Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Intelligent Document Management in businesses and e-Administration

Today we would like to share  an interesting free white paper about document and content management in private and public sector.

This withe paper will help you to understand the benefits of  using software which is capable of automatize task regarding to content management, or what is called “Intelligent Document Management or intelligent ECM”.

Please, feel free to download it and to share it. :-)


Discover how Intelligent Document Management can help businesses and governments.descarga este contenido






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Monday, February 25, 2013

The ECM Glossary: A new tool to understand document management and Enterprise Content Management

No doubt about it: All of the things that are related to document management and ECM might seem a bit confusing and complicated. If looking for answers and information on how to manage the flow of information in your business seems bewildering, because of the endless number of acronyms and new concepts, don’t worry. You’re not the only one – it’s happened to all of us.

ECM, DMS, CRM, CMS….what IS all of this? you might ask yourself. Don’t worry; we’re here to help. And that’s not just because, at Yerbabuena Software, we’re fans of “sharing the knowledge”. In our business, we offer clients a complete ECM platform (don’t panic! We’ll explain shortly what that means) called Athento, and it’s vitally important that you understand the concepts and the possibilities of managing business content and data so that you can visualize everything that our services can give your company.

That’s the reason why we decided to create this Document Management and ECM Glossary. We’re going to need your help to continue to build it. If there’s a term or expression that you think should be clarified, just leave a comment.

Over the coming months, we’ll provide you with more concepts, so that the next time somebody speaks to you regarding document management or ECM, there will be no confusion.

Our hope is that, over the next few months, with the help of our readers, we’ll be able to compile a complete glossary that will help us all as a document of reference.

GLOSSARY

Our first entries are those that begin with the letter “A”:

A


Aggregation
Enterprise Content Management is a blanket term for the strategies, methods and tools used for the capture, management, storage and preservation, and distribution of documents related to organizational processes. Within the part that concerns capture in the life cycle of a document, which refers to obtaining and compiling documents inside a structure that allows for managing said documents, we find aggregation, which simply means combining documents that come from different applications, in order to (unify) data and transmit them to storage systems and process them in a structure that is uniform and has the same format.

Alfresco
Alfresco is one of the leading ECM platforms in the market. There are more than 2.500 Alfresco instances all around the world, some of them have been tested working with up to 100 millons of documents.
It is based on open standards and can be operated on various platforms, such as UNIX, on a company-wide scale. It is distributed in two different ways: Alfresco Community Edition comes without cost, with an LGPL license on open-source code and open standards. Alfresco Enterprise Edition is licensed software, based on open-source code and open standards; it offers customer support and can be licensed for an entire company. 

API (Application Programming Interface)
Speaking technically, an API is the group of functions and procedures (or methods, in object-oriented programming) which offers a specific library to be used by other software as a layer of abstraction. These are generally used in libraries.

In everyday English, APIs allow for the integration of applications inside other applications, so they can share content; that way, the new application can use the functionality and the information that the other application has. Let’s say, for example, that we wanted to use YouTube’s API. If we do that, we can use YouTube’s functionalities, like having a personalized gallery of videos that comes from YouTube’s data; that means that we don’t have to construct our own system of managing YouTube video content (like having to store it, program the code in order to display the YouTube video, or classify or search for content.)

Another example is Athento’s Geolocation Module, which uses Google Maps’s API to show us a map, on our mobile device, where the documents are located inside the management system, and which have been captured in a specific location (with specific latitude/longitude information) close to where the user finds him/herself (think, for example of sales people who are constantly on the move). That avoids wasting time by not having the work of looking for those documents.

Archives
Groups of documents collected and connected by the people who have responsibility for them (be in in a legal, government or private manner) in their everyday activities. These can be used for research, culture, information or administrative management.

ARM (Archives and Records Management)Allow a business to define a specific life cycle to a specific piece of information/record. To clarify: a document can be considered a record when the information it contains is specifically important to the processes of the business. The word “archives”, in this case, has been added to extend the concept of the class of information which is covered by the management system. To conclude, ARMs help us to management the processing of a document that has value to the business, from the time it’s created (or received) to the time it’s destroyed, going through all the steps of upkeep.


Athento
Athento is a multi repository  Enterprise Content Management platform. That means,  Athento gives repositories such as Nuxeo or Alfresco new functionalities, allowing for functionalities such as indexing documents via OCR, identifying the type of document received into the system (being able to distinguish between an invoice or a contract, for example), labeling documents so that they can be classified and accessed more easily, developing work flows starting from different types of documents (for example, describing the course that a work contract should take once it’s been uploaded to the management system – going through the HR and finance departments, for example), the use of tools which better allow users with special needs to access documents more easily, document management that is accessible from mobile devices; receiving documents by e-mail and allowing for intelligent automatic storage of documents. Athento is an excellent solution that allows for total adaptation for different types of uses within different types of organizations.

ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange)ASCII is a code of characters based on the Latin alphabet and is used by many Western languages. Computers don’t read letters in the same way that human beings do: they can only understand bits, which are digits represented by a system of seven binary characters. ASCII codifies those characters into numbers which can later be “understood” by the machine.

This is easy to illustrate by using Athento’s OCR Module. The document management system receives a digitalized system (such as a PDF file, or a .jpg or .tiff image); where humans see characters, the machine can only understand it as a map of bits.  In order for the machine to obtain characters that it can process (whether it be for information that the machine can edit, or to obtain specific information, such as the name of a client on a invoice saved as a PDF file), the OCR module analyzes the dark and light zones until it can identify numbers and letters that are present in the image and can be converted into ASCII codes. That way, the machine can understand the document as a collection of characters, not just as an image.

Atom
An alternative to RSS feeds which was developed by using XML. It allows for the distribution of content and news from web pages. An Atom document can contain information that is more complete and consistent than those generated by RSS. The Collaboration Module from Athento’s platform permits subscriptions to ATOM, and to RSS, too.


Authetication (SSO)
Single sign-on is an authentication process that allows the user to access various systems with only one log-in. The Athento system allows for the use of components such as Ja-sig and Open SSO.

Auto-Tagging
A module of the Athento platform that allows for the automatic annotation of any type of document at the moment of creation. This helps the system to group documents according to tags without the user being involved, providing (as an added value) a direct link to the Wikipedia of the tags that have been obtained. This module is ideal for the classification and digitalization of document archives, libraries, historical archives, daily newspapers, periodicals, etc.




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Monday, February 18, 2013

Capturing lots of documents with Athento Capture

There are different ways of applying the Athento's intelligent capture technology over documents. Today we're going to explain how to upload massive quantities of documents to Athento Capture for processing.

Once those documents have been uploaded, Athento will recognize them and extract their data automatically.

1. Documents from a scanner

If your aim is to capture paper documents, the best option is connecting Athento to your scanner. Athento uses the TWAIN protocol to make it possible. This connection works in the following way:




Documents are digitalized using a scanner connected to Athento. The scanner sends the documents to a folder and that folder will be monitored by Athento until each document in that folder can be captured. Users only have to concern about scanning, because Athento Capture does the rest.

2. Massive upload from local

With Athento Capture it is possible to upload documents from your PC. Click on “Massive Upload” , choose a local folder and then wait until the upload ends.




Once the capture has been done, go to “Unprocessed documents”. From there, it is possible to pick up a file to be processed or to process the whole set of documents.





Discover how Athento's intelligent document capture technologies workdownload it





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Friday, February 15, 2013

Managing Electronic Files

Businesses that work in sectors like education, the financial sector, consultancies and insurance firms organize their documents in filing systems. A file isn’t much more than a collection of documents which are based on one common topic. Frequently, these particular files are associated with certain bureaucratic processes which have to be carried out in the same repetitive way.

As you’ll see, files have their own particularities; and these particularities can generate specific organizational problems for those businesses that do generate files. Let’s take a look at some examples.

  • Managing files usually means working with a large volume of documents. Problems arising from working with large volumes of documents can increase exponentially if those documents come in a paper-based format.
  • Any process which gets a file number assigned to it is made up of interlocking tasks. Any error that is committed during the execution of one of those tasks will result in a process with unsatisfactory results.
There’s no doubt that businesses that work like this are more than aware that they need the help of a document management system, and many of these businesses have already started working with such a system. This is where the next problem comes from: “Not all document management systems have been designed for the management of bureaucratic tasks.
This naturally means that businesses (and the outside experts they work with) have to cobble together all kinds of shortcuts to adapt their document management systems to the logical structure of bureaucratic tasks. All of these shortcuts add up to a lot of effort being wasted on useless work, and losing all of the power that a task or file management  could offer companies like this.

Our Athento e-Government can help businesses become more efficient as they’re managing bureaucratic tasks. Business don’t have to worry about finding the best way to adapt to the way the system is managed, since we provide them with a platform that helps them to: 

  • Have the structure of the file that is adapted to their needs, and which can manage various types of files;
  • Access their files through a web-based platform that is adapted to their corporate image;
  • Navigate the system on various levels. In the physical way that files have been stored, it is possible to see all of the documents that are in the system at a given moment, or to navigate documents according to the categories that they’re stored in (such as contracts, statements or insurance policies.)
  • Use the document management system to search for document(s) that are contained within the contents of a file that has been stored in the document management system
  • Define work flows that are associated with files and bureaucratic tasks: You can specify the tasks that make up a process that has various files active in it, as long as the process or bureaucratic task is always carried out in the same manner. Team members will be notified of tasks that have yet to be completed and can un-do tasks that have already been performed.
  • Maintain control of files through change histories.
  • Easily and quickly store new documents, since the system is able to suggest new storage locations. This is very useful when you’ve got complex file content structures and a significant volume of documentation.
  • Digitalize documents directly from the platform without needing to access the scanner application.
  • Upload documents to the document management system via e-mail. You only need to input the file number that the document belongs to and send it directly to the document manager.





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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Athento e-Government

Electronic Government (E-Government) means improving the efficiency of management of government organizations by incorporating technology in two ways:

  • From an external point of view, it means being able to use electronic tools to provide customer assistance, with the add-on effect of reducing lineups and the waiting times needed to carry out bureaucratic processes.
  • From an internal point of view, it means changing the long, tedious paper-based processes for electronic steps.

Athento e-Government is a document management product which has been developed specifically for the public sector, which is why it focuses on attacking problems that are specific to government and government agencies, as well as offering the basic characteristics of an intelligent document manager.

ADVANTAGES

Some of the advantages of Athento e-Government:
  • Increased efficiency: Reduces times associated with document management and costs that come from paper document storage.
  • Provides sustainability: Reduces paper consumption – and (literally) using tons of paper is something that happens a lot in government offices.
  • Ease of access: Eliminates the need to carry out paperwork in person.
  • Eliminates document disorder: Guarantees the handling of volumes of documents and not the loss of documents as they flow through various processes.
  • Security and protection when it comes to accessing the confidential information of citizens and residents.
  • Eliminates duplication of documents which could occur due to large document volume.
  • Document control. Permits the approval, updating and control of documents.
  • Increases velocity: Keeps documents accessible thanks to fast searches.

Additionally, e-Government…
  • Is interoperable: Can be integrated into other e-Administration applications.
  • Allows for integration with Digital Signatures, for the management of regulated documents which require revisions, controls and approval.

Who can get the most out of Athento e-Government?

Any town or city council, municipal or regional government, Ministry or Council which needs a more efficient mechanism to manage their administrative processes.

At present, Athento e-Government is used by over one hundred government agencies, including:
  • The Spanish Army
  • The City Council of San Sebastián
  • The City Council of Córdoba
  • The Málaga Provincial Government
  • The Spanish General Directorate of Traffic



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Monday, February 11, 2013

Software, Cars, Planes and Cloud Computing


“Software” is a term that is fairly abstract and distant (although, more and more, that’s not the case) from the everyday reality of most people – or, at least, for many people who aren’t aware of just how “normal” and “everyday” technology  is in our everyday lives. That’s not only true when we buy the latest gadget, but also anytime that we plug something in – which means using energy taken from thermal generating plants or solar panels or wind farms – all of which are monitored and controlled using software. It’s also true when we take the car (with its onboard computer) out for a drive, or when we take any other mode of transport, like a train or a plane, both of which are almost totally controlled by software systems (and, for sure, the hardware, meaning PCB design, on which this software runs.)

In this post, we’re going to examine what software is, the ways in which it’s sold, rented or licensed… all of which can be explained by using the example of cars, which are much more familiar to the majority of people to whom we try to explain what we do.

1. Free software. In this case, “free” is a synonym for “liberated”, not “low-cost” (and certainly not “free” as in the sense of “you don’t have to pay for anything.”) In this case, free software is like buying a car and being able to handle and fix the engine yourself if you’re good at that kind of thing. You can also choose who fixes it for you (and that’s where the idea of freedom comes from.) Proprietary software (or private software) means that the motor is closed off from the car and you can’t select the mechanic who fixes it because the manufacturer does that for you (and that is supplied by the network of partners chosen by the manufacturers of that particular proprietary software.).
The free software, or open source software model, (with differences they are very similar) have also been taking to hardware design and there are initiatives like PCB Design reuse.

2. Development of Value-Added Software modules and System Integrators. The development of modules based on a product (such as Moodle, Nuxeo, Alfresco, Magento or any other solution) is like developing the wheels or radio (the extras) of a high-end vehicle. In the end, we’re like “tuners” of cars (like McLaren, Williams) who take a car, put the best extras available on it, and then fine-tune it for clients who want the most personalized treatment.

That said, Google Docs, DropBox or Box.net would be like lower-end vehicles: a service that doesn’t offer the chance for any kind of personalization at all. This kind of personalization is normally carried out through Systems Integrators; but the development of modules (which are themselves products) would correspond to other manufacturers, strictly speaking. What happens is that each of them works in different layers (similar to what happens with wheels, the engine or the radio of a car: these parts may not be up to the same level as the car, but it still forms part of the entire thing.)

3. The “gasoline” of the business. If you think of the business as a vehicle, money is its fuel. When a business starts to run out of money, the same feeling exists: you can have a fabulous engine (human resources), a talented pilot (the CEO and, generally, great senior managers), great tech and aerodynamic parts (great ideas) – but if you run out of money, you’re not going to even leave the parking garage. And just like owning a hot car, the feeling’s just as frustrating with money: “If we had everything ready to succeed, how, exactly, did we end up getting stuck halfway through?”

4. One free software, many uses. Free software is like a “specific car with a low price tag and high value”. Instead of investing in SAP-type software that does it all (which would be like buying a Hummer: it costs a fortune and is only really good for one specific thing), you can choose between having different tools and interconnecting the tools, which would be like having a Ferrari that you only take out for Sunday drives (CRM, to bring clients along), a Jeep for Saturday activities (the ERP for the tough stuff), AND a BMW that you use on a daily basis (a powerful intelligent document management).

5. Cloud computing is like airplanes. Cloud computing would be like airplanes, while solutions solved on-site would be like cars. This idea comes from with the same title of Error 500:

“Errors in cloud computing are, at times, a matter of perspective: a problem in Gmail is very noticeable because it affects tens of thousands of user, and that is something that can contribute to losing perspective if it really has more problems of data loss or disruption in services that are run locally or within the business.”

To put it plainly: Even though accidents in the cloud are more obvious, it’s certainly safer to travel by plane than it is by any other means of transport. That said, even if something could happen to you when you’re flying, many times we feel a lot safer in our own cars because we have the feeling of being in control, having everything at your fingertips and being able to direct where you’re going – and all that, in spite of knowing that, as far as numbers go for availability, security, scalability, our infrastructure can’t compete with the Cloud from Amazon, Rackspace or Google.

In much the same way, our car (even if it’s the best Ferrari going) still can’t compete with a commercial airliner.




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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Managing book collections with Athento

The next 30 seconds you will see how easy it is to manage books (or similar content) using Athento.

This cool interface allows you to drag and drop content in order to sort or remove them. And the best thing about it is that you don’t have to refresh any browser connected to Athento. Every user surfing on that Athento instance will see the changes in real-time.

Athento is using technologies such as Seam 3, Richfaces 4 and JSF 2.



Managing book collections with Athento from Athento on Vimeo.


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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Control: Key element in ECM projects

We have told you previously how to calculate the success of an ECM project in financial terms. A good ROI can give us an idea of how good an ECM project has worked for the global company goals. But getting a good ROI can't be done without considering control measures. Of course, as in any strategical process, control is useless if you don't make a good job at planning, organizing, directing and taking the right corrective measures. Let's suppose you have done a great job in these project phases.

So, how can you control if the project is taking the proper way forward? The answer is simple: measuring.

Users

  • How many of the users you had expected to use the system are actually doing it? 
  • How many of the business processes you had expected to be involved are working with the system at the present time?

Not to much time ago, I knew about a project in which the system had been planned to be working with several units, but at the end, only three of them were really using it. Why? In this case it could be a planning mistake, because they didn't consider these units' needs, but also a control failure, because they didn't take corrective measures to get the project back on track in order to do the system more useful for those rebel units.

Information availability

In my opinion, this is the breakpoint. If users don't find what they're looking for, they won't use the system again. The final goal of software is to make easier the users' life, not to bother them with speed issues or stuff like that. Ask your employees how comfortable they feel using the system and if it allows them to have the right information at the right time.

So, you should check:

  • Response times in searches 
  • Searches accuracy rate 
  • Which devices are used to access the system?

System usage

Some people think that the number of docs in the system is not a good metric. I think it depends on what your global number of documents is. You can have lots of documents in your ECM system, but, is this quantity of documents relevant compared with the total of used documents?

Another metrics you have to take on account are:

  • Number of access to the system 
  • Number of searches performed

Effectiveness of the project
This is crucial for projects which main goal is to reduce manual work.

  • How many employees are working to correct system errors? 
  • How much data are you missing?

Measuring things like that, means to correct deviations on time and of course, it can ensure project success.


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