Tuesday, April 30, 2013

From filing cabinets to Virtual Boxes over the past five years

Five years ago, those of us who are passionate about document management thought that, in the future, people would better understand the importance of the discipline, and that all businesses would embrace the idea of abandoning large physical files because their inefficiency would be totally proven in an era when tech tools would be strong enough to let them take that step.

Maybe we gave people the wrong idea – that the one and only enemy was paper. This idea was pushed by business information systems gurus; and, maybe, how easily electronic content duplicates, digital documents would soon become the panacea for document management problems.

That’s when we started rushing to digitalize and scan everything we could, and we went to the digital world and that’s where the equivalents to the those huge filing rooms (where we kept all our documents) were born. First, it happened on our own computers; but when that became too small, along came intelligent businesses which saw a business opportunity in liberating us from having to store all of our own documents. That’s where those large online storage facilities for our documents came from – the ones we now know, such as Dropbox, Box.net, SugarSync, etc. The lack of clear document management policies in businesses made it easy for employees to use tools such as these to share and store documents.

But if these tools make it easier to share and store documents, why aren’t they considered to be part of document management? 

The ECM cycle has five phases: Capture, Manage, Store, Preserve and Deliver.

ECM 101- AIIM


1. Capture
When it comes to digitalization, there isn’t much to say regarding these tools because they don’t offer any kind of related functionality. There is no OCR, ICR or mark recognition. There is no indexing, and the integration with third-party applications is nil. These means that users have difficulties in finding documents and it means much more manual work when it comes to extracting information from documents.


2. Manage
Here, the only functionality which these services offer is allowing us to organize our content in file structures. When it comes to seeing the history of everything that’s happened to a document – nothing. Version management is also something that is not fully available. The problems for the user and the system: very little control over important information; loss of work carried out if you can’t, for example, go back to a previous version of a document when it’s needed. With management, it may be functionality which is the greatest advantage offered by these tools, especially when it comes to collaboration, because they have facilitated and simplified the way in which we share documents (but at a cost to control). A DMS offers work teams the chance to work in a coordinated fashion through work flows, maintaining strict control over changes in documentation. 


3. Store 
This is the function that gave birth to virtual boxes, allowing users to free themselves from having to use up this space on their own hard drives. However, these systems are certainly not made to store a large number of documents, and once you’ve gone over a specified limit, retrieving of a specific document can turn into a nightmare.


4. Preserve 
Terms like “long term” and backups gain great importance here. We’re not going to get into everything here that each provider offers. Certainly, to meet certain quality specifications and legal requirements which affect specific types of documents, these virtual boxes don’t seem like a good option.


5. Delivery 
Delivery talks about carrying documents from our document system or other external systems (or those external to the business), such as integration with intranets, extranets or other applications. Dropbox has a REST API which allows developers to develop integrations. In Dropbox’s specific case, there are certain integrations that have been developed by third parties, though Dropbox doesn’t provide support for those integrations. On this point, document managers have a much more extensive history, with official integrations that have been designed for the business world. 

In our opinion, the moral of the story is…. 

For businesses: Managing your business’s documentation with one of these tools means making huge sacrifices in terms of control, speed in finding and recovering documents when it comes time to work in teams, without running the risk of losing work. 

For ECM developers: If this kind of solution becomes popular in professional circles, something could be happening with traditional document management software. These tools have figured out how to maximize simplicity and straightforward-ness. At A
thento, we’ve realized this and we’re working to show you very soon that a document manager doesn’t have to be something that is complicated. 



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Monday, April 29, 2013

Automatic Document Sorting

 Within the next few minutes, you will see how Athento classifies documents automatically.

How does it work?

1. Scanned documents are sent to a folder in the server called "Pending" -this work is usually performed by the scanner-.

2. The "Pending" folder is a hot folder. This means that it is watched and whenever a file is sent there, the document is processed in Athento.

3. Using its intelligent image processing technologies, Athento is able to recognize document types and to store them into an specific folder.

In this video, the documents that will be classified belong to an Hospital. Through a web interface clinical staff can see the sorted documents.

If you wanto to learn more about Document Capture Software visit our website.


Automatic Document Sorting with Athento from Athento on Vimeo.


Discover how Athento's intelligent document capture technologies workdownload it




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Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Top 5 Reasons to Implement Intelligent Document Management

1. Money 

As we’ve shown in previous posts, the use of a paper-based document system costs money…a lot of money. In a business that only deals with one hundred documents a day, those costs, per annum, never go below €15,000. With a system that has similar characteristics to those of Athento, the cost of this document system would be reduced to just 1.85% of this figure.

2. Time 

The most significant costs that paper generates are related to the time that employees dedicate to filing, searching for or processing information from documents. A digital document management system considerably reduces the time it takes us to (for example) save a document in its correct location. An intelligent document management system doubles those savings. Why? Because it avoids making a person do many tasks that the system is capable of doing for itself. For example, a document management system avoids the need for a person to introduce important data from the document into the system; or, through the use of tags, it can help us find the document that we’re looking for in half the time.

3. Headaches 

Losing a document is nothing to be laughed at. It’s said that having to go back and generate just one document costs $220, and it’s not all that difficult to lose a document. But managing paper documents doesn’t just put us at a greater risk for losing documents; it also makes it a lot harder to guarantee the confidentiality of critical documentation and guarantee the preservation and integrity of all of the information of our business.

4. Clients, suppliers and unhappy third parties 

When we automate tasks using an intelligent document management system, what we’re really doing is reducing the amount of time that the processes need to finish. In other words, by automating processes, we get faster processes for billing, incident management and complaints and orders; and that, in turn, means faster answers both for ourselves and our clients. One good example of this is with government bodies: How many times have you had to present the same document to the same organism just because you’re doing a different type of paperwork? An intelligent document management system makes that document accessible, and the civil servant who’s serving you doesn’t have to ask for it again.

5. Business resources and humanity resources 

In addition to time, paper-based documents need both space and furniture to be stored in. Talking about documents means also talking about printing, and printing means talking about the consumption of ink and toner; that, in turn, means talking about the four liters of petroleum needed for eademand for wood and wood pulp by the pulp and paper industry.
ch printer cartridge that is produced. And, finally, the most obvious – the quantity of paper consumed around the world, which keeps growing and which also means the increased


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Improvements to Athento’s Send to a Friend module

This week our peers, Juan Luis Hidalgo Vera and Miguel Muñoz have presented us with some of the improvements that have been made to the Send to a Friend collaboration module.

This module allows users to send documents that are stored in our ECM system via e-mail.

 The improvements that have been made include:

Allows users to send documents connected to the principal document.

Previous versions only allowed users to send the main file, not documents that were connected with it (or attached to it). In the following image, an “File”-type file and its attachments can be seen: 




Now, with this new version, it’s possible to send associated or attached documents by using the button that is located in the upper right-hand corner of the page.
In the next image, in the box that’s outlined in red, we can see how, in the case of the document in the previous image, the additional documents are shown together with several check boxes which allows them to be included in the e-mail (or not).



Allows users to send documents to other external or internal users 

It’s now possible to send documents by e-mail to any e-mail addresses, even if it doesn't belong to a user of the system. Finding a user within the system is easy and avoids the need to know the e-mail address of the user. What’s more, because you can use e-mails from outside users, collaboration is less limited.


Finally, as is the case with previous versions of the plug-in, it’s possible to add a “subject” and an “e-mail body”. This plug-in is available from the demo on our web page.

Discover how the BBVA's Real Estate manages over 7 million documents in less than a year using Athentodownload it



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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Data Extraction for Legal Documents with Athento

In less than five minutes, we will show you how Athento performances data extraction and document recognition. In this case, we'll be working on legal documents. The documents we are using in this demo, are not indexable. This means, that without applying OCR it is impossible for the machine to read its content. The Athento Capture's task is to find and extract some keywords (Plaintiff, defendants and the court). This keywords can be chosen on the platform and will be push as metadata into any ECM sofware.

Let's watch it!


Legal Document Capture from Athento on Vimeo.



Discover how to calculate the ROI of a paper document capture process.download it




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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Alfresco: Autotagging documents using Athento features

As explained in previous entries, our Autotagging plugin or self-labeling of documents,  uses Semantics to find key terms in documents and turn them into labels that connect to other documents which include the same terms.

We had already integrated Autotagging with Box, but it was time to try it on Alfresco. In less than a second, you will be able to see how it works.



Autotagging docs on Alfresco with Athento from Athento on Vimeo.


DOWNLOADSWe explain how Athento helped Crisa manage technical documents.


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Monday, April 15, 2013

ECM Glossary, Letter E

We’d like to present the newest installment of our ECM Glossary, this time with the letter “E”.



Letter A.

Letter B. 


Letter C. 

Letter D.

E.


Electronic invoices: These invoices do the same job as an invoice printed on paper, but they make it possible for a business to generate and issue invoices by electronic means, in a totally trustworthy and safe way. Electronic invoices get their validity thanks to electronic signature platforms which guarantee the integrity of the document and identify the person who generated and sent it.

The electronic invoice became more frequently used thanks to the rise of e-commerce, what’s more, they’ve become more widely supported by the European authorities.

Tools such as Kofax, Ephesoft and EMC Captiva exist to conduct zonal OCR to capture invoices. There are also more advanced products such as Athento Capture, which allow users to create the so-called intelligent electronic invoice, which brings automation to the billing process through semantic technology, the use of syntactic patterns, etc.

Electronic Record Management System (EDRMS o ERMS): These IT systems are designed to manage and maintain records. A record is a piece of evidence about the activity of the company, kept in a permanent format. A ERMS allows organizations to manage records creation, maintenance, use, and disposition. The goal is to achieve adequate and proper documentation of the organizational policies and transactions. ERM systems reduce litigation risks, they also ensure regulatory compliance and other benefits. Athento iDM has a module, specially designed to cover Records Management processes.

E-mail Management (EMM): When someone receives hundreds of e-mails daily --and those e-mails contain documents or information which are important to a business -- you have to have a way to manage e-mails. There are specialized software programs that help manage e-mails that are sent and received by employees. These systems can capture metadata associated with e-mails; they can also manage access to those e-mails and classify them according to their content. Some ECM software allow this feature. It is also called Mailroom feature and can be used too to manage traditional mail. Athento has a module called Athento Popmail that allows to automate incoming mail processes. Popmail makes possible to  upload docs to an ECM platform just sending them as attachments.

What’s certain is that the massive use of e-mail for both internal and external communication is making it fundamental for content management systems to include e-mails within the content to be managed.

ERP: Enterprise Resource Planning means integral IT applications which allow for management of information related with the production aspects of a business, so that daily tasks related to operations can be automated. It’s normally used to manage aspects such as accounting procedures, logistics, financial functions and human resources. ECM platforms should be capable of being integrated with these applications, since they can be used as intake points for documentation and, at the same time, are receivers of information contained in the manager. One concrete example might be when the manager receives an invoice. The manager extracts the necessary content from the invoice (automatically, in the case of Athento), and assigns it to a particular invoicing software such as SAP, Navision, Open Bravo or Open ERP.



Discover how to calculate the ROI of a paper document capture process.download it






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Monday, April 8, 2013

Athento Touch with Alfresco

Today we would like to show you one of our new interfaces for touch devices. This interface has been tested on:

  • iPad
  • Android tablets (as Samsung Galaxy) 
  • Touch table (SMART table)
The idea when designing this interface was to make it more natural to work on documents using touch screens. That's why we thought - wait a minute, it should be possible to do things like piling up documents, draging, moving or rotating them!- That was exactly what we've done. But more important, we didn't want  to force you to use an specific ECM software, so, we decided to use a CMIS connection.

But a picture is worth a thousand word, let's see Athento Touch in action with Alfresco.




Athento Touch (with Alfresco) from Athento on Vimeo.


Discover how the BBVA's Real Estate manages over 7 million documents in less than a year using Athentodownload it


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Thursday, April 4, 2013

ECM Glossary, Letter D

Welcome to another entry in our Document Management Glossary. Today we’d like to bring you all the terms about document management that begin with the letter “D”.

Letter A.

Letter B. 


Letter C. 

Letter D.

D.

DBPedia:
DBPedia is a semantic search engine which takes information from Wikipedia and converts it into a semantic web: it builds relationships between data to create new meanings, thereby allowing for more complex searches. Data from Wikipedia are categorized and tagged automatically in DBpedia.

DBpedia becomes especially important in document management when we talk about automatic tagging of documents according to their content. Intelligent ECM systems, such as Athento, are capable of interacting with DBpedia or other systems such as OpenCalais in order to create automatic annotations in documents (Consult “Automatic Annotations” under the Letter “A”.)

Delivery:Delivery is the stage in Enterprise Content Management when we turn in, distribute or allot the information which is documented in our system. Delivery basically encompasses all those exit points of information which our document management system produces; in other words, delivery works with handing information over to the users of a system.
Within delivery, three main types of actions should be considered: transformation, security and distribution. Transformation refers to giving a material format to the information contained in a system (such as PDF or XML files.) Security is related to the capability of guaranteeing the integrity and the source of generated information. In this way, we can talk about important tools that can help, such as the Digital Signature. Distribution usually refers to the form in which this information is transmitted to third parties (web portals, e-mails, etc.)

Digital Signature: Digital signatures are simply a series of characters, placed at the end of a message, with the expectation of being sent as if it had been signed with a pen and ink. It offers users the chance to provide information, swear an oath or show what we want done, with total validity and security, without needing to physically be there to put our handwritten signature onto paper.
Currently the integration of document management systems with digital signatures is mandatory, now that, when documents are generated (or when someone receives digital documents) a mechanism is needed that guarantees the validity of either type. Athento, for example, offers integration with platforms like ViaFirma or Digital Signature Servers as CryptoSign.
To learn more about how this system is becoming increasingly important to businesses), you can consult all of our posts on digital signatures here



Digitalization:Digitalization is the process that, through the use of technology, allows us to convert a document on paper into a document in electronic format and which contains a true, complete, codified image of the original document.


Availability:
An available document is one that can be located, recovered, presented and interpreted. Its presentation should show the activity or operation that produced it. The existing links between or among document which reflect a sequence of activities should be maintained.


DMS (Document Management System): A document management system is software or an application which permits organizations to manage all of its document flows. It gives organizational documents a logical structure for their storage and future use. This type of application allows business to be faster and more efficient when they have to look for documents, store documents and generate new content. There is a large variety of DMS available on the market, some paid and others for free while some which have more features and uses than others. All of them have the aim of helping businesses free themselves from paper and make it easier and faster to manage the documents they need to function. A document management system allows a business or organization to:

  • Create content
  • Permit collaboration between teams
  • Preserve documents
  • Generate control flows
  • Simplify the search for documents
  • Create versions of documents; and
  • Manage access to documents (among other things.)
Various diverse terms exist that refer to software that does this kind of work, though small differences exist. This is the case with Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software, which is thought to be more ample as it not only includes the functions of a DMS, it also allows for the use of collaborative tools and the management of different types of content, including content that has been generated on the web. Nonetheless, as things stand now, modern document managers have these kinds of characteristics. That said, in some countries, the term “document management” (or DM) is more widely used than ECM is.
 


Document:
A document, in document management, is a set of information in any format (paper or digital) which is important/necessary for the proper functioning of a business’s processes.


Electronic document:Information that is contained in an electronic format, and which is typically identified and used in a function.

Document Imaging:Software used to capture, store and recover documents (regardless of their original format) is known as Document Imaging software. It forms part of Enterprise Content Management (ECM). OCR applications are among some of the best-known document imaging tools.



Document Management:A set of technical norms and practices that are used to administer document flows within an organization – which, for most businesses, usually translates into ease of use, speed and saving time when storing a business’s information. Document management helps businesses create efficient management for the life cycles of their documents.


Drag and drop:Drag and Drop is a functionality which allows users to add files to applications by simply clicking on a file, pulling the file over to the appropriate directory and depositing it there (on the browser window). Nuxeo, for example, supports this functionality using some browsers. Users only have to download an extension or plug-in for their Firefox or Internet Explorer browsers to have the ease of taking a file from their Desktops (or any directory) and putting it in the Nuxeo window, so that the document can be stored. 



Discover how the BBVA's Real Estate manages over 7 million documents in less than a year using Athentodownload it


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Monday, April 1, 2013

What's a "normal" document management system?

I’m writing this post because, today, I read an interesting debate on LinkedIn which started with the question, "What is a normal DMS?" (in the Document Management System group).
Even though the group is for professionals who work in document management, it’s surprising how difficult we all find it to define some of the basic or fundamental functionalities which a document management system (DMS) should have.
The debate arose from a question a client asked a sales representative from a company that offers document management solutions for a particular sector. Maybe what the client really wanted to know is what their vertical product offered, compared to a traditional document manager. The problem is that nobody really understands what a “normal” document manager is (or should be).
Some people answered that there wouldn’t be one concrete answer to this question, that you would have to delve deeper into what the manufacturer understood as a “document” and what is understood by “management”.
Others said that the functionality of a document manager would depend on the size of the client and the price of the product.
The people who tried to be more concrete talked about functionality in terms of work flows, storage, document retrieving, document history, pre-visualization and security, among other characteristics.
My own opinion is that there are a minimum of characteristics that make a DMS a DMS, rather than just being a file system or an online file-sharing system, or other systems or services that clients can come to interpret as being used in a similar way.

In the first place, I believe that the participants in the debate forgot about one key point: collaborative work.
A DMS is a system that’s been created for human teams, not for individuals.
A document management system isn’t meant to simply store documents. Each employee can store documents on his or her own local disk. The problem is that storing on a hard disk is going to make it harder to let teams work together. Even if they used shared folders or file servers, sooner or later they’re going to encounter problems like duplicate content, difficulty in finding what they’re looking for, losing work when files that many people are working on are overwritten by the collaborators (to give but a few examples).
Storage in the document manager increases the amount of control we have over content, but it’s not the fundamental functionality, that's not what client is really looking for.
Okay, you’re saying, but wait a minute: teamwork can still be carried out using any kind of file-sharing system, such as DropBox.  We don’t completely agree. The possibilities for collaborative work on file-sharing platforms leaves out functionalities such as revision and approval workflows, creating notifications when document content has been modified; creating collaboration-based documents like forums, wikis and blogs, creating notes on documents, controlling the entry and exit of documents (to guarantee that users don’t overwrite content that’s been modified), etc. Truth is, this type of platform is centered on the functionality of “sharing files,” just as its name proclaims.But there are more things that make a DMS a DMS.

Second Key Point: Complete control of metadata and document types
Businesses usually have document classification types, with document types which are key for the functioning of their business and which don’t have anything to do with a MIME-type classification of the file. These types of documents also require that support for certain specific data be included so that they can be described (metadata), and which go beyond the name and the type of file. A DMS has to be capable of not only providing support for metadata and types of documents: it also has to be capable of using this information when it comes time to recover content (supporting advanced searches and categorizations of agreement with metadata.) To this, the management of the life cycle of each type of document should also be added.

Third Key Point: Access security
This implies having the possibility of managing users, granting permission, connecting with business directories, etc. A DMS should have been thought out to guarantee that business-critical information stays under the strictest security controls. This, in fact, is one of the sharpest criticisms leveled at file-sharing platforms.

Fourth Key Point: Security of the contents
Knowing everything that’s going on with a document is mandatory with a DMS system (knowing who created it, who has edited it, who erased it and who’s consulted it). It’s not enough to create versions; you need to be able to restore them and consult them. In order for there to be security for the contents, we also have to talk about the ability to create outlines for the content, so that we can know the history of what’s been done to each document.

Fifth Key Point: Possibility of integration with other kind of ECM systems.
To consider something to be a real DMS system, it should offer integration support with other ECM tools like DAMS (Digital Assets Management System, for handling audiovisual content), document apture solutions, records management and the likes.

I’m surely forgetting specific functionalities, but I believe that this five groups of functionalities are the fundamental pillars of any document management system.



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





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