Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Managing Digital Documents in Business

Today, I’d like to share the presentation that I used in a training course organized by the Asociación de Archiveros de Andalucía (the Andalusian Archivists’s Association) yesterday in Seville.
They asked us for a panoramic vision that matched our experience in the business, about how to work with electronic documents in businesses, throughout the entire life cycle of the document.

My presentation talked about how, through all my years of working in the ECM market, we’ve come across needs that have not been completely met or fixed by the document management software on the market.

In this post, I’ll attempt to reproduce the training session.

Slides 3 and 4: The beginning: Storage and Online Access 

The first problem that businesses attempt to solve when they’re thinking of document management has to do with getting rid of paper and having documents in an electronic format which, businesses know, will result in documents that are more accessible than if workers had the documents in paper format. Basically, what they want to do is to make things more powerful: collaboration, accessibility and ubiquity. When we talk about making these three things more powerful, we assume that, in most cases, we’re talking about active documentation; or, at least, documentation that is frequently used.

These were the first document management projects that our business came across. To solve them, we started to work with a open-source software solution: Nuxeo. Even though Nuxeo is a powerful tool that’s well-designed and very useful for solving the basic problems of document management, we gradually discovered that, from time to time, Nuxeo fell short of what our clients needed.

Slides 5 and 6: Work Flows and BPM

The first point in which we saw that the solutions on the market fell short was with the topic of making complete work procedures electronic, as well as procedures or other business processes that were rich in complexity. In this situation, new concepts appeared, such as a case, which aren’t completely assimilated by existing document management systems. For ECM software, a case never stops being a type of folder. However, for those of us who work in this field, we know that a case means much more than being a mere folder: it implies relationships with other organizations (procedural paperwork, solicitations for procedures, phases, tasks, specific document types, etc.) Many times, converting those business processes into digital processes is critical for the business, as in the case of CRISA, which needed the process of approval and signing off of plans, for the engineering department, to be meticulously monitored.

Slides 7 and 8: Document Capture

Once the management of electronic documents was solved, we realized that our cases needed to take one step further. Once again, document management solutions didn’t offer a solution to processing documents that were currently on paper, or to send documents that were stored in the system after being received by e-mail and processing them (not just storing them). We came upon cases such as that of ICOGAM, which needed to conduct document imaging and processing of up to 3,000 cases a day. We needed to make it possible for the document management system to recognize document types and extract data from them.

Slides 9 and 10: Records Management

We started to get a lot of requests from government agencies and large businesses that were interested in complying with certain pieces of legislation. They wanted our help with managing records or inactive documentation on a trial basis. The problem, in one particular instance, was that the system in use was better prepared for working with active documentation and that the system didn’t require scrupulous storage practices. There was a need to work with the system internally to get it to somehow reproduce concepts such as classification boxes by functions, series, conservation schedules, etc. We had to make it possible for the document management system to understand concepts like activities, functions, procedures, and the like.

Slides 11 and 12: The Enterprise Content Management Roadmap

If we take our focus away from the specific needs and we focus on the wider view of document management or Enterprise Content Management, we realize that, if a document is going to make the complete run through all the phases of Enterprise Content Management (Capture, Manage, Deliver, Preserve and Store), a business needs at least four separate applications to cover all the needs. And that’s a huge problem, because of:
  • Investment in IT: multiplies the costs of licenses, users, hardware training, etc.
  • Integration
Slide 13: Integration 

Integration is an authentic nightmare: if the four applications that we buy aren’t correctly integrated, our staff has to work four times more. The problem, however, doesn’t just exist among ECM applications. It turns out that if we’re not working with applications that follow standards and which can communicate with the rest of our business software, we’re facing a real problem and, probably, a significant loss of money.

Slides 14 and 15: What have we learned? 

We’ve learned that, without a doubt, there’s got to be a better way of doing document management. There’s got to be a way that lets people work less and inflicts fewer headaches on business when it comes time to try covering the needs of content in all of its life cycles. And we decided that Athento has to be prepared to take on this challenges with three lethal weapons:
  • Intelligence
  • Interoperability
  • and by being an integral tool.
With these three lethal “I”s in mind, we’ve undertaken the development of Athento version 3.0, which offers an integrated solution to attack problems that can be automated by using intelligence, which is capable of communicating with the tech environment of businesses.


1 comment:

  1. All the contents you mentioned in post is too good and very useful. Document Management System is a web based Content Management solution that enables all of your business information to be securely stored in a single central repository with full version control and strict permissions based access.

    Bella Brown