Solutions Document Management

The market for Document Management Systems (DMS) has grown exponentially over the last 20 years. Hundreds of products were developed to address this growing market niche. Many failed to deliver on their promises and some were successful. The focus of the Document Management market has also evolved, especially over the last 5 years. There is increasing talk of Enterprise Content Management and Knowledge Management. Basic Workflow Systems have been replaced with sophisticated Business Process Management Systems. How can you decide which system is for you?

The paperless office

Much has been written about the paperless office - a myth started in the 1980’s. What we see today is an intelligent use of electronic systems, according to the requirements of today’s market. The paperless office is not and should not be an end in itself. The main advantage of replacing paper with electronic documents is to render an organisation more efficient and more competitive. This means increasing the speed of transactions, increasing an organisation’s flexibility and reducing costs. The increased use of the Internet and web-based applications has also driven the development of electronic document and content management.

Document management systems

Document Management Systems enable the capture of information currently residing in paper-based documents of all kinds. Their use enables people to collaborate on the creation, production and speedy delivery of these documents. Electronic archiving and retrieval provides an accessible knowledge base and ensures perpetuity of company information. However, DMS is a general term used to describe a variety of applications. The DMS required for the lifecycle management of a quality manual is one example. It is different from one required to handle the flow of invoice creation, approval, distribution and tracking.

Content management systems

Content Management Systems (CMS) are often regarded as being logical successors to the DMS. This is not quite true. The development of the CMS has an evolutionary aspect. However, this is because a CMS focuses more on what is contained within a document. Here, there is a focus on increasing levels of detail (granularity). As with the DMS, there exists a variety of CMS-related applications. Web Content Management is targeted at supporting the creation and maintenance of dynamic websites. Enterprise Content Management enables large organisations to harness the wealth of content they produce and make it profitable.

Electronic forms management

Electronic forms may appear to be a small component of either a DMS or a CMS. However in a business environment, they are critical to the transactional capability and efficiency between people and organisations. Examples of electronic forms are payslips, invoices, tax returns, purchase orders and cheques. They often have regulatory requirements such as an approved signature and the maintenance of approved original copies. They often require a secure exchange mechanism between organisations (B2B) and the public (B2C).

Web based applications

Document-related web-based applications include web content management systems and electronic catalogues. Web content requires a fundamentally different approach from printed marketing materials. Traditional document management systems do not lend themselves to the maintaining of web sites. Nor does the standard content management package. In the same way, electronic catalogues have an entirely different structure from standard paper-based catalogues. They also differ from the standard website. It is important therefore to consider your application before choosing a solution to support it.

Knowledge Management

Knowledge Management is the process through which organisations generate value from their intellectual and knowledge-based assets. Individual organisations need to determine which of these assets qualify as being valuable. Knowledge generally falls into one of two categories. The first is explicit, meaning it resides in an easily accessible form. This may be as a database file or as a paper document. The second is tacit and refers to the knowledge and experience we have in our heads. This may or may not be recorded in some form (for example information exchanged in an email). Some enterprise content management systems claim to cover the area of knowledge management. However it is unlikely that one application is currently capable of handling all aspects.

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