Document Management
DDM Administration Tools
Interface Tools

What is Document Management?
by Matthew Mangels, Senior Consultant

Business Case Example
Standard EDMS Features
Comparing EDMS Solutions

Document Management is a philosophy which can assist companies or other groups with organizing and appropriately sharing the volumes of data they generate each day. Contracts, e-mails, correspondences, presentations, spreadsheets are often created in assembly line fashion and meet an immediate need for a particular user or project. Document management helps associate that data, provide context, and leverage it on a deeper level.

By associating documents into discrete groupings, information contained in individual pieces and ultimately the knowledge represented by the collection as a whole can be leveraged in a multitude of ways. As an example, consider two mid-size software firms and the number of documents generated/exchanged in the securing and delivery of a product to a customer:

    • E-mails
    • Formal correspondences
    • Contracts
    • Nondisclosure agreements (NDA)
    • Marketing materials
    • Invoices
    • Purchase orders

Business Case Example

Company A - No Document Management Strategy

In the traditional model, this process would likely involve a workflow with several people in different departments and layers of management progressing with only the background provided by the individual immediately before them in the process. While functional, significant amounts of time may be spent contacting individuals to assess the context of the events which have taken place so far--if there was a recent price change which copy of the marketing materials were sent, any special issues needed to be included in the NDA, titles of customer contacts to be included on contracts, promised deadlines, etc.

Company B - Utilizing Formal Document Management Strategy

While certainly possible to accomplish manually, Document Management strategies are typically implemented using and Electronic Document Management Solution (EDMS). In this case, as data is gathered at each stage of the sales workflow, it is stored in a central repository--as emails are received the user clicks a button and the content is copied to the EDMS, the word processing or PDF contract documents are saved directly to the content store, marketing materials should already be stored in the EDMS and perhaps links to the ones sent would be stored in each client binder.

Now as users prepare to perform their particular function in the workflow, they can quickly and easily peruse the data gathered and generated during previous stages to gain context and take better meaningful and informed action. With the integration of an Instant Messaging platform into the EDMS, users can quickly see if the author of a piece of content is on-line and have questions answered via 'chat' as opposed to more time consuming options like making a phone call or drafting an email. These enhancements benefit the current sales effort, but consider the effect on future business transactions:
  • If a new sales rep is assigned to the account, they can quickly perform a self study of the relationship based on the actual events and communications. In addition to saving time, this eliminates the potential for human bias to interfere with the formation of the first impression. Additionally authors of individual documents may be on-line and available for chat.
  • Better consistency in dealing with this client for future transactions as the entire communication history can be available to new representatives or management.
  • As individuals either change positions or leave the company, a wealth of company/customer information is often abandoned within their email files. By including select communications in a well structured content store, accurate context can be applied to other business documents like contracts, policies, and presentations.
  • Users can perform searches of components for the complete content store in order to mine information on existing relationships, look for potential trouble points, or quickly find data they need to access.
  • Data is stored in a secure and repository which is subject to standard backup procedures--thereby eliminating loss of data because of user error or local hardware error or theft.

Standard EDMS features
There are a variety of well established Electronic Document Management solutions on the market. While each has its set of unique features, look for the following basic areas of functionality in any solutions you consider:

    • Document locking (check in/out)
    • Version control
    • Collection of meta-data
    • Integrated Review/Approval cycles
    • Integration with major desktop applications
    • Full text search of the content store
    • Proven and flexible security model
    • Ability to integrate with Instant Messaging platform

Comparing EDMS Solutions
Beyond ensuring a particular package has all of the standard features you're looking for, additional consideration should be given to:

    • Volume of documents to be stored (both number of documents and size of files)
    • Number of users requiring access to the EDMS
    • Hardware/Operating System requirements
    • Licensing options (per server and per user)
    • Performance statistics
    • User interface options
    • Ability to customize appearance and functionality
    • Strength and flexibility of security models

Solutions will range from simple shareware applications that can be applied to files on a network server to industrial scale applications with full data redundancy and failover meant for 24/7 uptime with thousands of concurrent users.

The staff at IIUI has first hand experience and formed opinions on several of the available packages. Please contact Daniel Lieber for further information on finding the right solution to meet your organizations needs!