Document Management Software Definitions
When you start to think about document management software, two things immediately strike you:
- The number of three and four letter abbreviations that exist.
- The number of vendors trying to sell you a solution.
Immediately you go from having an idea of what you want, to total confusion. This article explains some of these abbreviations to enable you to firm up your idea of what you want, or at least understand what is being offered to you.
Document Management Abbreviations
This is a rough and ready guide arranged in a logical order of systems to give you an overview of the types of system you will be dealing with.
- EDC - Electronic Document Capture. These systems deal with the key paper document conversion problems of scanning, image cleanup, content recognition, indexing, and storing of documents. They enable paper documents to have an on-line presence. This technology forms the core of the others that have to deal with paper documents.
- OCR - Optical Character Recognition. This is content recognition software, which can recognise printed characters on a scanned document.
- ICR - Intelligent Character Recognition. This is also content recognition software, which can read handwriting written on specially prepared forms, as well as marks and bar code.
- DM or DMS or EDMS or EDM - Electronic Document Management System. This goes beyond just capturing paper documents and deals with electronically created documents as well, and even can be extended to e-mail management. The key issues it deal with ensuring that documents can be found, access to them can be controlled, they can be displayed, and versions of them can be maintained. The core point is that it allows easy electronic access to relevant documents.
- RM or RMS or ERMS - Electronic Record Management Systems. These systems are concerned with making sure that electronic documents that are of importance to an organisation are secured for as long as necessary. They deal with the issues of document retention, access, and equally their destruction. They are the electronic equivalent of the records department of an organisation.
- CM or WCM - Web Content Management. These systems separate the contents of a document from the way it is displayed, and control the publishing of the content by various means such as print or the web. They have two sides to them: creation of content, and publishing of content.
- Creation of content means assisting the process of content being written and involves workflow control.
- Publishing of content allows content to be syndicated, and published on various media.
- DAM - Digital Asset Management. These systems deal with controlling who has access to content, especially on the web, where you may only want paying customers to have access to it.
- WfM - Workflow Management. Some applications such as dealing with a customer order, involve a number of distinct processes that have to be done in a sequence. Workflow Management assists the process by directing documents to the appropriate people for each step, and keeping control so that no step is missed. Not all document systems need such technology.
- KM - Knowledge Management. These systems assist the process of managing the knowledge of a firm. This is mainly done by making documents available, and providing mechanisms to allow collaboration on new documents e.g. a design specification.
Document Management Vendors
The definitions given above are a partial mapping, and do not cover all the abbreviations used by system vendors. Many of the vendors' products cover more than one of these areas; some can be easily linked to other vendor systems to cover all areas. However they are all deal in selling their solution, which may or may not meet your purpose.
Decide Your Document Management Objectives
This is not unfair of the vendors, as you must first know what it is you want to do. The phrase Document Management actually means very little. What's more for most practical purposes it will be very difficult to achieve. Therefore before speaking to vendors you need to:
- Decide on your objective.
- Analyse what you do at present and identify opportunities.
- Prepare a business case to justify expenditure.
You can now approach vendors to:
- Investigate solutions.
- Decide on a solution.
- Prepare an implementation plan.
- Software Development Life Cycle - explains the basic principles of what a software development life cycle is.
- Testing Process - This describes the six steps of the testing process for running any type of testing including the six activities involved in the Develop Tests step.