Earlier this week I traveled to Luxembourg to deliver a document management project we have been working on for the last few months. A migration to Docova (Domino based Document Management system) of over 100gb of data that was previously stored in a Domino Document Manager (IBM product that has been discontinued) and Docushare (Xerox) environment. Thousands of legal documents and contracts that needed a new centralized and unified way of storage with some very strict maintenance and compliance regulations.
On talking about the trip and project I got asked what the relevance was of document management with the rise of social business and social file sharing and why I still do a lot of document management projects. Seeing as I’ve been really active in promoting social tools and file sharing.
Well, where to start…
Structured versus unstructured
Where social business tools offer a platform to share and distribute unstructured data, document management is about handling the ‘structured’ data. Data that requires centralized, controlled and predictable accessibility and that is often core to the functioning of the business process. Information for instance like legal documentation, contracts, HR records, invoices and technical documentation.
It’s not just about storing
But it is much more then just storing it in a controlled environment. It’s also about controlling the information during it’s life cycle to ensure processing, updates and review are taking place and about making sure the documents adhere to regulatory and compliance requirements.
It’s not about numbers
“But isn’t that more something for large environments?” No it isn’t. Every company has data that requires certain procedures and structure. Often these are maintained by individuals who keep lists of actions to be taken or have certain ways of keeping track. But how do you ensure that when those people leave, or fall sick those same procedures are maintained, and how do you keep control? Questions relevant to companies of any size but maybe especially to those where processes often reverberate around a single employee ‘that knows where to find it‘. Dependency on a single individuals knowledge and diligence can be a major threat to the stability of any business process.
Document management is about controlling the data process, not just the data itself
What makes document management what it is?
meta data: Defining document types with information fields and enforcing input control, allows for additional data to be associated for each type of data document. Information that can then be used to index the document, perform processing and ensure better findability.
Versioning: Granular and multi-tier version control (e.g. Major, minor and revision releases) allow for each change in the document or its meta data to be stored and indexed according to it’s importance. Making it clear how the information came to be and who was responsible for what change.
Life cycle management: having life cycle management ensures drafting of documents is possible, while still keeping access to the last released version of the document for the public without having to take the document out of the system (and controlled process). It also allows for controlled release of data to the main public. For instance after formal approval or processing has been done.
Processing / workflow: Often additional actions are required when new data is stored. Contracts need to be approved, scanned invoices need to be cross checked and information needs to be transferred to other systems. Based on meta data or document type, processing or workflows can help make sure this happens. By formalizing it in technical procedures better control can be exerted over the execution.
Monitoring / review: Information is only relevant if it is regularly reviewed and updated. By having regular reviews and monitoring alerts based on the document type or meta data specific to the document, information is kept up to date and relevant. But it’s not just the fact that this is possible, it’s the fact that the process and system is guarding it which makes it valuable as it no longer just depends on individuals taking responsibility and can be monitored centrally.
Record management: More and more regulations and legislation demand specific control on what happens to business process information. Controlling what happens to data at which state of its life cycle; how long information needs to be accessible, when it has to be archived or removed and who, if any, is allowed to delete data, are all key factors in complying with these requirements.
Auditing: Knowing not just who theoretically has access but also who has accessed (even just as a reader) documents, who has edited them and who has send them, makes it possible to better understand and account for what happens with information. Especially where information is critical to the business process and highly sensitive.
Document management & social file sharing
So where does document management stand in the social revolution? Well to me, document management and social file sharing platforms stand firmly next to each other. Social platforms are a fantastic way to capture information and to collaborate on it but at the same time it is not about predictable structure. Document management is, but has trouble handling unstructured data. As is recognized by IBM for instance who is actively building integration between their social platform IBM Connections and document management / ECM systems like Filenet, Alfresco and even Sharepoint.
So coming back to that question on why I still work with both; it’s because they complement each other and allow me to work on both ends of the data spectrum. Building controlled and strict process driven document management environments to capture that structured data, while on the other hand utilizing social platforms to effectively capture the loose, elusive unstructured data out there.
Social tools therefore aren’t replacing my love or specialty for document management, they are expanding it. So, No. They don’t offer a conflict of interests when talking about data management. Only opportunities to capture even more of its fast array of appearances and I feel lucky that I have a job where I get to work with both.
ps. in one of my upcoming blogs I will try to go a bit more into some of the document management functionalities we’ve implemented in our projects with some real life examples of problems and solutions we used. keep an eye on this blog for that one if you’re interested or contact me if you want to know more about document management.
IBM Connections Folders #2: Ownership of files and folders
Tue, Apr 15th 2014 1:14p Femke Goedhart This blog is follow up in a series of blogs on Folders in IBM Connections. For full understanding I would recommend reviewing #1: Community Folders first
Ownership is quite important in IBM Connection when it comes to data. Why? Well because ownership isn’t always straight forward and sometimes data shouldn’t be public.
Obvious! Why would you even need to say that?
Well… The premises of any social platform like IBM Connections is to share. That means that in theory the thinking [read] Keywords: connections
IBM Connections Folders #1: Community Folders
Mon, Apr 14th 2014 9:12a Femke Goedhart Last week CR4 for IBM Connections 4.5 came out. An intermediate update that had a few new options for file management in IBM Connections. One of which was the ability to add Communities folders. Until now the standard option to get a folder in a community Files section was to create one in your personal files and share that with the community. Control and ownership would however remain with the user, not the community. This has now been extended with the option to create a folder specifically [read] Keywords: connections
Shared folders – potential security issue
Sun, Apr 13th 2014 4:49p Femke Goedhart IBM Connections allows users to share personal folders with groups, communities and users. An ideal option to share sets of documents/files with multiple target audiences at the same time. There are however some caveats. Especially in situations where Shared Folders are used to share potentially sensitive information with Restricted (secured) communities. If your organization uses Shared Folders I would strongly advise looking at the below example to get an idea of the potential risks so you can [read] Keywords: admin
Engage user group – session slides
Wed, Mar 19th 2014 8:11a Femke Goedhart I had the honor of being able to present two sessions earlier this week at the Engage usergroup event in Breda, the Netherlands with two great co-speakers. The slides of both sessions have been published to Slideshare:
Getting to the core, requirements gathering in the wild
Sophie Lavignac-Le Madec & Femke Goedhart
The basis of any good project is good requirements. Knowing what it is you are going to build / get determines whether your project will be a success or a flat out failure. In [read] Keywords: connections
Connecting to Connect: Andrew Grill – shifting from Social Media to Social Business
Thu, Jan 30th 2014 11:12a Femke Goedhart Andrew Grill moved from social influencer statistics in the Social Media realm and being the CEO of KRED to focusing on adoption of Social Business in his new role at IBM Interactive. He made time on Wednesday between his sessions, meetings and panels to talk about social analytics, how Social Business is the next step after Social Media, his role within IBM and the conference at large.
Download link – MP3
Andrew Grill: Blog – Twitter
Social Business Engagement Center for IBM Co [read] Keywords: ibm
Connecting to Connect: Warren Elsmore about… LEGO!
Tue, Jan 28th 2014 2:11p Femke Goedhart “The IBM Champions in LEGO”
LEGO? Yes LEGO! It might be a tech conference but where there are nerds LEGO is soon to follow. No wonder that Warren Elsmore – who went from being a consultant to being a full time Lego professional and book author – is there to liven up the social cafe!
Download link – MP3
Warren Elsmore: Blog – Twitter
“Brick city – LEGO for Grown ups” (book)
The IBM Connect game leaderboard… in LEGO! [read] Keywords: ibm