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.
How to prevent the community manager from exploding
Fri, Apr 26th 2013 2:19p Femke Goedhart To all organizations who think they’ve got it all sorted out so nicely because they have a community manager MANAGE it all…
Calling them ‘manager’ doesn’t mean they can control everything their community does or say unless you actually:
give them managerial rights over their community members (which you can’t if the community is comprised of customers or external parties);
inform them of the things you are doing BEFORE you are doing them instead of just dropp [read] Keywords: community
From describing to applying – user training taken seriously
Fri, Apr 12th 2013 10:17a Femke Goedhart It still is one of the most common mistakes made ever… Implementing new or updated software without providing user training as the reasoning is: “Oh, we don’t need to train our users. They have been using this (or similar) software for years, surely they know by now how to use it“.
Well, do they really? I’ve recently been involved in several adoption projects where we trained both new users as well as users who had been using collaboration tools for years on how com [read] Keywords: collaboration
IBM Connections 4.5 and Connections Content Manager available
Fri, Mar 29th 2013 11:14a Femke Goedhart As announced the IBM Connections 4.5 release and the Connections Content Manager add-on were made available for download today through the appropriate channels. The following sites give information on features, links to relevant content and pricing:
blog by Luis Benitez with relevant video’s and links
Official IBM Connections 4.5 product page
Official IBM Connections 4.5 documentation wiki
Official CCM product page & pricing (US)
Enjoy! [read] Keywords: connections
IBM Connections 4.5 and Connections Content Manager release dates announced
Tue, Mar 12th 2013 4:38a Femke Goedhart IBM outdid itself this time by announcing the release of IBM Connections 4.5 and the new Connections Content Manager for March 29th 2013. Only 2 months after first presenting it at IBM Connect.
On top of the great new features IBM Connections 4.5 offers, Connections Content Manager will additionally offer document management functionality like checkin-checkout, nested folders, versioning & draft control as well as integrated access security to organize and control content within the IBM Conn [read] Keywords: connections
Job interview with a twist
Thu, Feb 21st 2013 1:56a Femke Goedhart Usually I don’t really buy into these as it is of course a clever way of advertising a beer brand, but… I do love the premises of taking a process like the hiring process that is so standard, mandated and rigid that it has taken out any chance of really showing your true personality as a candidate and twisting it around completely to become something in which you can’t help but show something of yourself. But more then that, I love the idea of the voting. Making the hiring proc [read] Keywords:
BLUG – speaking of social document management
Tue, Feb 12th 2013 5:12a Femke Goedhart Yet again Theo Heselmans and team have managed to do the impossible: get an absolutely fantastic line up together for the upcoming BLUG event in Leuven, Belgium on March 21-22.
I'm honered to say my session “Folksonomy versus Taxonomy, Social Document management in IBM Connections” about document management in general and the new integration of libraries in IBM Connections (CCM) in particular was accepted and I look forward to seeing so many from the IBM community in just over a [read] Keywords: connections
Blackberry I hate you… or do I??
Mon, Feb 4th 2013 2:54p Femke Goedhart Yes, you read it correctly. For the last few years I’ve been loathing my Blackberry Bold. It’s clunky, slow loading, the apps don’t do what I want them to do (heck, they won’t even update without requiring a full reboot which takes at least 15min), installing apps is an absolute nightmare and most of all I hate it’s really unhandy position of the mute, hold and speaker buttons on the ‘phone’ screen.
Why you ask? Well because the ‘phone’ app i [read] Keywords: ibm