From Documentum to Document Management

From Documentum to Document Management

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The Evolution of Document Management

I recently saw a picture posted on social media of stacks and stacks of tax returns awaiting manual processing at the IRS. The number of person-hours required to process and enter data from all of those 1040s is mind-boggling. While not every business or agency has quite this level of document management overhead, dealing with paper forms and disorganized electronic documents costs time, money, risk, and employee burnout. So what was once a goal to become “paper free” has now evolved to innovative solutions that actively manage the life cycle of documents, or content as we also refer to it. 

From a metal cabinet to digital document management

Since the invention of the filing cabinet in 1898, ingenious people have been improving how we store, retrieve, and manage our paperwork. In 1985 the first scanner was invented, and we’ve never looked back. However, storing electronic documents in the computer version of a filing cabinet and sharing file folders on a server still presented challenges. Lost documents, duplicate documents, obsolete documents, and lack of control over documents in general plagued modern offices.

Software companies recognized and responded to this challenge by building ever-more sophisticated content management tools to help manage our piles of documents. One of the earliest players in this space was Documentum. Documentum was started in 1990 and built bespoke document management solutions for Boeing and Syntex. From there they moved into client/server and then web-based enterprise document management systems (what we now refer to as enterprise content management systems), moving to their first web native solution with Documentum 4i in 2000, which integrated business process management with content management.

document management solution

Modern content management features

As document management or enterprise content management (ECM) has evolved, it’s gone from fairly simple “user managed file storage” to highly automated systems that provide a lot more value than simply being a digital filing cabinet. What are some of the more advanced features found in todays’ enterprise content management system?

  • Document capture – Bringing scanned or electronic documents into the document repository for processing and storage.
  • Processing/validation – Using artificial intelligence to identify document type, extract data from the document, and validate document fields, as well as queuing up exceptions for human review.
  • Assign metadata – Assigning Metadata tags to the document based on the document’s characteristics as determined in document processing.
  • Indexing – Using metadata and document content to classify the document for retrieval, collaboration, and workflow purposes.
  • Versioning – Ensuring document integrity by allowing document check-out/check-in and automatically tracking changes to a document.
  • Storage – Giving the document an electronic home, as well as the management of document life cycle and document archiving or destruction.
  • Retrieval – Enabling push/pull retrieval of documents through advanced search or queuing capabilities to ensure that authorized users can quickly access the documents they need.
  • Collaboration – Allowing one or more authorized user to access or edit the document, ensuring that all changes are incorporated and versioned correctly
  • Workflow – Moving a document through a pre-assigned set of user actions or enabling users to create workflow by assigning documents to other users.
  • Security – Preventing unauthorized parties from viewing, editing, copying, or deleting stored documents.

The benefits of a document management solution

Those are some pretty cool features, but aren’t ECM solutions expensive? How will it benefit my organization to implement a robust enterprise content management system? Will it really pay for itself and/or save me money? What kind of organizations need an ECM system? When every dollar we spend for technology is scrutinized, I have to present a solid use case for this kind of investment.

Those are all fair and smart questions to be asking! So to help you create a stronger argument for investing in and leveraging the right enterprise content management solution, here are a few key benefits to consider:

  • Reduce your operational costs – If your organization processes a lot of paper documents manually, there is an inherent cost in handling, entering the data from, and storing those documents. Even handling electronic documents can be time-consuming if you don’t have a single, integrated document repository. I’ve seen a lot of scenarios where a company received an electronic file from a vendor or partner, for example, but then had an employee upload those into a system and manually process the inevitable file or record failures.
  • Reduce your risk – Manually processing and storing paper documents comes with built-in risks, such as data entry mistakes, lost documents, slow processing, security breaches, and even the risk of flood or fire destroying your archives.
  • Increase your regulatory compliance – Organizations operating in a regulated space (banks, educational institutions, government agencies, insurance companies, medical practices, etc.) can respond to audits or meet regulatory requirements much easier with an enterprise content management system in place. Document security and document retention can be big challenges for these types of organizations, but the right ECM solution will have you covered for both.
  • Improve and speed up your decision making – The time lag involved in manual document processing means that up-to-date information isn’t available for decision makers. Their dashboards, reports, and other decision-making supports won’t reflect current data or status.
organize content with a document management solution

Enterprise Content Management systems we love to work with

If you’re interested in exploring enterprise content management options or you’re considering upgrading from an old-school document repository (like Documentum) to one of the next-generation ECM platforms, here are some of the ones we have deployed and setup for numerous organizations and businesses over the years.

  • Alfresco – Alfresco offers a full suite of content management solutions that allows organizations to integrate records management into their daily processes. Out of the box integrations allow for implementation within your existing ecosystem without a lot of coding. We can even build in workflow, business rules, and security protocols to jump-start your realization of ECM benefits. Cloud based document storage allows you to get rid of the cost and headache of maintaining your own data warehouse.
  • M-Files – The M-Files enterprise content management system excels at workflow automation, ensuring the right content gets to the right person when they need it, no matter what type of device they are working from. A powerful, full-featured ECM solution, M-Files offers proven ROI to a broad range of organizations. Built-in integrations with popular productivity tools simplifies the implementation. Check out this video covering an M-Soft and Salesforce integration project we worked on.
  • Ephesoft – Ephesoft is an ECM solution that leverages an intelligent document processing featuring built on machine learning. Its powerful AI features allow organizations to “teach” the software how to process and handle different types of documents with ease. With a lot of out of the box integrations, Ephesoft works well with your other productivity and workflow automation tools. This video details an amazing Ephesoft project we worked on for a client in the oil and gas industry.
  • Simflofy – Simflofly’s unique value proposition is combining structured and unstructured data on one integrated data management platform called a federated content management system. Connecting different content systems under one umbrella solution, Simflofly works well for organizations that already have various data and document storage solutions that simply need to be unified. Our VP of Technology Strategy Lisa Hill recently wrote an article explaining federated content management that dives into more detail on how this works and benefits organizations.

If you are considering an enterprise content management system for your organization, this article by Zeke Woollett is a great case study centered on the rigorous ECM selection process for a state agency in Texas. At the end of the day we are technology experts with a passion for helping businesses make technology their strategic advantage, so we’re always happy to chat about different ECM systems to help you find the right solution that best supports your business objectives!

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