Defining a Document Management System (DMS)
To institute the use of a document management system (DMS), you have to understand a little about the benefits and features of this file technology. This kind of file system, which is used to store electronic data, is an integral component of an organization’s enterprise content management (ECM) system.
The Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System
The ECM itself is made up of the components and tools that are needed to capture, organize, file, maintain, and deliver text and images within a company or business. Therefore, an ECM system involves the management of data within an organization, whether it takes the form, electronically, of a document, file, or email correspondence.
An Eco-friendly Way to Run a Business
A DMS then enables a business to reduce paper waste, cut costs, and increase file security, thereby streamlining operations and realizing a greater return on investment (ROI).
How it All Began
The computerized document management system first took form in the decade of the 70s. At that time, software products were introduced that made it possible to file and store documents as well as images. As time progressed, electronic document management (EDM) systems were developed, which could handle all types of file formats that could be electronically filed and stored. Applications were designed that enhanced both collaboration and security.
The Benefits of a Data Management Systems (DMS)
Therefore, deploying a DMS is important to a business’s success, whether it is an SME (small to medium enterprise) or a large-sized company. A DMS allows you to:
- Conveniently share data with anyone, regardless of where they are located.
- Secure files so any unauthorized access is prevented.
- Enhance your reputation as an eco-friendly company – going paperless can do a lot toward saving our natural resources and reducing environmental waste.
- Save money with respect to buying stationery and paper, disposing debris and waste, freeing up work space, and reducing overhead costs.
Make Sure You Have a Disaster Recovery Plan in Place
Part of the savings that are incurred come from eliminating all those extra file cabinets or shelves. However, you’ll still need to use a shredder as well as regular file back-up. A back-up solution will enable you to access your files in case of an emergency, and therefore should be integrally included in your business’s disaster recovery plan.
While the above benefits outline the reasons for buying a DMS, the following descriptions give you an overview of the operational features of such a system. For example:
- Metadata is basically the major details that are included about the information that is stored in a DMS. By including metadata, DMS software can extract text from electronic documents or employ OCR (optical character recognition) to source or locate information.
Groupware Software Permits Collaboration with other Software Programs
- Integration can also be used so users can easily edit documents and save the text in its new form. Integration is represented by:
- ODMA or Open Document API (Application Programming Interface), which makes it easier to retrieve files;
- LDAP or Lightweight Directory Access Protocol, which is used to access and maintain directory information services that are distributed over the IP (Internet Protocol) network (the IP is the main protocol for network communications);
- WebDAV (Distributed Authoring and Versioning), which makes it possible for users to edit and manage documents on the servers of the Word Wide Web; and
- SOAP (Simple Object Access Protocol), whose process allows for the exchange of structured data in facilitating web based services.
The User Datagram Protocol: A Central Member of the Internet Protocol (IP) Suite, UDP is used for computer applications in the transmission of datagrams or messages to IP hosts.
Integration is typically implemented in Office Suite software (which is made up of several productivity programs) or via electronic mail.
- Capture, with respect to a DMS, entails the acceptance and processing of imaged paperwork by means of an optical character recognition (OCR) program. Therefore, documents can be scanned and printed and stored on a computer system. Also, reproducing content or images that are stored in a DMS is important in selecting a system too.
- Storage of electronic data involves those processes which include the back-up of files, management of data, and destruction of documents.
- Document retrieval entails using keywords or metadata to locate content or images.
- Indexing of documents supports the retrieval process and takes the form of word or content-based classification.
- Versioning is part of the retrieval process too as it enables users to extract previous versions of data from another time and update the content.
- Security and distribution are essential components of a data management system. Therefore, distribution carriers that are well-recognized and endorsed for the transmission of data must be retained and used.
- Workflow modules are also featured on some DMS programs and are defined by two basic applications. For example:
- A rules-based application gives the administrator the ability to insert a measure that directs the workflow within a company; and
- A manual-based app allows the user to choose, for example, where he wants to send a specific document.
Basic Considerations for Choosing a DMS
So, if you’re now in the process of deciding on a data management system for your office or business, you’ll need to consider you business’s requirements with respect to input, storage, reporting, and security.
Recommendations for Buying a System
Files or data can be stored by manual means or by importing or scanning data. Therefore, when you choose a system, you’ll also want to make sure that the system keeps track of redundancies. You should be able to compress those records that are rarely accessed and quickly retrieve data that is used time and again. Once more, make sure you have a back-up solution in place in case your business is affected by a natural disaster or emergency.
Security is of Paramount Importance
Naturally, security is of vital importance. After all, it rather defeats the purpose of filing computerized data without the implementation of specific safeguards. That means enforcing security access for anyone who inputs data, stores records, or destroys the files in your company’s database. Therefore, you’ll want to maintain a list of users, especially those who have access to sensitive information, and routinely check for files that are incomplete or which may need to be disposed.
About the Author
Craig Hollingum has been in the Document Imaging business for well over half of his life. He has been involved in Micro Com Systems Ltd. on an evolutionary path as an employee/partner/sole owner since 1982
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