Document Management System( DMS)

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Current document management technology grows out of the business community where some 80% of corporate information resides in documents. The need for greater efficiencies in handling business documents to gain an edge on the competition has fueled the rapid development of Document Management Systems (DMS) over the last two years

Document management has replaced data management -- the focus of computing for the last twenty years -- as the latest challenge facing information technologists. This backgrounder provides a general overview of document management, its associated standards, and trends for the year to come, and prominent vendors of document management products.

What is document management?Document management is the ...

Document management is the automated control of electronic documents - page images, spreadsheets, word processing documents, and complex, compound documents - through their entire life cycle within an organization, from initial creation to final archiving.

Document management allows organizations to exert greater control over the production, storage, and distribution of documents, yielding greater efficiencies in the ability to reuse information, to control a document through a workflow process, and to reduce product cycle times. The full range of functions that a document management system may perform includes document identification, storage and retrieval, tracking, version control, workflow management, and presentation. Traditionally, there have been two classes of document management:

Management of fixed images of pages (the class that seems to be most familiar to librarians); and Management of editable documents, such as word processing files and spreadsheets. These two classes differ largely in the fact that images are static, while editable documents are dynamic and changing. The functions associated with the two classes differ as well. Systems supporting images focus on access, with input, indexing and retrieval as important functions, while systems supporting editable documents focus on creation, with joint authoring, workflow, and revision control at the centre

Elements of a document management system (DMS)The elements of a DMS include ...

The elements of a DMS include software to perform all functions necessary to manage the document across an organization from cradle to grave. Each element is described below.

Underlying infrastructure. While not part of an application per se, an appropriate underlying infrastructure in nevertheless a prerequisite to supporting a DMS. The infrastructure is the set of desktop computers, workstations, and servers that are interconnected by LANs and/or WANs. It must have characteristics such as network operating system independence, file format independence, location independence, long file names, and link tracking.

Authoring. Authoring tools support document creation. Some more sophisticated tools support structured or guided authoring, where authors are constrained by the system to enter data in specified ways. Typically, they are interfaced with DMSs in order to capture document metadata at the time of creation and revision.

Workflow. Workflow is defined as the coordination of tasks, data, and people to make a business process more efficient, effective, and adaptable to change. It is the control of information throughout all phases of a process. The path of a particular document is determined by the document type (e.g., press releases, manuals, policy papers, memos), the processes governing a document, and organizational roles (i.e., who has the authority to see what?). It supports functions such as authoring, revising, routing, commentary, approval, conditional branching, and the establishment of deadlines and milestones.

Trends in electronic document structuresThe trend in document management ...

The trend in document management is away from the management of static documents toward complex, compound documents. In general, electronic documents fall on a continuum with static documents at one end and complex, compound documents at the other. Static documents, such as digital images, are the least flexible -- they cannot be edited or made machine readable without further processing (i.e., optical character recognition).

Next along are static, but editable documents, such as word processing documents and spreadsheets. While modifiable, these documents are: a) tied explicitly to one application (e.g., WordPerfect); b) considered to be "dumb" in that they contain little or no information about themselves; and c) typically flat files, or information blobs, prohibiting access of specific information elements within them.

Complex, compound documents at the far end of the continuum, however, exhibit none of the above characteristics. They are not tied to one application or platform; they are dynamic, constantly in a process of change; and they are "intelligent", carrying information about their content and structure. In this way, documents are reflecting the trend toward object-oriented architectures, where information is contained in objects -- units of information of a finer granularity than traditional documents -- which also contain information about themselves and their originating applications.

Why use document management systemsVendors and representatives ...

Vendors and representatives of companies that have implemented DMSs, repeatedly stress the need to examine business-critical objectives before embarking on DMS projects. For businesses, such as engineering, insurance, and pharmaceutical firms, the goal of automating document management is to get control of and increase the efficiency of the flow of documents that support their business, producing aircraft or automobiles, processing insurance claims, creating and getting approval for new drugs.

Leveraging intellectual capital such that knowledge is created once, then reused many times Managing workflow, controlling the flow of information through all phases of a process Fostering more effective teamwork to accelerate business-critical applications Delivering products faster with better customer service (reduce cycle times) Allowing rapid response to events

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