Document Management Software:
A document management system (DMS) is a computer system (or set of computer programs) used to track and store electronic documents and/or images of paper documents. The term has some overlap with the concepts of Content Management Systems and is often viewed as a component of Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECM) and related to Digital Asset Management, Document imaging, Workflow systems and Records Management systems. Contract Management and Contract Lifecycle Management (CLM) can be viewed as either components or implementations of ECM..
In the broadest sense, document management systems can range from a shoebox all the way to an enterprise content management system. There are several common issues that are involved in managing documents, whether the system is an informal, ad-hoc, paper-based method for one person or if it is a formal, structured, computer enhanced system for many people across multiple offices. Most methods for managing documents address the following areas:
Where will documents be stored? Where will people need to go to access documents? Physical journeys to filing cabinets and file rooms are analogous to the onscreen navigation required to use a document management system.
How will documents be filed? What methods will be used to organize or index the documents to assist in later retrieval? Document management systems will typically use a database to store filing information.
How will documents be found? Typically, retrieval encompasses both browsing through documents and searching for specific information. What kind of information about documents are indexed for rapid retrieval?
How will documents be kept secure? How will unauthorized personnel be prevented from reading, modifying or destroying documents?
How can documents be recovered in case of destruction from fires, floods or natural disasters?
How long should documents be kept, i.e. retained? As organizations grow and regulations increase, informal guidelines for keeping various types of documents give way to more formal records management practices.
How can documents be preserved for future readability?
How can documents be available to the people that need them?
If documents need to pass from one person to another, what are the rules for how their work should flow?
How are documents created? This question becomes important when multiple people need to collaborate, and the logistics of version control and authoring arise.
Is there a way to vouch for the authenticity of a document?
Traceability / Audit
When, where and by whom are documents created, modified, published and stored
Document management systems commonly provide storage, versioning, metadata, security, as well as indexing and retrieval capabilities. Here is a description of these components:
Metadata is typically stored for each document. Metadata may, for example, include the date the document was stored and the identity of the user storing it. The DMS may also extract metadata from the document automatically or prompt the user to add metadata. Some systems also use optical character recognition on scanned images, or perform text extraction on electronic documents. The resulting extracted text can be used to assist users in locating documents by identifying probable keywords or providing for full text search capability, or can be used on its own. Extracted text can also be stored as a component of metadata, stored with the image, or separately as a source for searching document collections.
Many document management systems attempt to integrate document management directly into other applications, so that users may retrieve existing documents directly from the document management system repository, make changes, and save the changed document back to the repository as a new version, all without leaving the application. Such integration is commonly available for office suites and e-mail or collaboration/groupware software. Integration often uses open standards such as ODMA, LDAP, WebDAV and SOAP to allow integration with other software and compliance with internal controls.
Images of paper documents using scanners or multifunction printers. Optical character recognition (OCR) software (see Expervision, Abbyy) is often used, whether integrated into the hardware or as stand-alone software, in order to convert digital images into machine readable text.
Track electronic documents. Indexing may be as simple as keeping track of unique document identifiers; but often it takes a more complex form, providing classification through the documents' metadata or even through word indexes extracted from the documents' contents. Indexing exists mainly to support retrieval. One area of critical importance for rapid retrieval is the creation of an index topology.
Store electronic documents. Storage of the documents often includes management of those same documents; where they are stored, for how long, migration of the documents from one storage media to another (hierarchical storage management) and eventual document destruction.
Retrieve the electronic documents from the storage. Although the notion of retrieving a particular document is simple, retrieval in the electronic context can be quite complex and powerful. Simple retrieval of individual documents can be supported by allowing the user to specify the unique document identifier, and having the system use the basic index (or a non-indexed query on its data store) to retrieve the document. More flexible retrieval allows the user to specify partial search terms involving the document identifier and/or parts of the expected metadata. This would typically return a list of documents which match the user's search terms. Some systems provide the capability to specify a Boolean expression containing multiple keywords or example phrases expected to exist within the documents' contents. The retrieval for this kind of query may be supported by previously-built indexes, or may perform more time-consuming searches through the documents' contents to return a list of the potentially relevant documents. See also Document retrieval.
A published document for distribution has to be in a format that can not be easily altered. As a common practice in law regulated industries, an original master copy of the document is usually never used for distribution other than archiving. If a document is to be distributed electronically in a regulatory environment, then the equipment tasking the job has to be quality endorsed AND validated. Similarly quality endorsed electronic distribution carriers have to be used. This approach applies to both of the systems by which the document is to be inter-exchanged, if the integrity of the document is highly in demand.
Document security is vital in many document management applications. Compliance requirements for certain documents can be quite complex depending on the type of documents. For instance the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements dictate that medical documents have certain security requirements. Some document management systems have a rights management module that allows an administrator to give access to documents based on type to only certain people or groups of people.
Workflow is a complex problem and some document management systems have a built in workflow module. There are different types of workflow. Usage depends on the environment the electronic document management system (EDMS) is applied to. Manual workflow requires a user to view the document and decide who to send it to. Rules-based workflow allows an administrator to create a rule that dictates the flow of the document through an organization: for instance, an invoice passes through an approval process and then is routed to the accounts payable department. Dynamic rules allow for branches to be created in a workflow process. A simple example would be to enter an invoice amount and if the amount is lower than a certain set amount, it follows different routes through the organization.
Collaboration should be inherent in an EDMS. Documents should be capable of being retrieved by an authorized user and worked on. Access should be blocked to other users while work is being performed on the document.
Versioning is a process by which documents are checked in or out of the document management system, allowing users to retrieve previous versions and to continue work from a selected point. Versioning is useful for documents that change over time and require updating, but it may be necessary to go back to a previous copy.
Publishing a document is sometime tedious and involves the procedures of proofreading, peer or public reviewing, authorizing, printing and approving etc. Those steps endure prudence and logic thinking. Any careless handling may result in the inaccuracy of the document and therefore misleading or upset its users and readers. In law regulated industries, some of the procedures have to be completed with the evidences of their corresponding signatures and the dates on which the document is signed. Refer to the ISO divisions of ICS 01.140.40 and 35.240.30 for further information.
The published document should be in a format that is not easily altered without a specific knowledge or tools, and yet it is read-only or portable.
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