Project Managers Perspective On Document Management System
A Document Management System (DMS) is an information system which is used to store and track electronic documents or scanned images of paper documents. There are several factors implicated in managing documents regardless of the system being an informal ad hoc paper based process or a formal structured organization wide repository.
In the case of electronic Document Management systems, the documents are hosted on a shared resource and changes to these documents are updated on the Configuration Management Plan and this system is under controlled access by Project Managers. Most documents management systems by mandatory, need to address the issues described as follows.
The location of the Document management system whether it is accessed by physical filing cabinets or through online navigation?
The methods used to file documents. Whether documents are stored in a database or filing system and how they are indexed and organized?
How documents can be retrieved in a fast and effective manner?
How can the security of the system be ensured and allow only authorized access?
What kind of disaster recovery procedures needs to be adopted?.
How long documents should be retained?
As organization grows and more practices and guidelines come into picture and more information is gathered, this matter regarding retention is of concern. How can documents be preserved and archived for future readability?
How documents can be circulated and made available to the stakeholders who require it?
What is the workflow of the documents if it needs to go through review and approval process? How is version control of document adhered to? How are the traceability history and the authentication proof of the document maintained?
The chief components provided by a document management system are Metadata, Integration, Capture, Indexing, Storage, Retrieval, Distribution, Collaboration, Versioning and Publishing.
Metadata is usually stored for each document. It may include the date or identity of the author. Some document management systems have the capability to integrate with the application so that users can access and make changes without leaving the application. Such integration is obtainable from office suites or collaboration software.
Scanners, multifunctional printers, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is used as part of Capture process. To track documents and enable fast retrieval , indexing is done which may be a simple process of using unique identifiers for documents or more complex indexes formed or extracted from the contents of the documents.
Storage of documents involves the media in which it is stored, the concept of migration from one media to another in case of hierarchical storage management and destruction and shredding of documents after retention period. Retrieval of documents is a simple notion, but the retrieval process may be complicated and powerful.
Flexible retrieval methods may allow the users to specify partial or full search terms on the contents of the document and retrieve the list of potentially relevant documents.
A document that is to be circulated and distributed should be in a format that cannot be easily be altered. In case the document is supposed to be circulated in a regulatory environment then the interchange system should be quality endorsed. The security of the documents is vital in many applications.
Some systems allow only authorized users. Some document systems have a built in work flow module. Workflow can be manual or rule based where a rule is created that dictates the flow of the document for review and approval purposes.
Collaboration should be a inherent quality of an electronic document management system. Highly developed forms of collaboration allow various userss to view and modify a document in the same session or in some basic cases only a single authorized user can work on any given instance.
Versioning is done when it is required to maintain all the copies of documents that change over a period. A check in/ check out feature is implemented to allow users to update a particular version. Publishing of a document may involve proof reading, peer reviewing, authorizing, printing etc. This ensures that inaccuracies are corrected and misconception avoided. Some organizations publish their own lists of document control standards and rules. The ISO has in addition published a series of standards concerning technical documentation.
With the advances in technology , there are many robust Document Management Software built that comes with features such as an integrated scanning, business process workflow and form processing software that enable organizations to automate manual process and add agility, flexibility, improved productivity to it, thus securing the exchange of vital business documents between critical stakeholders.
Project managers should ensure that when changes are made in the infra structure. IT platforms or Document Management integrated applications, there is no adverse effect in the Document Management system or breaks in its functionality. Periodic review and assessment of the Document management System is done to identify setbacks or disruptions that lead to degradation of the system. The current or potential issues should be pro actively identified and strategies for growth, adaptation and renewal of the Document Management System highlighted periodically.
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