Electronic Data Management To Aid Knowledge Capture

New Delhi: | Updated: Sep 30 2003, 05:30am hrs
There is a load of data, information and knowledge that is either created or transacted in an organisation through its various business processes. And, most of this information travels on the electronic network infrastructure of the companies as forms, mails or memos. Ironically, enterprise software solutions that have been in vogue for the past decade, are unable to capture a substantial part of this information that is generated in informal communications.

Experts believe that the purpose of an effective knowledge management concept gets defeated without accumulating the information that flows in mails and memos and does not find a place in a relational database of an enterprise solution. So what should IT managers do to resolve this issue Electronic Document Management (EDM) system offers a solution.


EDM Technologies
The electronic document management (EDM) system uses a variety of technologies to support following processes:

Data acquisition with image processing to enter, store, extract, display, distribute and manage business data that are not yet in digital form; tools for text input and document composition and assembly to create and modify documents.

Document management with database management tools or library management tools for intelligent document storage; configuration management tools to integrate the interdependence of documents in order to understand the impact of a change on the documentation chain as a whole; workflow technologies to manage the flow of operations, automation of information circulation processes and authorisation control; revision control and version management tools; etc.

Communication based on a network infrastructure for sharing information and ensuring communication between applications. Groupware tools, for example, interface with mail programmes to provide communication between a variety of office technology document applications.

However, before we go further, it is important to understand that the concept of EDM exists in many forms of the software systems being used by companies today and has been given different names depending on the applications. For information on the Internet, it is called content management. Workflow management is all about the exchange of information and discussions among employees in a structured form.

For example, a new concept of Business Process Management (BPM) is also being coined by the software product and solutions vendor community as an answer to the problems and complexities of document and workflow management. Though no one standard definition is available on BPM, the concept is broadly defined as a system to sit on top of the enterprise solutions and to integrate all the business processes including communication in an organisation.

A UK-based software solution company Staffware Plc which offers a software solution called Staffware Process Suite has recently entered the Indian market. The company, through its solution, claims to connect people to people, people to application and application to application in an organisation. Staffware has also bagged an order from HDFC Standard Life to implement its BPM solution.

Staffware defines BPM as what automates and streamlines processes from a high-level point of view of the numerous action in the core operation of an organisation with an independent process layer. A system that provides a complete set of tools to create, transform and streamline the internal and external processes and tasks of an organisation.

According to Staffware country manager Paul Maguire, the process suite facilitates the use of workflow and document imaging technologies by an organisation to gain competitive advantage in the market place.

Similarly, a global engineering design software company, Autodesk also claims to offer solutions that help the users manage documents, exchange information and processes along with their core software product for collaborative project management. The company offers an online collaborative project management software called Streamline specially designed for manufacturing companies. The company has also launched a similar solution Buzzsaw to cater to construction and architect companies.

Document management is an integral part of the collaborative project solutions offered by Autodesk. A well-defined document folder is essential for project collaboration. It provides fast and easy access to documents in a multi-tiered, structured security level and a familiar interface, Autodesk global senior director for building collaboration services Amar Hanspal said.

It is not only global companies that are in the race to outpace each other to offer solutions for document managementhome-grown software firms are also not far behind. A Delhi-based software product and services company, Newgen Software has also developed a solution specifically for managing electronic documents.

In all, electronic documents have already become a must-have for an IT manager to leverage the old investments made by the company in building IT infrastructure in last few years. How these new solutions will evolve into an integrated IT environment of a modern organisation is yet to be proven, though.