Knowledge Management

Information is every organisation’s most valuable asset and managing this information is essential. The amount of data and information within an organisation is growing dramatically. Efficient management of information can result in better customer service, improved internal communication, better decision making and enhanced productivity.

Information management systems provide the foundations to turn corporate data into intelligent, shared information by providing a central information source accessible to all. These systems have changed over time and evolved to meet various business requirements, such as remote working.

Document Management Definition: “Document Management is the process of managing documents through their lifecycle. From inception through creation, review, storage and dissemination all the way to their destruction” (Document Management Avenue).

Document management systems started to appear in the mid 1980’s. The original aim was to develop a system to enable the paperless office. Scanning all paper documents and retrieving them electronically was about as complex as it got. These early file and find systems were simply electronic filing cabinets.

The document management market has been revolutionised over the past 10 years by technological advances. Now document management systems capture almost any type of document not just paper but electronic documents, HTML, e-mails, EDI, XML, etc. They still allow you to store, search and retrieve documents, but the retrieval is now instant from anywhere and the search options much wider.

Another major enhancement to document management was the introduction of workflow. Workflow is defined as “an IT technology which uses electronic systems to manage and monitor business processes. It allows the flow of work between individuals and/or departments to be defined and tracked” (Document Management Avenue). It has become an integral part of many document management solutions and meant that it was possible to progress from simple file and find systems to a solution that could ‘manage’ documents; tracking the process of distributing documents, and monitoring and controlling work. The Internet is transforming the way that workflow is used and has led to a new term: eProcess. Research group Ovum defines eProcess as “workflow for the e-business. e-Process extends the concept of process automation to include a company’s partners, suppliers and customers”. Instead of monitoring organisation-wide processes, eProcess is extended to include any external organisations. For document management this means it is possible to effectively integrate documents with their partners, suppliers and customers. This increases collaboration between organisations and improves the efficiency of the supply chain.

Version Control

The definition of document management includes the ability to manage a document through its life cycle from creation to archive. While a document is live it may need to be worked on and altered by any number of people. Version control ensures you do not have clashing versions of documents. Version control gives “control over exactly who can edit documents and enter new documents into the system and avoids any update conflicts” (Cimtech). This involves checking out any documents that are being edited and locking them, allowing users to either save as newer versions or over-write old versions.

“In the future, document management will become established as a vital business tool for all organisations looking to share information on an enterprise basis” (Document Management Update)

Summary of document management:

Manage all types of document
Workflow and eProcess
Version Control
An evolved technology that forms the basis for content and knowledge management
Fast becoming a must-have for competitive business

Content management and knowledge management systems are basically extensions of the document management concept and this is where a lot of the confusion arises.

Content Management

Definition: “a set of tasks and processes for managing content explicitly targeted for publication on the Web throughout its life from creation to archive” (Ovum).

Content management solutions are essentially an extension of document management that includes managing web content. Some vendors simply re-badged their products without actually adding any functionality, but the true vendors of content management have added valuable capabilities that continue the scope of document management, beyond the confines of one organisation.

An area of much discussion in the market currently is personalisation of content. The prolific use of the Internet and the growth of customer relationship management (CRM) have made it much easier for companies to offer a personal service to customers. Content management systems often incorporate personalisation capabilities although the degree of personalisation can vary greatly, from referring to every user by name to offering the same content to a specific group of users. The technology involved today makes it possible for organisations to replicate the dialogue that a local shop owner might have with its customers, even though they may have many millions. A content management system can also be used like a document management system for capture, distribution and retrieval of information. Enterprise Content Management is a new term that is applied to a system that includes both content and document management capabilities. Content management solutions collect data or information from all required sources, organise it for ease of retrieval and deliver it using a web-compliant system. This can either be over the Internet or Intranet.

A content management solution is commonly used to keep a website up-to-date; it is likely to include web-based publishing, format management, revision control, indexing, search, and retrieval. A content management solution captures paper, media, graphic images, email, voice, video etc, and although it is usually associated with managing for the web it can be extended to include any structured and unstructured content for any channel.

Another vital difference between document management and content management is the way in which documents are classified. Document management is concerned with the external classification of a document, the index fields and keywords used to refer to it. Content management however, is concerned with internal classification methods such as author, date and time of creation and context.

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