Document Management - Its About the Process

Scott Cleveland's picture

Document management solutions span from protected/shared directories to full enterprise solutions like Documentum, FileNet, etc.

I worked for one of the early document management companies some time ago. The president always used to tout that we would get the ‘right’ information to the ‘right’ person at the ‘right’ time.  I have decided that he was ahead of his time.
Let’s examine what he meant…
You could just go to a protected/shared directory and pull out a document. However, before you can use that document, you must be sure that it is the ‘latest’ version of that document. If you should use an old document that has since been revised, you may make a costly error. So back to the protected/shared directory – how do you know you have the right document? Even with something like SharePoint, how do you know?
My Thoughts…
The lifecycle of a document includes creation, storage, changes, storage, changes, etc., storage and at some point in the future ‘end of life’. All documents go through some kind of lifecycle. That lifecycle is a Process.
The document is all about the process. I must know where this document resides within its lifecycle. Unless I am changing the document, I really want the ‘latest’ version of the document – the one that everyone has approved. It minimizes my risk [my risk of making an error, a potentially expensive error]. 
If the document is a legal contract, you could legally obligate your company for something that could cause great legal difficulty in the future.
If the document includes a parts list that is in error, you could create an expensive mistake on the factory floor.
If the document is a data sheet, you could make a promise that your company could not keep. And, that could throw your company into a court battle.
I think you get the point. It is not about the document, it is whether the document is the ’right’ document. It is about the document within its lifecycle process. 
And yes, it is about getting the ‘right’ document to the ‘right’ person at the ‘right’ time. 
Your Processes can be your competitive advantage…