DMS is NOT file storage

DMS is NOT file storage.

It's important to realize that, as you start out working with cloud based systems that document management and file storage are quite different solutions.
File storage is all about providing an offsite, secure back up facility, Document Management is all about providing an ongoing linkage to organize and track your various documents.

Some of the real power you get from a document management system (or DMS) includes:
  • Version control, where an individual or multiple groups of people can add documents against a single, secure document handle.  
  • Common tags or categories to improve contextual information on a document (extended by P2B to include the ability to link items together - which allows a document to be linked to a business process, activity or other item of information)
  • Reminders related to the status of a document - so that important documents are not "lost from view" in the day to day "noise" of urgent matters
  • Ready and controlled access to information - so stakeholders can readily see, what they should see at any time they want (or need) to see it!
The graphic below shows this summarised into three key "ingredients" for successful document management - Control, Coordination and Consistency.

Overview of the key elements of document control
Overview of Achieving Document Control - 
Click on the Inputs for More Information

For example, some of our Solution Providers have worked with organisations that have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars over issuing the wrong version of a specification for an engineering task they were engaged in. This has occurred where multiple parties are working on one particular document and the final version issued slips through as the reviewer examined an earlier version of the document.  So the ability to check in and check out a document is quite powerful - and to send the document link (rather than a file itself) all helps to ensure that the work is sequential, rather than parallel (and wrong!).

Screen shot of a typical "checked out" document
Document Handle - Checked Out Status with Action Status on Right

This type of issue can also arise where groups working on tender responses.  These teams suffer significant delays when having to put a document back together after multiple parties worked on similar sections of the document. Version control and the ability check in and check out documents are probably amongst the most powerful features of document management solutions and a particular feature of the P2B DMS (document management system).  

Add this to the ability to connect and link the documents with other documents, logical items such as folders, locations or activities and you have a powerful means of finding, tracking and controlling your information. 

Another advantage of the P2B document management system is being able to generate saved searches which are useful connections of documents tat you can set, for example "show me the last fifty documents created or modified", "show me all documents related to this department's activities", "show me all documents of this particular category." The way in which you can use it is almost limitless, but it also allows users to share saved searches with other users in the organisation so that you can (at a high level) create a corporate dashboard with saved searches to logical groups of information and at a more person to person level, an individual can share their saved search with a number of their colleagues, and those colleagues can either access it in the applications or can put it as a widget on their dashboard. 

A document management system is the control, coordination and consistency of accessing documents and information across the suite of data held by an organisation.

Control - is all about having a known point of creation, review and disposal for your information. What this means is:
  • Having a role responsible for the document (or item of information)
  • Being able to track the creation, modification and access to the document
  • Assignment of authorities for the View, Creation, Modification and Deletion of documents.
Document in the DMS showing the permissions set for it modally displayed over the document meta tag information and the action tracking (on the right)
Inside the DMS - Setting Permissions for a document
with meta tag info and action status in background

Coordination - is all about managing the creation of and access to your information.  This is particularly important during creation of a document or key item of business information.  Managing who and how is also important when a business is being audited (or otherwise externally reviewed).  P2B supports this coordination by:
  • Providing an ability to map a work flow to a document - and attach track-able actions to this work-flow - you can see this in the action status pie chart on the image above - and also read more on creating and close out action here
  • Limiting and managing who has access to what information.  A sophisticated permission system is developed around roles within your business.  This is set up by default in the DMS Lite and DMS Plus products - and can be extensively customised in the DMS Ultimate product
  • Expiry dates for documents and other items in the system.  What this means is that documents which need to be reviewed and considered on a regular basis trigger an action to do so at least 1 week prior to the date of renewal.
Document in the DMS showing the permissions set for it modally displayed over the document meta tag information and the action tracking (on the right)
Inside the DMS - Setting Permissions for a 
Document (Administrator rights required)

Consistency - is achieved through the application of common naming, look ups and links.  All of the P2B products achieve this by:
  • Application of up to three unique document categories (which can be optionally used as part of the file name in DMS Ultimate)
  • Forcing (free option) the linking of every document to a logical item within the business framework (e.g. all documents to be linked to a form or Asset)
  • Providing default expiry dates (variably set from 6 months to 3 years) for documents, and>
  • Mandating ownership of documents and other business information - that can be readily found by people in roles that need to access this.
Typical lookup creation - where up to three different lookup categories can be created
Flexible Creation of Lookups - Administrators can 
Edit and Add Categories

So to summarise - some good points to remember:
  • File storage is just that, while
  • Document Management is storing files in a secure off site location with a very robust file system and back up strategy in place that makes your information easy to find and with an ongoing relevance.  
  • DMS = P2B!
To see more on how this approach can be applied - and how it impacts for the various P2B DMS products - why not follow the links below to the information and examples on our system.

Reap The Rewards