So recently we have embarked on an ECM adventure. For those of you who aren’t in the know ECM stands for Enterprise Content Management.
At first blush it seems a lot of people assume that ECM is an ‘imaging’ or a ‘document scanning project’ I ranted about this particular viewpoint in
this blog post here. After a lot of discussion one of our Mantras has become ‘Data is Key’ or put another way, only scan something as the last resort, if there is no other way.
As an example, let’s say a vendor is sending you an invoice. Old school is they send you the bill in the mail, slightly better is they fax it to you, even better they email it to you.
And then at the top of the Heirarchy is they send it to you electronicaly using something like EDI. (Full disclourse, I handle EDI at my current place of employment so no bias there I can assure you!) But why is this the case? Because sending it electronically removes the manual data entry, and chance of human error, and greatly improves the speed of the transaction.
Some vendors are just too small, or don’t have the technical know how to implement EDI. So in those cases you still are going to recieve some paper of some sort. Once again back to the mantra of ‘Only scan as a last resort’. In reality we probably first should have investigated getting our vendors to use a service such as transcepta. What this service does is accept any sort of invoice whether they send a PDF to transcepta or print an invoice to them using a ‘Virtual printer’ or at the lowest part of the pyramid they have a web portal
that a vendor can input their invoice on. I haven’t been on the recieving end of transcepta but I do submit EDI invoices through them and they were very easy to work with!
Anyways, that solution would probably have required a greater amount of change then we could take at this moment. Although on other fronts we are using Taleo now for our front end for hiring, aiming to element those paper forms (once again capture the data, and not the image if you possibly can). I was glad we got that moving before our ECM initiative rolled out
because I didn’t want to be scanning those worthless pieces of paper if we could capture the data a different way. We also recently started using PowerTrack, another way of consolidating and eliminating manual labour and paper forms.
So, assuming you actually have to scan something. What sort of ECM system should you use? We tried to do our research and get a solution that would work well for us.
We looked at Alfresco and its flat rate and easy to understand licensing was very appealing. Sharepoint was another interesting one, although of course the licensing is
impossible to understand. Finally after many demos and much deliberation we went with a local vendor called imagesource.
The three products that we got complement each other nicely. The first, and probably most polished, is a product called ILINX Capture. This is a web based capture\workflow product
that imagesource got up and running for us amazingly quick! On the backend it has a really impressive graphical workflow creator.
In some ways it reminds me of another one of my favorite products Altova Mapforce. I’ve already suggested a few ideas ‘borrowed’ from Mapforce that I think imagesource could adopt in their product. Another interesting thing the Capture product has is the ability to create QSX modules. Basically, add your own processing elements to the visual workflow. I hear they have a class for this, I would be interested in learning more about it. One typical module they have is the barcode separator module. This post is an interesting explanation
Actually, imageSource has quite a few really nice blogs scattered around.
Once our docs make it out of capture they move into ILINX Content Store, a lean, mean content store machine. This is a pretty new product of imagesource so we are getting to watch
it grow as we are starting to use it. It has some limitations at the moment but we like the direction and how fast things are getting done with it!
I will need to post some screen shots and more explanations. But finally, imageSource has a product called integrate that you can use to connect pretty much any system to any system.
So thats the line up folks, I will let you know how it goes!