Controlling corporate collateral

By James R. Borck, IDG News Service |  Software

Although the content management market space has matured considerably, many products remain better suited to either Web content management or business-to-business supply-chain implementations. So when reviewing prospects, shop carefully.

If you want to include your CRM (customer relationship management) call centers or ERP (enterprise resource planning) system, make certain your CM vendor's offering is up to the task. The more advanced packages save development time by including integration and development tools that can help tie your CM system to external applications.

If you're looking to integrate a CM solution with a specific application server, you should be certain your vendor offers native support and ensures scalability among platforms. Dynamic data delivery on this scale is extremely resource-intensive.

It is also usually wisest to ensure flexibility by choosing a CM system that can adroitly tackle both unstructured sources, such as Word documents, as well as structured sources, such as databases.

Other data sources include legacy systems and file systems as well as third-party data streams. A good CM solution should offer filters for specific document types, such as Quark publishing files, or input devices relevant to your needs.

When shopping for a CM vendor, you should find that most of the currently available solutions have three things in common: document management, workflow enhancement, and a diversity of presentation that allows fast lookup, transformation, and delivery of data.

The document layer

After settling on a CM application, you'll need to import and classify your existing data resources.

Using meta data, which are descriptive details that categorize the content of a document or data source, corporate collateral can be labeled and tracked with a uniform, structured framework. Ensuring the proper classification of information resources allows users to recall that data faster and to repurpose it to meet their new objectives.

In many cases, details about the documents, such as title, summary, publication and expiration dates, permissions, and priority figure into meta data classifications. For your business, this step may also require building custom document classification types that are specific to your industry or to departments within your business organization.

If your company has departments with vast amounts of content waiting in the wings, you should consider investing in a vendor, such as Documentum, whose system can automatically generate meta data classifications. This feature will not only save you a bundle in money and time, it will also reduce the risk of human error inevitably introduced by manual data entry.

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