Controlling corporate collateral

By James R. Borck, IDG News Service |  Software

Regardless of how your company's meta data is compiled, system administrators must develop input templates. These templates are used to encapsulate associated meta data and permissions whenever a user posts a new document to the CM system.

Younger versions of many CM packages required a labor-intensive process of hand-tooling template design. Current releases offer newer, wizard-driven development tools that help alleviate this administrative task and reduce development costs.

When the document management portion is completed, your CM system will deposit new and existing content, data sources, and e-commerce applications in a uniform repository. The benefits will include speedier searches and more efficient access to your company's resources.

The workflow layer

Once your company's content has been placed under the control of the CM system, the next step is to define workflow. Workflow is a primary benefit of CM systems over traditional document management and provides a significant shift in how your employees interface with your systems.

Whether initiated by a user or triggered by a predetermined event, workflow mechanisms ensure that content is properly reviewed and approved before seeing the light of day. It dictates and facilitates how content within your company is acted on and routed, both internally and externally.

A document can be assigned a predetermined routing structure. For example, your analysts may develop information for your Web site. Documents that require approval prior to posting are routed to a supervisor. Once approved, the document is routed to an editor responsible for managing Web site content or perhaps to your company's legal department for review before being posted.

Building the rules for workflow into your CM system requires a solid understanding of the existing processes within your organization. Expect to spend a considerable amount of time on proper development.

The process also demands a substantial learning curve for users as they learn a new method of contributing content. Although it represents an extra step in your employees' workload, a CM system will ensure accuracy and timeliness, inspire efficiency, and offer benefits such as audit history and status of a document at a glance.

To ensure the appropriateness of routing procedures, CM also requires establishing role-based permissions. Permissions provide an extremely important level of security by assigning privileges to users, allowing them to author, edit, and administer documents within the system as appropriate.

Without permission protocols, loose or poorly thought-out rules could allow data to be compromised. The domino effect becomes more of a snowball effect as the updated document not only corrupts the immediate data store, but is pushed out, compromised, to customers and partners in a high-speed, automated fashion.

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