When you think about a document or content management system, you probably imagine an application that tracks, manages, and stores documents. But managing documents is not important to most of us.
Most of us focus on closing a deal faster, bringing a product to market quickly, or shortening the cycle time to get paid. These are business outcomes. Effectively sharing and managing documents can help meet these outcomes since everyone stores a lot of business information there.
A lot of content management systems make it difficult to share information since it’s hard to find what you need. Not all content is available and there are many duplicate copies of the same content. When you edit or update content outside of the system, you often forget to upload it back, leading to a significant amount of missing content on the system over time.
Collaboration becomes even harder when lots of people have local copies of files. This is especially true in today’s hybrid workplace. Many users tend to replicate content for their own use. This leads to a proliferation of redundant content that makes it difficult for other users to find the latest version, particularly when it is spread across multiple devices, locations, and users.
So, what might an Intelligent Content Management solution look like to address these concerns? A good start is one that combines content-centric collaboration, secure control of sensitive data, and an efficient way to guarantee you always have the latest document.
Here are some key features to look for:
• Content virtualization – reduce redundant content by virtualizing it, treating duplicates as a single group or file. With virtualized content, you don’t need to worry about scattered copies of content across different users, devices, and locations. All copies are linked together as identical versions, ensuring you can access the same information from any device or location.
• Content-centric management – documents should have a unique ID to identify them and a version number so users don’t work on the wrong document while reviewing or sharing with others.
• Instant Version Control, Backup, and Restore – one of the critical challenges is the inability to do version control “on the spot” for individual files. That’s because we tie the version control process to repositories. You have to sync or upload to a location to see the next version. A better approach is to automatically sync versions when you close a document. This is more flexible since location becomes irrelevant.
• On-demand Sync and Share – when users download files from repositories, they must be certain they have the latest version. As soon as someone updates a document, all users sharing it should have immediate access to the current version. It’s also important to notify all users of changes and allow them to view changes immediately in their local copy or in a browser.
• User comments – as users revise or review documents, it’s helpful to add comments so others know what’s going on. This improves collaboration since you can see all the comments in a timeline of the document, rather than having to read an instant message chain or find an email with comments. Whether these comments are about the history of changes, why changes were made or simple notes for collaboration, this type of feature provides means to a workflow decision process in the document history.
• Usage Analytics – checking on real-time user status and file activity makes collaboration easier. Seeing who viewed a file, when someone made edits, and who hasn’t reviewed the document yet, makes it easier to do your work. And seeing a graphical map showing all actions gives you quick incite.
• Access Control, Security, and Audit Trail – control and audit wherever the document has traveled is another important feature. File owners can secure and control the definition and assignment of user permissions with revision access, view-only access, or no access at all. If desired, an Intelligent Content Management solution should also provide file-in-use security incorporating digital rights management (DRM) for enhanced security.
• Content-Centric Communications – rather than starting another communication tool to chat about a document, a better approach is to have a chat room immediately available as soon as you create content. This makes it easy to discuss details about your document and preserves all history of communications throughout the content’s lifecycle.
• Minimize Ransomware Risk – when users create or save documents, a solution should back them up automatically, without duplication, and allow users to restore them instantly. This allows you to minimize risks from ransomware since you can always restore the latest copy. By encrypting the documents, you don’t have to worry that someone can leak them if you don’t pay the ransom.
Don’t rely on separate systems for managing documents. An Intelligent Document Management system combines file-centric collaboration, digital asset management, and security together to bind documents with metadata – all the time and anywhere – to meet the demanding needs of today’s organizations.