The term "document management" and "paperless office" is the subject of countless articles and books. Everyone wants to achieve this lofty goal but not everyone understands what the terms really mean. Before you can embark on the journey of achieving total document management, it's important that you have a good basic knowledge of the terms and concepts that go with it.
Once you start investigating the various software solutions that are available you're going to run into some document management abbreviations, acronyms, and general terms that you might not be familiar with. Here is a "cheat sheet" that will help you to understand the material that you'll encounter as well as the conversations that you'll be having with document management solution providers.
Electronic Document Capture (EDC)
This is the generic term that refers to the entire process of converting paper documents into their electronic equivalents. It covers concepts such as scanning, text recognition, image conversion and indexing for later retrieval. In other words, it is a catchall phrase for the entire document management process.
Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
OCR is a process that recognizes the printed words that are present on a physical document. OCR is generally used when processing documents that are printed in "normal" printer or typewriter fonts.
Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR)
This process is similar to OCR but is generally capable of also processing certain handwritten documents on special forms. It can also recognize and process "tick marks" and bar codes.
Electronic Document Management System (EDMS)
Sometimes referred to as Document Management (DM) or Document Management System (DMS), this term encompasses not just the electronic conversion of paper documents, but the management of electronically created documents including word processing and email. EDMS systems are used to locate and display documents as well as to maintain different versions of the source document.
Electronic Record Management System (ERMS)
Also known as Record Management (RM) or Record management System (RMS), this term refers to systems that are used to insure that important records such as payroll, human resources, patient records, contracts, etc, are stored and available during their useful lifetime.
Web Content Management (WCM)
Also called a Content Management Systems (CMS), this term refers to software that is used to store and publish content to a web site. A CMS separates the web content from the underlying HTML design so that any authorized person can publish or remove content from a web site without having to know HTML.
Workflow Management (WFM)
WFM systems are used to management document preparation in a structured environment where certain preparation, review, or approval steps have to be done in a defined order. WFM systems direct the documents to the correct people, in the correct order, until the entire process has been completed.
Knowledge Management (KM)
These systems are used to make the total legacy "knowledge" of an organization available to everyone. KM systems eliminate the need for employees to "reinvent the wheel" when dealing with questions, processes, or any other issue that has already been dealt with by someone in the organization. A Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) system is a good example of a valuable KM system.
Now that you have an understanding of the basic terms that you will encounter, your next step is to determine the type of document management system that best meets your requirements. After that you can begin the process of identifying the available solutions and pick the one that meets your organization's needs.
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