One of the strengths of OpenText™ ApplicationXtender is that it offers multiple ways of ingesting information. The capture types range from form-based input, drag-and-drop, to scanning of physical documents. This includes products from the larger OpenText portfolio of capture tools-with more to come in future releases.
Getting all valuable content into the ECM
You are probably saying “Chris, getting documents into your ECM is a table stake; of course it can capture documents!” – and of course you are right, but historically some analysts have been focused on “drag and drop” tools and native save options. This has lead to the assumption that these are the features that organizations should be using to solve their Enterprise Content Management issues. While these tools bring value to the C-suite and business analysts……but typically actual users find limited value in these tools since they are usually dealing with emailed PDFs, spreadsheets, and scanned documents.
For the core ECM users (i.e. the ones that create business-wide value) you need:
- Easy integration of existing physical world infrastructure. There should be a way to directly scan into the ECM from scanners and multifunction printers (MFP’s).
- Metadata information should be easy to add to these documents based on either text in the scanned document or a wizard that the user opens when they return to their desk from the MFP.
Do not underestimate the value of having multiple ways to ingest content. This is the key to tagging and automating document driven processes- even if it is as simple as a the ECM being able to read the user name from a networked scanner.
Integrated capture is the secret sauce of transition from paper to digital business
As an analyst and consultant, I have worked with, modified, built workarounds and made square pegs fit into round pegs with a variety of ECM products and my experience with ApplicationXtender has been straightforward, and more importantly for mid-sized organizations, easy to maintain.
Why is capture so important?
Separating the wheat from the chaff is a key element of deriving value from your ECM. It can also be difficult and only be done by understanding what users need, who can access what content, and when does a piece of content move from asset to risk? Being able to differentiate risk from value and garbage from gold is about storing content in the right bucket in your ECM (read this blog for a more in-depth discussion). However, it is almost impossible to have users organize content once it is in the system.
For mid-sized organizations this is inherently difficult based on the multiple hats employees have to wear. Organizing documents based on how they will be used provides an easy organization principle that is key for long-term value.
Understanding internal processes – building a UX that enables everyday users
I find that the easiest way to organize documents for value is by the processes that they are born of – remember we are starting from a value-based EIM strategy. Once you have the strategy, the user experience planning comes down to a single word: GROW. Grow is an acronym for the four key questions that need to be answered in order to build out successful organizing principles; metadata libraries for characterization at capture and workflows to notify users of the existence of the content.
- Generate – how do users generate content, what are the filetypes, what are the key types of capture points?
- Record – where is the information from that content being recorded? Documents, applications?
- Organize – what is the purpose of the content? Is the information being shared? Is it for revenue generation? Does it need to be moved to other people?
- When will the information source be used again? What do users really need, what can you provide them securely?
The content lifecycle – a model for defining how information is used and valued
I have found from my time managing ECM implementations and upgrades, that a strategy that focuses on information flow, and spreads across the business providing the necessary knowledge for stakeholders across departments works best.
This means that the optimum mid-market ECM product should include two elements that support the key strategy principals; capture of content from both the physical and digital world, external content to support the overall EIM strategy and an integrated document workflow so captured content goes to the correct user so they can make use of that information to support a process-focused user experience strategy.
“Moving” captured content to users via integrated workflow
This is more difficult of the two elements as it is not only based on the feature set, but also on the implementation of the ECM system.
From a feature perspective, you want an integrated workflow engine that has:
- Drag and drop capabilities for building the process
- Out-of-the-box tools for extracting and manipulating the information content
- The ability to be modified without ruining “in-flight”
The workflow manager is an undervalued module for ApplicationXtender. It delivers all of the above in a straightforward manner simple enough that trained users can be the process builders and owners.
The integrated capture tools and the integrated workflow that you get in ApplicationXtender is a reason why I believe it should be part of product evaluations for any mid-sized organization when re-evaluating their information management strategy or as part of their digitization strategy.