For many years, the component technologies of an EDMS were marketed individually. Building an EDMS generally required purchasing and integrating solutions from a number of vendors. Many organizations were hesitant to make the investment required to put in a comprehensive solution.
Regulatory changes forced many organizations to rethink how they would manage records and have forced deployment of EDMS technology. HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley added significant new requirements and substantially increased penalties for non-compliance. At the same time, organizations began to realize that their costs of managing information were increasing at an alarming rate. Even worse, considerable investment was being made to create information that was inaccessible due to storage and identification practices.
The individual technologies used in an EDMS are much more powerful and provide greater benefits when they are deployed together. The capabilities of one technology are enhanced by combining it with another. Implementing a combined set of technologies significantly improves the opportunities to automate activities and increase efficiency.
One example of this interaction is the capture, processing and routing of paper forms. In traditional imaging systems, the document was imaged after processing. As additional technologies are added, imaging of the form can take place when the form is received. The data from the image can be automatically captured using forms processing. The data can update the business application, provide index values for storage of the image in the document management repository and initiate a work object in the workflow system.
A second example offers similar processing advantages. An ERM system captures a report from a business application and stores it in the document management repository. During the capture process, the report is parsed into documents to be sent out to businesses where they will be completed and returned. When the report is printed, a corresponding work object is created. The work object is in a wait condition looking for return of the document. If the document does not return, the workflow system automatically calls for a follow-up reminder from the business application and the ERM system repeats the process. If the document is returned, the document is imaged and processed by the forms processing system. The original work object can be automatically discarded or released to continue to the next step of the business process.
In both of these examples, the individual technologies would have been of limited benefit without the ability to work with the others. It is when they work together that the real power of an EDMS can be realized.