The large scale adoption of IT and Information Systems over the last few decades has made the collection, transformation and management of information as a very important task for the IT manager. The importance of managed information has become greater than before. But, its sheer scale and complexity of this data that can drive any human soul towards the bounds of sanity.
A Delphi group research study found that 90% of typical office tasks still revolve around paper gathering and distribution, and that while 15% of all paper handled is lost, 30% of our time is used trying to find these lost documents. Companies on an average spend around $25,000 to fill in a typical four drawer file cabinet, $2,000 to maintain it each year, and over its life, a single piece of paper costs an average of $30.
No wonder that enterprise content management (which includes document management, web content management, document imaging, records management, digital asset management) has become a major software vertical and companies like SAP, IBM, Microsoft, Plumtree, Oracle, Adobe, etc are competing for the high stakes.
Predominantly, there are two ways to convert paper documents into digital files:
- Scanning the document for a bitmap rendition and saving as a digital file (ex: GIF, JPG, PDF, consolidated archive zip, rar, etc.).
- Capturing the document for content with an OCR software (ex. Adobe Capture). Here the text of a document would be “read” and converted into word processing text.
Typical systems have the user scan in the original paper document, and store the image of the document in the document management system. The image is often given a name containing the date and the user is often asked to type in additional “tags” in order to make finding the image easier. For instance, a user scanning in an invoice might want to tag it with “water_invoice_20051101”.
Once the document is stored, it is typically retrieved using an application that is aware of the way the tags and image are related. Thus, when you search for the “invoice”, opening the document will in fact open the original image.
I will present my case by taking an example from a production workflow which uses an integrated DMS for implementing a paperless production process.
HighChip Semiconductor runs an IC fabrication plant. The fabrication process involves wafer processing in different lot sizes and different specifications. Wafer processing in the plant is followed by cutting, assembly and packaging. The nature of the process leaves little margin for error and mandates strong production processes and controls.
The diagram shown below depicts the various components of the proposed integrated DMS system.
A. The paper components received by the delivery clerk are sent to the scanning services.
B. The digital documents are directly forwarded for processing to the DMS central server. The central server would use the services from the Image services subsystem for the processing of such documents (Refer E).
C. and D. The paper documents would be scanned to TIFF format by special industrial strength scanners and the TIFF files would be indexed and captured to the PDF format.
E. The Image services provide the functionality to convert all files into a common digital format (PDF in our case).
F. These PDF files would then be compiled, organised and linked as per the business requirements. The graphical services subsystem also manages the archiving and retrieval of documents.
G. The DMS web server publishes the archived documents. The DMS web server is the front end of the HighChip DMS. It is responsible for publishing digital documents received from the DMS central server and the repository server as well as providing the administration interface to the HighChip DMS.
H. The printing services provide volume printing and outbound delivery services to the DMS system. Hence, a choice of cross platform delivery types (hardcopy, digital and internet distribution) are provided by the document management system.
The integrated DMS enables HighChip to achieve the following benefits
- Manage and distribute all production related documentation.
- Increase product visibility, standardise processes and increase information accuracy. A huge cost advantage is expected as a result of this exercise.
- Share vendor and customer contacts across various functions
- Track quality initiatives, ensure proper approvals and capture standard processes.
- Easily locate and share engineering content with partners and project teams.
- Reduce time and resources required to get content on to the web.
In the second weblog in this series we would evaluate the DMS provided by SAP R/3 enterprise in the context of the current cenario and see how we can use the DMS and ECM(engineering change management) features in the most beneficial and productive fashion.