by May 1, 2005 0 comments

Use of electronic documents instead of paper for official communication is a growing trend these days. So a sales proposal is now sent over e-mail rather than by fax or courier, because fax doesn’t give the quality and courier takes more time to reach. Similarly, bills and invoices are raised through an ERP, billing or accounting system than on paper. Even the government acts as a catalyst here, through its various policies and services. The online tax filing service is one such example, using which the organizations can file their returns in electronic format.

This increase in the number of electronic documents brings along the headache of managing them. They have to be secure and tamper proof to prevent loss or misuse. They have to be stored such that they can be quickly retrieved. They have to be backed up as well. These are major challenges, considering the fact that electronic documents are scattered across so many different systems in the office, be it the mail server or file and print server, the business application server, or even the users’ desktops. In essence, documents must be managed right from their creation to their archival or eventual deletion. 

All this doesn’t mean the end of cellulose documents. Their usage is increasing, if anything. In a modern day organization, for example, users still need to take printouts or scan/fax many paper documents. A news agency or media house, for instance, gets huge volumes of news and press releases on paper. These need to be sorted out and converted into an electronic form for publication. An event management company needs to send hundreds or thousands of faxes worth of invitations for any event. A telecom company prints out bills for all its subscribers, and also retains their soft copies as records. Then, of course, there are all the government departments and public sector banks, which have many warehouses worth of old record files. Most of them use dedicated peons as their document managers! 

In all these cases, all that’s needed is a good document management and/or print-management solution. But hold on! Isn’t document management an age-old technology that costs a bomb to implement and maintain? Doesn’t it involve scanning and converting paper documents to digital format and storing them as digital images to a central storage, with some expensive software managing their indexing and searching? Similarly, isn’t print management all about managing your printers and the number of prints you can get from them?The answer to both is not a simple yes, but much more. Document management can be implemented not only for scanning and managing paper documents, but also for managing just the electronic documents, or for creating and printing electronic documents. It could also be used to create a complete workflow system for an organization. In essence, several different types of document-management systems can be implemented, which needn’t cost humongous amounts. 

Our story, therefore, takes a closer look at this expanded definition of document and print management, the implementation issues involved in each and the solutions available.

Anil Chopra, Ankit Kawatra, Geetaj Channana, Sujay V Sarma

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