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Document Archiving Systems Must Start With a Look at User Requirements

May 25th, 2012

In the age of paper documents, archives typically meant physical repositories of historical documents. Documents that were no longer needed for current operations were transferred to a secure storage facility to which only a few people had access. Active documents were stored in Filing Cabinets in a room adjacent to the office for easy access.

With the appearance of computer document storage, it’s doubtful whether archiving a document makes it a purely historical document. Computer media can store vast volumes of documents and make them extensively searchable. Historical documents can then be used for daily operations, such as when a marketing manager studies the lifecycle behavior of products.

Computer-based document archiving also opens up many possibilities that were simply unattainable in the paper based era. Document archiving systems now have to meet varied requirements, instead of just the company historian’s.

What Information Will Users Look for?

Historians might be interested in what happened on particular dates and during particular periods. A comparatively simple system of cataloging and indexing (which were highly labor-intensive and painstaking exercises in the paper era) to meet historical research requirements might have sufficed then.

Today’s decision-support information search requires far more elaborate indexing that can accommodate flexible search capabilities. Additionally, if the document archiving system can generate certain types of commonly requested reports (a comparatively simple task using today’s computer databases) the value added will be great. For example, a possible request might be for sales trends of different products, current and obsolete.

To meet such requirements, the IT person developing the document archiving system must interact with users of the system. Technical issues must support user requirements, instead of being the primary system driver. Different categories of users, and the typical requirements of each category, must be identified.

Who Will Access the Documents and What Security Procedures Must Be Built-in?

In these days of SCM (supply chain management) and CRM (customer relationship management), with systems of different organizations integrated to some extent, even external users might access a company’s documents. In such a context, it becomes extremely important to ensure that users are able to see only what they’re authorized to see. The system of permissions and passwords to access documents must be robust and tailored to the new environment.

Here again, the archiving-system designer has to interact with users and identify the specific requirements before starting the development exercise. Archiving systems become business applications instead of just archiving systems.

Looking at Technological Developments

Information technology is developing fast, and if the document archiving system designer can implement a system that consist of small modules, which can be modified easily, the life of the system can be extended significantly.

This should be the main technological focus of today’s application designers. Such an elaborately modular design can also make routine maintenance and troubleshooting more efficient and fruitful.

Today’s document archiving systems are thus applications, distinct from transaction-processing applications in that they’re designed for querying and analysis instead of processing transactions.

Manuel J. Montesino
http://www.articlesbase.com/software-articles/document-archiving-systems-must-start-with-a-look-at-user-requirements-672800.html

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