Document Management Software

Written by Patricia Skinner
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More than one team member working on a given document is not a new scenario. It has long been a difficult aspect of any commercial or academic enterprise. There are ways of making the process easier, faster and a lot more productive though. Document management software can assist in any scenario, whether there is only one principal document creator, or whether a document is the result of collaboration between a vast number of colleagues.

Many different issues can be addressed with the right software package. For most purposes, for example, it is desirable that all changes to a document can be dated and identified so that it is known who made those particular changes. There are obvious advantages to such features, but the less obvious include the fact that if you ever need to revert to a previous version of a document, it will be a fairly straightforward procedure as you can easily identify changes that have been made.

Facilitating Collaboration

Good document management software for your company may include some sort of interaction feature for group communication. This may consist of forum management facilities or chat, for example, so that collaborators can discuss the document without resorting to any external software. Provisions for asynchronous communication might be email or a forum, whereas real time discussion will need a chat facility.

Since many different documents may be stored in a document management system, some sort of indexing and filing facility will be needed. Archiving should be possible. It will be necessary for an administrator, or group of administrators, to be appointed so that arrangements can be made periodically for deciding whether any documents need to be taken out of the system or updated. Bear in mind that what may be considered outdated and of no further use to one person, may be the exact required information to others in an organization.

Security is also usually a major concern in document management. Often the information being dealt with is sensitive to some degree or another, and the integrity of the company's intellectual property must be safeguarded. To an extent, password access addresses a lot of those concerns, but it is important that the entire computer system is protected by up-to-date antivirus software to guard against other hazards like viruses, keyloggers, and hackers. For example, even if a document has been accessed legitimately with an authorized collaborator using a keyword, if there is a piece of spyware that contains a keylogger on his or her computer, it can record every keystroke the person makes while working on the document, and this can reveal a lot of information. Unfortunately, awareness of this kind of danger is, as yet, practically non-existent in the business world. Relying on password protection is not a comprehensive answer to security issues, although it is obviously essential to prevent unauthorized access to a system.

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