Advanced Document Manipulation – A Must Have For TCM

In the never-ending paper chase called electronic Transactional Content Management (TCM), we often overlook an essential ingredient – the ability to view committed images faster and use that content in dynamic ways. This article will focus on the role AJAX viewers play in providing Advanced Document Manipulation capabilities.

Simon Wieczner, Snowbound Software

November 6, 2009

As much as everyone recognizes document viewers have a role in the Transactional Content Management process, historically few people realize how some methods of viewing and manipulating documents and images are more effective and efficient than others. In the past, pushing paper around overshadowed any other process so that improvements in anything but speeding the physical movement of paper made little sense.

However as greater and greater numbers of electronic documents are stored and processed without ever becoming paper, new solutions have and are being developed based on assimilating these changes into ever more creative and cost-effective workflow processes. In particular, by developing the automatic processing and routing of documents, a huge variety of advanced solutions become available to the organization with regards to document processing or TCM.

These advanced solutions can provide multiple benefits including speed of processing, enhanced security of documents and the decentralization of transactional content handling. Improving processing speed by itself translates directly to greater sales for revenue generating processes while the achievement of higher personnel efficiency through faster processing benefits everyone. In a variety of industries, from bank transactions to insurance claim forms to loan and mortgage processing, the faster you can do it, the less it costs, and the greater customer satisfaction you achieve.

Given there are many accomplished ECM system vendors today including the likes of IBM, IBM/Filenet, EMC/Documentum, OpenText, eCopy and Onbase, why aren’t their offerings alone adequate? Oddly enough, it’s because most of the ECM systems offering TCM tools don’t really address efficiency for transactional content. They give you great storage, integration to other products, tools to extract and control your documents but leave out much of the capability for truly working with documents in a workflow process. The most common answers we’ve heard to how do I work with my stored documents are “use the native viewers on your client systems” or “we provide a TIFF viewer that should handle your needs”. Alternatively if those methods don’t satisfy, the advise will be “you can get the solution from a third party”.

Indeed, third party solutions are really the most viable methods. When you’re immersed in the 8 hour per day, 5 days a week TCM progress, you quickly realize that using multiple native viewers (if you have many document types) is a great burden – because you need to install all these viewers on all your client stations. And then what workflow process can you create that will work to pull down the necessary documents (or more importantly, the necessary pages of those documents). And if you want to truly make things efficient by creating a virtual document that contains all the necessary pages of multiple documents needed in the review process without forcing the operators to search for those pages, where do you go?

The most sophisticated companies have already created these kind of processes, allowing them to beat their competition in speed and efficiency and cost. Their reviewers sit down in the morning at their desk and their task list is immediately displayed on their computer screen. They select the first task and automatically, all the necessary documents are securely streamed to their desktop, wherever in the world they might be. For example, they receive pages 1 and 5 of document One, page 4, 6 and 20 of document Two, and pages 105-110 of document Three and only those pages. Certain regions on those pages where critical information like name, id number and value reside are highlighted so they can be immediately reviewed. A dynamic rubber stamp with a serial ID number for the claim is automatically placed on the pages reviewed. The operator simply needs to extract or approve the necessary information, stamp the document as processed and send it back to the repository for the next step of the workflow process. Some products even allow the operator to create a new document from the virtual document or selected other documents so the following reviewer can be more efficient.

To meet the many confidentiality regulations that most organizations need to abide by today, other regions of these pages where sensitive information is to be withheld from the operator are securely redacted. Printing and saving these pages on the local system are disabled to enhance security. These pages aren’t even stored in a temporary directory on the client system.

Processes like these can be set up to have operators work from an office, from their home or from a half a world away. The reviewing application (not just a viewer) can be tailored by language to address a multi-national workforce and by security level to suit operators versus supervisors versus senior officers.

These features exist today in some leading edge products though most commonly in thick clients. However the market also wants a simpler solution that can be deployed without installation or training requirements to customers and casual users. The direction today is to offer such capabilities in thin clients or zero footprint, AJAX clients. Then even greater efficiencies can be realized. With thin clients or zero footprint viewers, installation and updates and even configuration changes are automatic and invisible to the user. Not only can their task list be tailored daily but so can the viewer itself. Each time they get connected to their system, the latest viewer with enhancements is downloaded with no IT installation required.

Advanced document manipulation is a major breakthrough for speeding processing, lowering cost and increasing security. What’s not to like? Now go out there and choose what works best for you - AJAX Zero Footprint, thin client, thick client or no client. But take a close look at all the choices. There is no need to be wedded to the old methods. 

As originally published in ECM Connection, reprinted with permission.