Use Case: Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems, or probably a better description, Systems of Record have a long heritage of providing niche functionality that allows organizations to effective access via search, securely retain and destroy with retention schedules and enforce business policy with governance rules. Your organization desires to utilize all the benefits of the System of Record, yet you also want to encourage collaboration among your users because you know there are many business processes that involve sharing of information on a particular piece of content before it needs to officially enter the ECM as a “record”. The best solution to offer both a solid ECM solution as well as a highly collaborative environment is to use Box outside of your corporate firewall to enable users to efficiently share information, then once the content needs to enter the ECM you can either have the ECM system monitor a watched folder and bring it in, or you can have your users declare a record and push it immediately into the SOR.
Solution Description: You have done your due diligence and over the years have tuned your ECM system into a well-oiled records management machine. While this system is operating nicely you find that there is a lot of content that is changing often, especially early in its lifecycle, and does not necessarily need to enter your System of Record until it goes through these initial rounds of changes. Therefore, you will setup a solution where a highly collaborative environment outside of your corporate firewall using Box is established. Then you will do one of two relatively simple integration methods to allow content from Box to easily flow into your ECM system. You will allow the users themselves to declare a record and send the content immediately from Box into your ECM or, as a good technical architecture rule in general, you will have your ECM automatically reach-out and look into Box to review the status documents and retrieve any that may have inadvertently not been declared that should have been.
Note: This is a conceptual solution and will require some level of integration work, although could be minimal to achieve the end result.
- Box account
- ABBYY OCRSDK.com or ABBYY FineReaderOnline.com service account
- System of Record/ECM system
Steps/Architecture (Complexity = Moderate to Involved):
- Create a general collaboration shared work area, or areas, in Box
- Then create sub-folders to mimic your existing organizational infrastructure such as Accounting, Marketing, Sales, etc. and use Box folder permissions to invite collaborators for each folder
- These first two steps are to create areas for collaborative work. Now you want to create an Upload folder for finished work to be sent to your System of Record
- As users complete collaboration on a particular piece of content they would simply use an integrated ‘Upload to ECM’ button within their application to upload the document
- At this point, depending on how the solution is integrated, the solution can do one of many things utilizing ABBYY hosted services. Often there are two options:
- Unattended, where once the user presses the button then the content is processed is converted and stored with no further user interaction
- Interactive, where the content is processed and information is extracted yet you would want to have the user verify the accuracy of the data captured
- For the conversion process itself, and in particular for Systems of Records integration, a popular method of conversion is Image and a corresponding XML file with the extracted index fields
- Now, again depending on the method of integration, there are typically two scenarios that can deliver the images and extracted results to your System of Record
- Push: Push, as the term would indicate, means that there has been an integrated procedure within Box where once files are sent to the Upload folder then they are immediately sent
- Polling: Polling means that the System of Record is actually checking the Box Upload folder at some interval to see if there are new files to import. Each method has its pro’s and con’s, it just really depends on an organizations specific requirements
User operation (Complexity = Easy):
- Since the logic of the document workflow, as well as, the technical integration to get content moved between various folders will have been done by a systems integrator/software developer, the user operation is as simple as pressing a button
- It is important to note that while this solution is extremely easy from a user operation standpoint, one of the most important things to consider is operator training on how to utilize the system most effectively. Especially as the number of users, departments and processes increase this creates not only great opportunity for highly efficient collaboration, it could also introduce a level of confusion that you would like to avoid
Associated screen prints on this solution:
1. Box general collaboration area
2. Box sub-folders and access permissions
3. UPLOAD folder
4. Integrated ‘Upload to ECM’ button
5. Technical workflow transparent to the user
6. Data quality verification
7. XML file output results
8. Push and Polling transfer methods
9. Simple user experience with one button operation
We’d like to hear from you on this innovative idea. Does our suggestion of incorporating the best qualities of traditional systems with the best qualities of ‘disrupted’ systems appeal to you? Can you think of other mashup concepts? We would appreciate your feedback.