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Document Management System

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A Document Management System (DMS) is a computer system (or set of computer programs) used to track and store electronic documents and/or images of paper documents. The term has some overlap with the concepts of Content Management Systems and is often viewed as a component of Enterprise Content Management Systems and related to Digital Asset Management, Document imaging, Workflow systems and Records Management systems.

Document management should be divided into two streams, based on the material being managed. Beginning in the 1980s, a number of vendors began developing systems to manage paper-based documents. These systems managed paper documents, which included not only printed and published documents, but also photos, prints, etc.

Later, a second system was developed, to manage electronic documents, i.e., all those documents, or files, created on computers, and often stored on local user file systems. The earliest electronic document management (EDM) systems were either developed to manage proprietary file types, or a limited number of file formats. Many of these systems were later referred to as document imaging systems, because the main capabilities were capture, storage, indexing and retrieval of image file formats. These systems enabled an organization to capture faxes and forms, save copies of the documents as images, and store the image files in the repository for security and quick retrieval (retrieval was possible because the system handled the extraction of the text from the document as it was captured, and the text indexer provided text retrieval capabilities.

EDM systems evolved to where the system was able to manage any type of file format that could be stored on the network. The applications grew to encompass electronic documents, collaboration tools, security, and auditing capabilities.

Components
Document management systems commonly provide storage, versioning, metadata, security, as well as indexing and retrieval capabilities. Here is a description of these components:

Metadata
Metadata is typically stored for each document. Metadata may, for example, include the date the document was stored and the identity of the user storing it. The DMS may also extract metadata from the document automatically or prompt the user to add metadata. Some systems also use optical character recognition on scanned images, or perform text extraction on electronic documents. The resulting extracted text can be used to assist users in locating documents by identifying probable keywords or providing for full text search capability, or can be used on its own. Extracted text can also be stored as a component of metadata, stored with the image, or separately as a source for searching document collections.

Integration
Many document management systems attempt to integrate document management directly into other applications, so that users may retrieve existing documents directly from the document management system repository, make changes, and save the changed document back to the repository as a new version, all without leaving the application. Such integration is commonly available for office suites and e-mail or collaboration/groupware software. Integration often uses open standards such as ODMA, LDAP, WebDAV and SOAP to allow integration with other software and compliance with internal controls.[citation needed]

Capture
Images of paper documents using scanners or multifunction printers. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software is often used, whether integrated into the hardware or as stand-alone software, in order to convert digital images into machine readable text.

Indexing
Track electronic documents. Indexing may be as simple as keeping track of unique document identifiers; but often it takes a more complex form, providing classification through the documents' metadata or even through word indexes extracted from the documents' contents. Indexing exists mainly to support retrieval. One area of critical importance for rapid retrieval is the creation of an index topology.

Storage
Store electronic documents. Storage of the documents often includes management of those same documents; where they are stored, for how long, migration of the documents from one storage media to another (Hierarchical storage management) and eventual document destruction.

Retrieval
Retrieve the electronic documents from the storage. Although the notion of retrieving a particular document is simple, retrieval in the electronic context can be quite complex and powerful. Simple retrieval of individual documents can be supported by allowing the user to specify the unique document identifier, and having the system use the basic index (or a non-indexed query on its data store) to retrieve the document. More flexible retrieval allows the user to specify partial search terms involving the document identifier and/or parts of the expected metadata. This would typically return a list of documents which match the user's search terms. Some systems provide the capability to specify a Boolean expression containing multiple keywords or example phrases expected to exist within the documents' contents. The retrieval for this kind of query may be supported by previously-built indexes, or may perform more time-consuming searches through the documents' contents to return a list of the potentially relevant documents. See also Document retrieval.

Distribution Security
Document security is vital in many document management applications. Compliance requirements for certain documents can be quite complex depending on the type of documents. For instance the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements dictate that medical documents have certain security requirements. Some document management systems have a rights management module that allows an administrator to give access to documents based on type to only certain people or groups of people.

Workflow
Workflow is a complex problem and some document management systems have a built in workflow module. There are different types of workflow. Usage depends on the environment the EDMS is applied to. Manual workflow requires a user to view the document and decide who to send it to. Rules-based workflow allows an administrator to create a rule that dictates the flow of the document through an organization: for instance, an invoice passes through an approval process and then is routed to the accounts payable department. Dynamic rules allow for branches to be created in a workflow process. A simple example would be to enter an invoice amount and if the amount is lower than a certain set amount, it follows different routes through the organization.

Collaboration
Collaboration should be inherent in a EDMS. Documents should be capable of being retrieved by an authorized user and worked on. Access should be blocked to other users while work is being performed on the document.

Versioning
Versioning is a process by which documents are checked in or out of the document management system, allowing users to retrieve previous versions and to continue work from a selected point. Versioning is useful for documents that change over time and require updating, but it may be necessary to go back to a previous copy.

 
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