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Enterprise Content Management – Quick Guide

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The lifecycle of content within an organization can involve multiple processes that may be hard to keep track of. Businesses today depend on enterprise content management solutions to create a comprehensive platform for the enterprise to manage information right from the collection of content to the final stage of the cycle.

With increased innovation, more can be accomplished as the handling of content is automated and various sectors of industry are interlinked with access to carefully planned content that is centrally managed.

What is Enterprise Content Management?

Basically, it is a system designed to provide a solution for managing documents within an enterprise. Different kinds of unstructured content like documents in Word, PDF, or even scanned documents are stored in an easy-to-access location but access is restricted to authorized persons.

Whether it is an educational institution managing learners' information, or a government agency storing varied kinds of data, all organizations need to be able to do business better and ECM systems give them the ability to do so.

A key feature of this solution is its elimination of paper documents or at least minimizing their need and use. You can imagine how much more organized a department will be if it doesn't have to go through stocks of papers whenever a document is needed. Content management solutions bring about structure within the enterprise and that creates

Efficiency.

Features of Enterprise Content Management System

Digital Document Capture

The whole management process begins with the capture of content from various sources and storing it in a digital repository. The repository however needs to be secure. Any kind of content can be stored for example resumes, contact lists, contracts, invoices, reports, and so on. This process can be done by:

  • Creating digital forms like job applications.
  • Collecting files from digital sources like Word documents and PDFs.
  • Scanning paper documents and saving them.
  • Accessing shared locations and downloading content.

Storage of Documents in a Digital System

Documents are stored according to an organization's storage policy. This means specific documents are stored in a particular repository and a defined format. The documents though need to be accessible for editing, viewing and should be easily moved.

This differs from manual repositories in the ease of access and how easy it is to store and retrieve the documents when needed.

Retrieve Documents from Repository

Once the content has been securely stored, it is then made retrievable using various devices. Modern ECMS provides cloud storage which means the content can be accessed on the go, whether you are using a smartphone while having coffee at Starbucks or seated at a desktop in the office. Some of the ways you can find particular content include:

  • Full-text search.
  • Specific word search.
  • Document metadata.
  • Date document was created.

Process Automation

When automation comes into the picture, manual processes like making several copies of the same document or dragging and dropping content into documents are eliminated. Enterprises are able to maximize minimal resources to achieve maximum results. Creation, approval, and delivery of documents are just some of the processes that are automated to improve efficiency in the management of content. Some automation features of enterprise content management solutions include:

  • Timely routing of documents or information to the right recipients.
  • Notification of recipients when they need to act on particular documents.
  • Edit content to identify and eliminate errors.

Data Safety

There are various document risks that organizations may be exposed to. Many of them use these systems to minimize risks. Data safety is part of regulatory compliance therefore most enterprises in various industries need to ensure data safety at all times. Unauthorized access, editing, and destruction. Main features here include:

  • Access restriction to documents, folders, and various properties of documents.
  • Provide monitored trails of document access, editing, and deletion.
  • Controlling all forms of access to content within the system.

Why Enterprise Content Management?

A lot of big organizations are pleased with the impact of this software on their business. Experts predict that the industry will be worth $67 billion by 2022 and that is for good reason. Enterprise content management is much more than a tool to prevent chaos in the office when you need to find documents. There are some solid reasons that a business should consider introducing it. Below are some convincing ones.

Lower Expenditure with Increased Revenue

Certain direct costs can be reduced with the introduction of the right enterprise content management solution. These savings can be reallocated to other areas of the business that will produce more returns on investment. Some of the savings a business can enjoy include:

  • Reduction in spending on storage space for files as well as document management.
  • Reduced spending on mailing and other physical delivery options since digital documents can be sent automatically.
  • Easier visibility of opportunities like upselling and contract renewals.
  • Most ECM vendors allow an organization to choose a package that suits their budget and needs.

Enterprise Content Management Solutions Save Time and Increase Productivity

Searching for documents is one of the leading time-wasting activities in the office. Statistics indicate that on average, employees spend 30% of their time looking for files. That means 2 hours and 40 minutes of an 8-hour working day is spent playing hide and seek with important documents needed to carry out different processes. With software that ensures content is stored in a central location and can be found by simply typing the name, you can reclaim those hours and put the saved time towards more productive activities.

Enhanced Collaboration

Most enterprises today depend on collaboration and teamwork to get things done better and faster. ECM solutions make this possible through easy access to content. For example, the HR department may need to collaborate with finance on payrolls and the sales department will need to collaborate with legal minds to create contracts. Having digital files in a central location means that these teams do not have to meet in the boardroom to exchange documents, they can simply access them within the system from wherever they are. It makes it faster, more comfortable, and efficient

Heightened Data Security with Flexible Access

Although your business needs to have strict data security guidelines in place, there should not be blanket restrictions on access in place. Content management software provides flexible access so that the organization can put in place access guidelines that give individuals access to content that they need and restricts access to particular content. This system is more reliable and can be improved through updates depending on threats detected. It also meets industry regulatory guidelines.

Enterprise Content Management Software Improves Service Delivery

Service delivery is essential for businesses to attract and retain customers. A McKinsey study identifies poor customer service as a key reason for the termination of contracts. Organizations can ensure this is not them if they can guarantee prompt service. With this service, document management can be automated, services can be personalized and errors can be minimized, these are just a few of the ways in which service delivery can meet customer expectations. It should go without saying also, that good service delivery can translate into a healthy bank account for the organization.

Who Needs ECM?

Just about any kind of organization that deals with large amounts of information can benefit from using this software. If your business needs to centralize data storage and have it easily accessed, then it would be a good idea to adopt content management solutions.

If you have departments that are drowning in paperwork and you would like to save them from the hassle of dealing with paper documents, then this is for you. It will also be a step towards automating certain processes within your organization for better efficiency.

Final Word

There are different stages of adopting content management for an enterprise. You should not jump to the advanced stages without going through processes like evaluation of your needs and getting the people within the enterprise used to the idea of new technology. The return on investment is almost guaranteed as long as you have the right solution with the right features, as you advance in adoption of the solution, you will also see the returns growing steadily.

Windward offers document automation software solutions like Core and Hub which are part of the Enterprise content management system. Know more about them and try them free for 14-days to check if it suits your document generation needs.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

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SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

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Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

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Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

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Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

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Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

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Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

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Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

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Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

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PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

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Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

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Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

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Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

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Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

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Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

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Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Written by:_
Genesis Abel

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