As part of our Enterprise Content Management system we are upgrading our Exchange servers to 2010 to better handle our enterprise demands for e-mail content and integrate with SharePoint 2010. Upgrading from Exchange Server 2003 to 2010 most users won’t notice a huge difference in E-mail performance but where they will notice changes is the new look and feel of OWA (Outlook Web Access) 2010. OWA 2010 has some great new features such as Conversation view, which allows a user to view the whole chain of responses in one threaded view. Another great feature that I think everyone will be happy about is that in OWA 2010 all messages show up on one page, with OWA 2003 the maximum limit was 100 per page, now with OWA 2010 there is no limit no matter how big your inbox is all your messages are on one page. Also a great feature which we just tested is the function to allow a user to remotely wipe their phone via OWA, so if your phone is lost or stolen you can completely wipe your phone clean of sensitive information.
At ImageSource we represent a variety of software options, our consulting services provide an independent and objective approach. Many consultants use a one size fits all philosophy. Our flexible and proven methodologies allow us to help you define truly suitable solutions for ECM and integration with corporatet office tools.
One product I really enjoy working with and thinking of ways to use is ILINX Integrate. The product is designed to bridge the gap between separate applications on the client side with no custom applications. If you can administer an ECM solution, configuring ILINX Integrate should come easily. ILINX Integrate is installed and configured at the client level so there is no need to modify the Line of Business or other external application. In a nutshell what the tool is designed for is passing data from one application to another. If you have implemented a server side integration in the past, think about it: how many hours were spent designing, implementing, and testing the integration? How many groups were involved and had to sign off on the idea of an integration before you could even start thinking about designing it. Personally I think that is the biggest benefit of an ILINX Integrate implementation, the ability to link two applications without having to make any changes to the applications you are integrating. From my experience the application owners don’t care, once they hear it is client side and no change will be made to the application they cease to be involved. Of course there is a flip side to this; every workstation you want to have the integration configured on will need to be touched. The product can be installed and configured remotely, but still there is a level of effort there.
It can be rather simple to decide whether ILINX integrate or a server side integration is a better fit. First off, can the applications you want to pass data between be modified or is there a built in mechanism for transferring data? If no, then a product like ILINX Integrate might be the only option. The other criteria for deciding if ILNX Integrate might be a fit is how many clients would need the proposed integration? If it is just a single work group or department that needs the integration, is it worth the level of effort to create the integration versus the cost of ILINX Integrate. The same applies to an enterprise implementation: compare the estimated level of effort for implementing a custom integration versus the estimated level of effort to distribute and manage ILINX Integrate to clients across the enterprise.
The term “Data Strategy” and can be used to understand strategic requirements for enterprise metadata concepts and best practices. Why is this important for an ECM solution? The simple answer is why contribute to the disarray of an organizations data management when implementing an ECM solution.
The key to a successful ECM system is the ability for users to easily and quickly find information within the repository. If specific information cannot be easily and quickly found, users may not be enthusiastic about using the system.
The biggest stumbling block in the way of finding specific or relevant information is when the search returns too many documents that the user will have to physically look through before finding the specific document or set of documents that exactly meet their requirements. Continue reading →
As I was designing the training for our new software product, ILINX Capture, I had to think about how to structure the training. The best analogy that I came up with is that training should be like a story. There should be a beginning, middle, and an end.
The beginning or opening of the training session should set the tone of the training. The instructor should use a power point presentation to describe how the training is structured, and to outline what they will be covering during the session. The information that should be given to the students usually ranges from introducing themselves to a breakdown of what is covered each day.
The middle of training should primarily be lecture and labs. The lecture should be on the material that will be covered the labs. It is important that the material be structured in such a way that it will make sense to the students. First, you should walk the students through the concepts of why and when you would execute a task in the software. This should be followed by how to execute tasks by using labs. The labs should directly reflect what has been covered during the lecture. The first few labs should contain step by step instructions that the students need to complete. As the students move through the training there should be less step by step instruction in each lab. Another thing l like to see in lab materials are screen shots of what the student is trying to achieve. This should include screen shots of any buttons that need to be clicked.
The end of the training should be a short review of what was just covered in the lecture and lab. This allows the instructor to make sure the students understand the material. On the last day of training the review will cover all of the sections from the training. The very end of training includes the dreaded test. The questions can be multiple choice or true/false. These questions should only cover the material from the training and not introduce new material.
As long as you follow this basic format your training classes should be successful.
A common recommendation we have when designing Enterprise Content Management systems is the use of multiple environments. I am referring the use of Development, Test, and/or QA environments to complement a Production environment. There are many advantages to deploying systems with multiple environments, and I would like to discuss the role of multiple environments and the advantages to implementing them for your ECM system.
Depending on the size and complexity of the solution different supporting environments are recommended. For, example with a smaller departmental level solution with little or no custom development, it is common to only recommend one supporting environment used for development and testing. Now let’s take another example where a customer has an enterprise level ECM system with custom development and a requirement for minimal system downtime. The following is a common layout for this type of system:
Development Environment – Used for custom development and preparation for testing changes to the ECM system. This environment is usually much smaller than the Production Environment and is commonly running on virtual servers/machines.
Test Environment – Used for end to end testing of changes to the system. Changes are certified in this environment prior to moving to the QA or Production. This environment is usually smaller than Production, but it is imperative that the functionality is consistent to ensure proper testing and certification of the changes.
Quality Assurance Environment – This environment serves a couple of purposes and it closely mirrors the architecture of the Production Environment. Performance load testing and client acceptance are performed in this environment. In some instances, this environment can also serve as a disaster recovery environment in the event of a Production outage.
Production Environment – Used for the ECM Production System.
This environment configuration is representative of a common layout for multiple environments, but depending on the organization and solution it can vary. The ECM solution architects play a valuable role in recommending the optimal configuration. At ImageSource, we have extensive knowledge and experience with ECM architecture and take a great deal of pride in designing the correct layout for the customer and the solution. Continue reading →
Distributed Capture (for Scanning and Indexing) has been gaining ground in the last several years. Used to be that documents were sent to the basement where a dedicated scan operator “fed the dragon” by scanning hundreds if not thousands of documents a day. This was known as “Centralized Capture”. Problem was, how to relay the vital index information necessary for search and retrieval to the scan operator? Continue reading →
Microsoft has created a major presence in the enterprise content management arena with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007. Is SharePoint best suited to serve as a single ECM solution for the Enterprise? The real question is what does it take to have a successful SharePoint implementation. From my perspective, here are the things one should consider:
Implementations must be carefully planned. Incorrect installations lead to a lot more time and money spent later on down the road to fix the problem. Where are the cost savings then?
Tame the data chaos by defining document libraries based on content types. Be sure to not use a one solution fits all approach when defining metadata and requirements.
Administration is critical from an IT perspective in terms of its support, maintenance, and updates.
Have a roadmap, design documents, and a detailed project plan that defines roles and responsibilities, along with a risk assessment. Don’t try to do it all at once and make sure everyone knows the plan and the timelines.
Organizations such as ImageSource are using SharePoint for managing active electronic content and supporting collaboration. SharePoint can be easily used as a bolt on to existing ECM systems like Oracle IPM (Imaging and Business Process Management).
The value of implementing a duo like this increases exponentially with the ability to store fixed paper based content with in the Oracle IPM content repository and to leverage the SharePoint repository for your active electronic content and team collaboration portals.