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Integrated Document Management

Josep LlortWritten by Josep Llort on May 25, 2018

Document management systems have evolved from the application concept made to benefit the end user, to "integrated systems” in the company's application network; that creates the platform of programs with functionalities at the service of the user, meanwhile providing applications for productive entities and the necessary tools for ad-hoc application developers.

In general, all companies are configured under a hardware and software ecosystem where knowledge is stored and distributed by different servers and specialized software solutions, including applications that range from ERP, CRM, workflow automation and electronic mail services, among others, as well as hardware solutions such as scanners, fax or scanning stations. What we would call the hardware and software ecosystem where the tangible knowledge of the company is supported while employees are the intangible knowledge.

Because whatever you need, the size of the company for which you work, or the sector in which it operates, the business processes are based on enterprise information and in many cases it is collected in documents and records. In paper or digital format, the documents allow the information to flow; when the flow of information is optimized, the company produces more benefits. On the other hand, current standards or regulations demand more guarantees when it comes to protecting privacy or demonstrating compliance with laws.

Having a centralized repository, with the necessary levels of security, but at the same time facilitating instant access to the essential electronic documents and information for the smooth running of the business, is a challenge that every company must face. Being able to efficiently distribute information and electronic documents among multiple users so that they can access and work simultaneously on the same files. This creates a direct effect on the productivity and performance of the company in any business.

The integration of the document and records management in the organizations allows the satisfactory organization of the information, reducing the physical file and the costs while increasing the efficiency of all the business processes.

To provide the possibility of integrating document management solutions within the organization, the OpenKM electronic document management software offers SDK'S in Java, PHP and .NET. These SDKs give the option of developing web services so that the business applications create a network of exchanges of information and documents in real time, for the benefit of the members of the company and its stakeholders. Because through the KCenter platform, the technical staff of the organization will have the possibility of creating new applications based on the open source technology of OpenKM. The developers will appreciate the powerful API in SOAP and REST of the OpenKM web-based document management system, which offers complete coverage of the system. The APIs allow developers to create a customized front-end, autonomously, that can be designed for upload and download of information from the document management system; that in this way will be completely transparent for the user. Thus our clients, suppliers or stakeholders will enjoy a tailor-made interface in which to obtain information or provide documentation, based on the company's business processes, reserving the classic interface of the system to the staff of the organization.

Maintenance of integrations

Maintaining integration is one of the great forgotten topics. Applications evolve, APIs change and it is quite common for new methods to be created while deleting old ones. A paradigmatic example of this type of problem can be found with the old Google Docs API. Google started in parallel the service of Google Drive and granted a year of margin for users to adapt to the new API. In this case that we set an example, the jump was radical, both for the drastic change in the entire API that had little to do with the Google Docs; as well as the authentication procedure.

With this we mean, simply that the manufacturer against which we are integrating our applications will offer us facilities for future maintenance; or we can have significant problems. Here what we must do is not lose sight that applications must be updated and as part of these update business processes management, these maintenance tasks are derived.

In OpenKM, the subject of maintenance in the future is considered as one of the pedestals of the application. In this sense, we have created the SDK, which is a set of libraries that we maintain continually and that allow the user to integrate with OpenKM transparently. This allows saving time spent in maintenance due to version changes in OpenKM integration, while decrease also the possible errors in these integrations.

In OpenKM we are the first users of the SDK since our satellite applications use this solution to integrate with OpenKM and therefore we are also the first interested in the SDK and maintenance processes derived from uploads of versions as efficient as possible. Since we began using the SDKs, we have ostensibly reduced the cost of the support time, while the number of errors in the integrations has been reduced to practically zero, given that the SDK is a library that is continuously tested with continuous integration.
When choosing a document management software, this is a fundamental issue in which we must pay particular attention. Not only see the facilities that it provides us when making integrations, but also future maintenance.

OpenKM integrations

The OpenKM suite of programs already offers a series of integrations that in general terms are of interest to a wide range of organizations, regardless of the type of (public entity, company, foundation, NGO) size or sector in which it operates.

There are several ways to integrate with an application, the most common is through the API, but neither do you have to discard integrations at the database level or the level of exchange files in the operating system.

In short, in any integration we should look for:

  • Simplicity.
  • Ease of maintenance over time.

ERP or CRM's

A classic example of integrations is found in ERP. ERPs in general terms are software solutions that handle large volumes of data and generate a significant amount of documentation (invoices, delivery notes, budgets, etc.), but that in turn offer a document management solution that is quite poor at the time of storing and recover large volumes of documents. This type of integration is quite common, the simplest being those in which the document management system operates as a slave container on which two basic operations are carried out:

  • Storage of documents with metadata.
  • Recovery of documents from metadata (for example the id number of an invoice).

This type of integration can be done directly by the OpenKM API in real time or, for example, with batch tasks where OpenKM collects daily information (documents + CSV files with metadata) and incorporates them into the document control system.
There are different ways of integrating with these types of applications, but to a large extent, this depends on the facilities offered by the ERP itself for this type of solution. A very basic example of this type of integration can be found with the CRM Vtiger (

Microsoft Add-ins

Microsoft Office Add-ins allows Office suite applications to interact with OpenKM quickly and efficiently.

  • Microsoft Outlook Add-in: enables users to select multiple emails and import the content of the email and documents attached to OpenKM. Moreover, if the user wishes to attach a large file, OpenKM can replace it with a download link, to ensure the correct reception of the e-mail by the recipient.
  • Microsoft Word Add-in: allows users to upload new files as well as edit those that already exist in OpenKM, from the application.
  • Microsoft Excel Add-in: users can edit the contents of the document management software or from the Office application and upload the files or their new versions to OpenKM.
  • Microsoft PowerPoint Add-in: allows you to edit the files and upload them to OpenKM, both from the document management system and from the application.

Also, from all the Add-ins it is possible to add valuable information to the documents. You can add notes to files, keywords, categories or metadata groups.

Electronic digital signature client

The OpenKM electronic signature client supports any digital certificate of electronic signature, which allows users to sign any document created or managed from OpenKM. The signing of documentation is usually an essential step to obtain approval or demonstrate the agreement between the parties involved in business processes.

Scanner client

The OpenKM scanner client allows the integration of the document management system with any device that follows the TWAIN protocol. In processes of digitization of information – digitized documents -, it is essential to have a scanner client that facilitates the process of scanning documents to enter data into the company's document management system.

Other connectors

OpenKM offers ad-hoc integrations with other systems. With Vtiger CRM for example, OpenKM can be used as a back-end of the customer relationship management system. With Google Drive, OpenKM has developed an integration to allow the simultaneous edition of documents by multiple users. WordPress or Joomla, CMS that enable you to create or maintain blogs or web pages; so that OpenKM builds or prepares content that feeds the updates of these platforms. AutoCAD, for managing and previewing .dwg files from the document management system. The BonitaSoft connector that allows the integration of workflows in the OpenKM enterprise content manager. And the integration with OCR zone engines like Kofax, ChronoScan or Abby Flexicapture that allows the amortization of these optical character recognition solutions about the OpenKM enterprise content manager.

Benefits of integrated document systems

  • Rapid processing of large volumes of information: document integration in the information management system in companies allows users to enjoy the ability to manage the information contained in large document repositories conveniently.
  • Integration of archive and recovery tasks: when information or a document becomes part of the company's document management system, the data will be integrated into the centralized repository accessible to users based on defined security and the privileges they have.
  • Advanced capture and storage capabilities: OpenKM's content management system, apart from offering commercial OCR connectors, provides an optical character recognition engine. This engine allows the extraction of high-value data, contained in scanned documents, in such a way that favours the digitalization of the file cabinets of the organization, while increasing the effectiveness and efficiency of the processes of introducing information to the system. This will make it possible for other users in other places to access these data, necessary to take suitable decisions.
  • Risk reduction: the integration of document management in the company helps the design and application of coherent and robust security policies, that protect the company's documentation and information from information losses and unwanted access.
  • Reduction of management costs: thanks to integrated systems, companies can work in a coordinated manner as a single entity. This ideal should always happen, but experience shows that it does not happen as much as it should. Synchronization is a milestone that can be achieved thanks to enterprise content managers. Because, through its set of functionalities and automated business processes, minimizes the impact of human errors. Thanks to workflow engines, create workflows, or with OCR solutions digitize and capture information in formats that allow the archiving and access to documents in the long-term.

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