Managing document complexity

Managing document complexity

The old adage "keep it simple" is sometimes lost with enterprise document management products. Instead, vendors layer on non-core functions such as multimedia cataloguing - making the products pricey and difficult to implement and use. There are exceptions, however: Xerox DocuShare 4.0.1 and Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0 embrace simplicity and still deliver solid document and file management.

DocuShare is among the more cost-effective enterprise content managers. Its easily implemented document management, collaboration tools, and electronic distribution are a fine fit for document-intensive businesses. Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0 forgoes DocuShare's more formal team tools, such as threaded discussions, but covers all the document management essentials with little compromise. With either product, enterprises should see quick start-up, little need for IT support, lower costs, and more efficient business processes.
Xerox DocuShare 4.0.1
Xerox DocuShare emphasises ease-of-use, yet it doesn't withhold features. Out of the box, enterprises get document collaboration and personalisation, workflow, Verity's K2D search engine, an embedded database, imaging tools, and plenty of scalability.

DocuShare runs on Windows Server 2000 or 2003, Solaris, or Linux, and (optionally) works with Oracle or Microsoft SQL Server databases. For special needs, such as high-volume paper document scanning, the solution grows through add-on modules and integrators for third-party applications.

It works well as a basic document manager, while collaboration tools help workgroups update and track items such as research documents or marketing plans. DocuShare also handles electronic content distribution; recipients are notified when content is ready and download it from a secure location.

I installed DocuShare, a J2EE Servlet engine, on my Windows server in about an hour. No client software is necessary beyond a Web browser.

Version 4.0.1 introduces a Web portal view - My DocuShare - that I quickly customised with favourite objects, personal document collections, calendar, list of routing tasks to complete, and my browsing history. Navigation is straightforward.

When a document is located, associated edit icons let me view properties, check out the file, or route it for approval. I liked the new wizard-based Routing Slip because it let me create multi-step workflows without any programming.

The main interface's tabbed management pages offer quick access to other functions, including version history and permissions.

Collections appear within Outlook as regular mail folders, so I didn't have to switch to another application. Moreover, the DocuShare Outlook Client supports Outlook mail rules, so files you receive as email attachments can automatically be routed to DocuShare according to criteria you establish.

You can also submit content via the optional DocuShare Email Agent.
Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0
Xythos doesn't pretend to be a do-it-all document manager - you won't find Web content management or digital asset management. What Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0 delivers, however, is simple, affordable, essential document and file management.

To do so, Xythos is built around a complete set of library services, including version control, audit history, and subscriptions.

Xythos doesn't kid about easy setup and use. In less than 30 minutes, I set up the underlying WebFile Server (written in Java) on a Windows 2000 server and configured Xythos' Document Manager application.

At the most basic level, users load the Xythos Drive desktop application, which instantly turns any desktop applications into a WebDAV-compatible publisher. Using this add-in, I easily edited Word and Excel documents stored on my Xythos server. Publishers control access rights, file locking, and versioning, and Xythos Drive provides offline synchronisation.

Most users will want to take full advantage of the Enterprise Document Manager application, controlled via the Xythos Web UI. Version 5.0 improves this experience with a more manageable menu structure: .

The File Manager let me quickly create shared folders and upload documents using the top toolbar. Action Icons offer a simple way to manage an item's access permissions and change collaboration properties, including versioning, locks, and subscriptions.

Version 5.0 improved Xythos' built-in seek tool as well. You may now save searches and organize them under the left-hand navigation, making it easier to locate files you use every day.

Building workflows takes just a few clicks to designate which users need to review and approve document changes. Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0 is a fine step up from legacy ECM systems. If you haven't yet adopted a document management solution, Xythos will bring significant improvements over email because it gives users access to essential document collaboration with no extended learning. The solution is also a good complement to higher-end ECM systems that can be reserved for more complex needs.

Bottom line Xerox DocuShare 4.0.1 Company: Xerox,

Cost: To be announced on release Platforms: Java-based server runs on Windows, Unix, Linux; connects to Oracle or SQL databases. Local information: Launches in Australia in early December. Sold direct to resellers through the Xerox sales team. Contact (02) 9856 5000 and ask for Rod Vickers, Mark Hilliard or Michael Tea. Conclusion: DocuShare - a secure, Web-based ECM suite - provides document management, collaboration, project management, and electronic content distribution. The system is simple to configure, use, and administer.
Bottomline Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite 5.0

Cost: Starts at $US180 per user; may drop to $US20 per user for quantity licenses Platforms: 2SE or J2EE servers, including Windows NT, 2000, 2003; Linux; Solaris; IBM AIX; HP/UX; Mac OS X Distributed by: Aeco Pacific Conclusion: This open-standards, Web-based suite provides file and document management, including version control, workflow, and document retention and classification; document scanning is optional. A lightweight, intuitive client requires nominal training and minimal change to existing processes, resulting in fast deployments. Users manage many system aspects, so there's less burden on IT.

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