The language of document management

To truly understand document management, it helps to have a grasp of some key terms, some of which could best be described as jargon. Here’s some document management lingo:

  1. Document management: The purpose of document management (DM) is to help companies better manage the creation and flow of documents, in particular structured documents, using databases and workflow engines that encapsulate metadata and business rules. Historically, document management used to refer just to the management of documents after they were scanned into a computer system. Today, document management more usually refers to the complete process of document imaging (or document scanning), optical character recognition, workflow, document storage, document indexing and document retrieval.
  2. Meta data: Information that describes data. A file name and modification date describe a computer file. The file name and date would be meta data.
  3. Silo: An individual group within an organization, such as a department or unit. The term is often used to criticize, suggesting that such groups tend to be inward-looking, or they don’t consider what other parts of the organization are doing — or how others will be affected — when they make a decision.
  4. Data type: In a database or application such as Excel, a data type provides context for the software to interpret the alphanumeric data. Different types of data have different sorting rules. Data types help applications know which rule to apply. For example, when sorted by month, January comes before April, but April comes before January when sorted alphabetically.
  5. Document imaging: Document imaging refers to the online storage, indexing, management and retrieval of documents. The most common form of document imaging is scanning of paper documents.
  6. Business process automation: Refers to the IT automation of any currently manual business process, such as writing up purchase orders or updating a employee work schedule on a bulletin board.
  7. Distributed capture: This relates to the scanning and digital capture of document images and metadata at each point site of creation. This cuts postage and courier costs and processing times, and improved traceability. Also, IT systems can then be used to automate workflow at the earliest possible stage.
  8. Workflow: Workflow usually refers to the automatic routing of documents around an organization to the person responsible for working on the document. Many document management solutions include advanced workflow options to automatically route documents for improved efficiency.
  9. Optical character recognition (OCR): OCR software is used to convert paper-based documents, microfilm or microfiche into ASCII text or a word processing document. OCR is most commonly used with document scanning. Text documents are scanned and stored as images. OCR software converts these into actual text.
  10. PDF conversion: Portable Document Format (PDF) files are an electronic file format from Adobe that has become a recognized standard for publishing brochures and information sheets.
  11. Document management software (Web server): Within document management, the term “Web server” is used when documents are accessed across the Internet via browsers. This is sometimes also known as a Web-based document management system.
  12. Content management: “Content” in this context generally refers to computer-based information such as the content of a Web site or a database. Content management means keeping content relevant, up-to-date, accurate, easily accessible and well-organized, so that high quality information is delivered to the user.
  13. Knowledge base: The fundamental body of knowledge available to an organization, including the knowledge in people’s heads, but supported by the organization’s collection of information and data. Sometimes the term is also used to describe a database of information.
  14. Knowledge broker: A person who facilitates the creation, sharing and use of knowledge in an organization.
  15. Knowledge centre: A place where knowledge is gathered and stored and can be accessed and used by other people. This could be a physical place like a library, or an interactive Web site or online discussion board — any place people gather encourage the sharing of knowledge.

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