Category Archives for "Document Management"

Oracle IPM Workflow Software: Overuse of Custom Forms

With a product such as Oracle IPM software the temptation arises to develop a new front end to feed an existing software solution the client may have in place. The IPM product has a GUI which allows easy rule based routing, e-mail notification, trigger events and others with no programming skill required. The solution does allow for considerable development to take place as well, which is where the temptation to over develop can occur.

The workflow is powerful in aiding the processing of incoming content, be it Web based forms submitted or scanned documents, and it provides the tools to facilitate data entry.  Its ability to create custom forms allows for data entry to occur solely within the IPM platform. Care should be exercised though, since it should never be the goal to simply substitute an existing data entry method with a new face. This leads usually to excessive coding of the workflow form in trying to mimic all the functions and rules of the existing product, creating a bond between the two products which will require more effort in the future when the platforms undergo upgrades.

In many instances the workflow will be at its best when it is used as a simple delivery mechanism for the content, this will give the organization the advantages of an electronic workflow and minimize if not eliminate the need for custom coding. In other instances there is a happy medium; usually this is when a separate mechanism such as Kofax KTM has been used to extract data or if the input mechanism is a web form where the data has been captured already. In these instances a Workflow form and a script event which subsequently uploads the data after review can be extremely efficient; again the caution needs to be made to not try to recreate an already existing program

The delineation between how much custom code is enough and how much custom code is too much can be tough to ascertain, but with experience and some common sense evaluation on how much gain is really being realized for the end users experience in processing a balance should be obtainable, cutting development costs and time to implement for your solutions.

Jeff Doyle
Sr. Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.

 

 

Leveraging ECM Software APIs

System Engineers must to be able to choose from a menu of technologies in order to solve ECM business problems. While ECM software vendors often strive to provide a complete set of tools for any anticipated business challenge, in reality, technology advances almost always outpace product release cycles.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA), Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP), Extensible Markup Language (XML), and many other similar, and often interoperable, technologies have and are being developed in an effort to provide the ability to glue disparate systems together using  published, standards-based mechanisms. While extremely useful, these technologies suffer from some of the same issues as vendor software such versioning, bloat, vendor specificity, and so on.

As an engineer in the field, it’s critical to choose best-of-breed products that solve a core purpose extremely well, then extend the product with other current technologies until a complete solution emerges. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), whether COM, Web Service, or something else is what makes this extensibility possible. The most useful ECM products provide rich APIs and callable interfaces.

I’m currently finishing a project that uses Oracle’s Imaging and Process Management (OIPM) product. The customer’s version of OIPM targets Microsoft Visual Basic 6 .dlls for custom scripts, and Microsoft .NET 1.1 framework for web development. However, I wanted to target the 2.0 .NET framework for the process scripts, and the 3.5 SP1 framework for the web interface. The web interface solution in particular takes advantage of LINQ, XML data stores, implicitly typed variables, jQuery, and AJAX.

Fortunately, OIPM, while using a fairly old COM-based codebase itself, provides mechanisms that allow an engineer to retain the proven usefulness of OIPM image storage and workflow, but extend to .NET managed code for scripts and web development. The sum of the parts becomes a much more useful solution then if all development was restricted to a closed ECM system that did not provide APIs or was completely COM based.

If you wish to dig deeper, or need a solution, ImageSource  provides training, custom development, and field services for many of the popular ECM products.

Clint Lewis
Senior Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.

 

 

Managing Multiple ECM Systems at an Organization

A trend that I have been noticing more and more is the presence of multiple Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Systems at organizations.  There are many reasons why the scenario of multiple ECM Systems can occur;

  1. mergers & acquisitions
  2. strengths of the ECM products
  3. lack of internal communication and/or understanding of existing systems in the organization
  4. division of dollars at departmental levels, and so forth and so on…

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