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A Guide to Document Comparison, Collaboration And Security

A Guide to Document Comparison, Collaboration And Security

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Published by John Melendez
Electronic documents are, for many information workers, the primary “product” that they
manufacture. In many business situations, information workers follow predefined document
workflows and manage documents within a central repository; others choose to assemble, revise,
and verify information using nothing more than their email and word processing applications.
Electronic documents are, for many information workers, the primary “product” that they
manufacture. In many business situations, information workers follow predefined document
workflows and manage documents within a central repository; others choose to assemble, revise,
and verify information using nothing more than their email and word processing applications.

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Categories:Types, Business/Law
Published by: John Melendez on Oct 01, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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A Guide to Document Comparison,Collaboration And Security
Osterman Research, Inc. P.O. Box 1058 Black Diamond, WA 98010-1058
Phone: (253) 630-5839 Email: info@ostermanresearch.com www.ostermanresearch.com
An Osterman Research Report
PublishedAugust201
 
A Guide to Document Comparison, Collaboration & Security 
 ©2010 Osterman Research, Inc. 2
Executive Summary
THE NEED TO MANAGE AND CONTROL DOCUMENTS
Electronic documents are, for many information workers, the primary “product” that theymanufacture. In many business situations, information workers follow predefined documentworkflows and manage documents within a central repository; others choose to assemble, revise,and verify information using nothing more than their email and word processing applications.Information workers generate the majority of their documents using several different Microsoftproductivity applications, including Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint. It is not uncommon forusers within the same organization to use multiple versions of the same application. Thesedocuments are then routinely sent via email to communicate and share document drafts withother team members.In today’s organizations, documents are created, revised and reviewed on desktop computers, onthe go with laptops, or mobile devices such as BlackBerry’s. As part of the review cycle thesedocuments are shared with others, who then make modifications and forward them to additionalinterested parties, who further revise them and circulate them again to even more people. Theseteams not only review and share documents but attach new versions to messages as they aredistributed to co-workers, colleagues, partners, and customers for input.Documents are commonly stored in a variety of document management systems and formats,some of which cannot be edited by the people who need access to them. Many of thesedocuments contain metadata or confidential information and can expose potentially sensitivecontent to those who are not authorized to see it.The end result is a mish-mash of document management practices, version control problems, lostproductivity, and higher costs – all of which will become more pronounced as documents anddocument types proliferate, and as economic pressures force companies to do more work withfewer people and tighter budgets.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF NOT DOING THINGS PROPERLY
An organization that does not adequately address these problems can suffer a variety ofconsequences including damage to an organizations brand, lost customers, legal actions andfines for improperly managing information.Organizations in which documents arenot managed properly can also have asever loss in employee productivity. Ifwe conservatively assume that theaverage employee who is paid $60,000each year wastes just five minutes perday dealing with version control, fileformat and other document-relatedproblems, an organization of 1,000 suchusers will lose $625,000 annually inemployee productivity.However, the consequences can be much more severe and costly than just productivity. Forexample, there have been a number of legal cases in which metadata has been mistakenlyexposed or not presented as required. An organization’s inability to track this information or itsfailure to produce it in a timely way can lead to enormous legal judgments or sanctions.
An employee who makes $60,000 per year and who wastes 5 minutes per day will cost the organization $625 per year in lost productivity 
 
A Guide to Document Comparison, Collaboration & Security 
 ©2010 Osterman Research, Inc. 3
ABOUT THIS GUIDE
This guide focuses on the key challenges in managing documents in today’s companies andlooks at the technology that is helping organizations with document comparison, metadataremoval, and content security. This guide also discusses key questions that decision makersshould ask as they develop business practices and deploy technologies to resolve them.
What are the Key Challenges in Managing Documents?
MULTI-PARTY REVIEW AND MODIFICATION/VERSION CONTROL
Collaboration has become the byword of the modern organization and will become moreimportant as organizations become more distributed and more dependent on teams to manageprojects. A key element of any collaborative process is the ability to create, review and publishdocuments of various types easily and efficiently.However, many collaborative tools today lack a variety of important features that are necessary toensure a seamless document creation and modification process:
Version control
Arguably one of the most critical challenges in any collaborative document process is versioncontrol. The issue is exacerbated by the use of email as a file transport mechanism, as wellas by the sometimes large number of users that often participate in the document editingprocess. While the “track changes” feature available in virtually all word processors is ofsome help, it does little to solve the underlying version control issue with which most usersmust contend. For example, sending documents for review via email cannot ensure thatreviewers will use “Track Changes” or make edits to the latest version of a document,resulting in frequent modification of old versions and extra work in reconciling multiple, editedversions.
Accurate document comparison
The ability to accurately compare different versions of a document is critical, particularly forsensitive documents like contracts, proposals, statements of work and the like. This isespecially true for documents in which the legal and/or regulatory consequences formisstatements can be severe. A “good enough” comparison that misses details likecomplicated formatting or table cell changes can have damaging consequences.
Managing multiple document formats
There can be difficulties in ensuring compatibility between multiple document formats,especially when different versions of the same software are used in an organization (e.g., thedifference in file format between Microsoft Word 2007 and Word 2003), not to mention whendifferent vendors’ software is used. For example, the typical user today will create or be sent.doc, .docx, .rtf and .pdf files. Resolving the differences between file types and allowingindividuals to access and modify documents regardless of the software they use is vital toensuring employee productivity.
Ease of use
If a system is not easy to use, employees simply will not use it. Consequently, the difficultyinherent in using many content control solutions will keep employees from utilizing them,negating much of the value the organization had hoped to realize by deploying the system.Solutions that are easy to use and leverage your existing software tools and infrastructureinvestments will increase adoption and limit training costs.

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