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7. EDMS - Electronic Document Management Systems

The first major approach to "document management" came in the area of systems constructed to store "document images."

This application area first became important in places such as legal departments where there are enormous numbers of legal contracts and the likes.

I first encountered it on a visit to NOVA Corporation in Calgary in the late '80s. They manage oil pipelines, and have huge quantities of associated paperwork. In order to reduce the time spent looking up data, they decided to put the data online. They would:

As each image, even in compressed form, consumes 100K or so of disk space, the thousands of documents quickly eat up disk space. This necessitates creation of "disk farms" with enormous amounts of disk space.

Archival policies are set up so that material that is rarely accessed migrates to slower/cheaper media and may ultimately be discarded based on various policies. This includes options such as:

Maintenance of scanned images is important for organizations that need to archive documents for legal purposes. This commonly includes:

Once a system has been constructed that can link together scanned images, it is relatively easy to add support for inserting other sorts of documents that come in "naturally electronic form." Viewer software can then invoke the appropriate application as needed to view different kinds of document formats. This opens the utility of this up to organizations such as:

Integrated document management systems are sold by such companies as:

There are some packages that are somewhat less integrated that are freely available.

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Contact me at cbbrowne@acm.org