Order out of database chaos

Test drive | Xythos suite helps you archive, manage and retrieve documents ' even the buried ones

Xythos Enterprise Document Management

Reviewer's Comments: Although a bit expensive, Xythos Enterprise Document Management Suite lets you find the data you need, no matter where it's buried in your network. Precise tracking controls can ward off audits before they begin.

Performance: A

Functionality: A-

Value: B

Usability: B+

Price: $25,000 for 100 users

Contact:

Xythos Software

(415) 248-3800

http://www.xythos.com

STEP BY STEP: Xythos' EDMS 6.0 makes its auditing feature available at the folder level, which helps keep better tabs on all your data.

One of the frustrating realities of working in an office is that you can spend more time looking for data and documents than doing productive work.

At my last position in a financial planning and analysis department, I wasted weeks searching first-in-first-out databases for data I needed. Sometimes some of the most important data isn't even accessible via the network but is buried on the hard drive of a co-worker's computer.

Xythos Software's Enterprise Document Management Suite 6.0 addresses these issues by capturing, storing and managing shared content, files and records via the Internet. EDMS 6.0 consists of four products. Xythos Enterprise Document Manager is a Web-based program that gives users access to a complete set of document management features.

The WebFile Server stores, manages and controls all the documents and files accessed via the document manager.

Then the Xythos Drive facilitates transfer of information by turning any Windows desktop application into a document management and collaboration tool that is compatible with the EDMS systems and can provide off-line collaboration capabilities.

Finally, Developer Studio is a suite that lets you create or customize a Xythos document management installation.

EDMS 6.0 complies with Defense Department 5015.2 Web-based records management rules. It has an expanded auditing and reporting capability, and role-based security. One major feature that separates EDMS 6.0 from similar programs is that Xythos has incorporated records management functions at no extra charge for existing customers.

The hefty price tag for EDMS starts at $25,000 for 100 users and extends to an enterprise package that costs $45,000 for 250 users or $30 per user for 10,000 user licenses. However, for this price you get a lot of useful new Version 6.0 features.

For example, one crucial function in a document management system is the auditing feature. You want to have as much control as possible over targeting audits. The auditing feature in EDMS 6.0 now is available at the folder and system level, making it even easier to find hidden data.

Although the new role-based security greatly enhances the overall protection of your files, it's important to be proactive in monitoring sensitive data. That's why we were pleased to find a new monitor feature that lets users view the activity of a user or type of document.

On a similar note, it's important for a document management system to have a robust archiving feature so a user can easily archive a file regardless of its origin. This might not entirely solve the problem of files being left on users' hard drives, but easy archiving would make it less likely.

Most document management systems cannot archive e-mail messages. EDMS 6.0 can archive not only e-mail messages but also attachments.

Enhanced document management is another attribute that sets EDMS 6.0 apart. You can schedule updates to vital documents, with a simple tool. You can also include groups in workflows to increase efficiency on a project. Likewise, EDMS 6.0 lets you extend rules to a collection of documents and group those documents for disposition at the same time.

Customization and custom development are important elements of a document management system. Xythos has augmented the number of application programming interface files to let users modify the software to meet their agency's specifications. One example of the expanded API functionality is the new Java Specification Requests-170 support. JSR-170 is a content repository API for Java that allows EDMS to be compatible with Java applications.

EDMS offers expanded capabilities for importing and exporting documents and, more important, their respective metadata, security status, categorization and attributes. Finally, EDMS 6.0 lets you use different document and record attributes to filter, sort and display search results.

Xythos EDMS does a lot of things, from helping find information to tracking e-mail for audit purposes and increasing efficiency in projects. Surprisingly, each function is fairly easy to use. The time spent training people to properly use EDMS will be paid back quickly, especially if your agency is ever threatened with an audit and needs to find and show information before the situation gets any worse.

Carlos A. Soto, a former associate reviewer for GCN, is completing a master's degree in business with a focus on technology at Rice University in Houston.

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