Workflow and imaging software

Workflow and imaging software<@VM>These integrated systems combine workflow, imaging and other modules<@VM>These integrated systems combine workflow, imaging and other modules (cont.)

Integrated document management makes powerful partners of what once were virtual strangers

By J.B. Miles

Special to GCN

No app is an island, especially not in today's network computing environment. Applications that had operated separately are now bound in tightly integrated suites. A case in point: Workflow and imaging software, once relative strangers, now are often found together under the document management umbrella.

The rise of enterprise computing and the rapid growth of electronic commerce are giving the document management paradigm a face-lift. Instead of a jumble of loosely connected programs, the latest document management software packages are built around client-server architectures running Microsoft Windows NT or Unix. Most comprise a core program loaded on the server with the addition of other service modules, including workflow and imaging.

New terms such as knowledge management and content management are showing up in vendor literature, but don't let them distract you. The General Services Administration and other agencies have embraced the concept of knowledge management, but the goal of document management hasn't changed. The Aberdeen Group, a high-tech consulting company in Boston, describes knowledge management as a grandiose term for the 'straightforward business problem of getting the right information to the right end user, at the right cost, and in the appropriate format to assist in decision-making and increased service response.'

By any name, document management is a sizable industry. A recent report by the Association for Information and Image Management International of Silver Spring, Md., predicts that overall spending for document management will reach $22.7 billion this year and increase to $41.5 billion by 2003'a combined compound annual growth rate of 26 percent.

On the rise

Tips for buyers

'Integrated workflow and imaging components are sophisticated enough for most users.

'Don't buy a client-server program unless it's Web-enabled.

'New terms such as knowledge management don't change the bottom-line goals of document management.

'Client-side software can take up lots of memory.

'Insist on log-on and password systems with multiple levels of security.

Spending for enterprise and production workflow components will amount to $4.3 billion this year and rise to $8.3 billion by 2003, while spending for various imaging components will range from $8.4 billion to $11.4 billion during the same time period, the AIIM report projects.

At its simplest, document management automates the process of filing and retrieving diverse word processing files, computer-aided design and manufacturing documents, spreadsheets, scanned images, and other documents. The idea is to make them available in ways that are the most beneficial to the largest number of users.

Workflow systems, as a part of the process, streamline the time-consuming tasks associated with traditional paper-based document flow and free people for more productive tasks.

Imaging systems use scanners, cameras, printers and computers to convert paper documents into electronic images to simplify their management and movement within a group.

Other components, such as computer output to laser disk (COLD), optical character recognition (OCR) and intelligent character recognition (ICR) modules, can be added to great advantage.

The potential payoff from integrated programs is substantial; most organizations using them benefit from reduced administrative costs, quick return on investments, more efficient use of personnel and the ability to turn unrelated data into usable information'that is, knowledge.

This Buyers Guide features integrated suites that contain both workflow and imaging components. Most also include COLD, OCR, ICR, text retrieval and other integrated modules. All but one are client-server systems that operate under Windows 9x, NT, Unix or Unix variants, with Windows 9x the most common client platform.

The exception is Archive Power System Inc.'s Power Professional 1.5, a standalone desktop PC system. Also, Blueridge Technologies offers a free single-user version of its Optix 5.4, which is downloadable from the company's Web site.

Just about every product listed here provides its own database or uses a third-party database system such as Microsoft SQL Server for document storage and retrieval. Almost all are Web-enabled so users can search and retrieve documents from their databases from anywhere in the world using only a Web browser.

Suites such as Altris Software Inc.'s Altris EB 11.0, Blueridge's Optix 5.4, Feith Systems and Software Inc.'s FDD 5.0, and Highland Technologies Inc.'s HighView 3.04 are fairly straightforward document management systems to which various modules, such as workflow and imaging, are added according to user requirements.

Other suites, such as Computer Associates International Inc.'s Raveler 2.0 and ISPA Inc.'s DOCDepot 2.0, contain imaging and workflow components but are targeted more for Web content management than for client-server document management.

The push toward e-commerce has spawned a new software category: electronic business process automation. Axonet Inc.'s MegaFlow 3.5, Documentum Inc.'s Documentum 4i and Optika Imaging Systems Inc.'s eMedia 1.5 are in this category.

In assessing a product's abilities in workflow and imaging, consider these features:

Workflow. Workflow software's main task is to move electronic documents quickly and efficiently along assigned routing paths. The flow of documents is automatic, which results in greater productivity, efficiency and user satisfaction.

Advanced workflow features usually include:

' Route planning. Graphical interfaces in most workflow packages let users create complex workflow routes in minutes and modify them on the fly.

' Parallel routing. Documents can be sent along parallel routes for processes that require the attention of several people at once.

' Rules-based routing. Built-in logic governs where documents should go based on their descriptions.

' Check-in/check-out. Users can check documents out to work on them, then check them back in when the work is done.

' Tracking. All documents are accounted for.

' Delegation. When an assigned user is absent, the project manager can designate a substitute to work on a document.

' Saving revisions. Document revisions are tagged and saved accordingly.

' Scripting. All workflow apps are scriptable so that integrating them with other applications is simply a matter of point-and-click.

' Digital signatures. Digital signatures verify that a specific person is approved to access files or documents.

' Monitoring. The workflow software monitors and measures the time it takes to complete a process.

Document imaging. Good imaging systems work with popular off-the-shelf software to scan, store and manage thousands or even millions of documents electronically.

Whatever form your documents are in'paper, microfilm, slides, X-rays or CAD drawings'they all can be scanned into electronic form. Then they can be indexed according to criteria developed by users. Because most imaging systems support storage technologies such as RAID, optical jukeboxes and CD-ROMs, storage space is virtually unlimited.

Advanced imaging features include:

' Multiple document support. Users can index, archive, manage, retrieve and control all kinds of files, including word processing files, spreadsheets, databases, graphics, photographs and image files of any type.

' Hyperlinks. Any document in a database can be hyperlinked to any other inside the system'and outside it if the system is Web-enabled.

' Image viewer. The viewers of most imaging systems provide zoom, rotate, annotation, thumbnail and other features to make it easier to see the image from various angles.

' Multiple workstation support. Client-server architectures enable images to be scanned into one workstation and indexed from workstations across the network.

' Annotation and markup. A high-powered imaging component lets users annotate and mark up images. Colored lines and shapes can be drawn on the image without changing the images themselves.

Here are some other document management features to look for:

Web gateways. Web-enabling software resides on the server in most client-server document management systems. This gives authorized users outside an organization access to any of the documents residing on the system's database via a standard Web browser such as Netscape Navigator or Microsoft Explorer.

Electronic document routing via the Web is also possible. Some Web servers, such as I Levy & Associates' Navigator Advantage 2000 Web Server, also can provide a single-source server for Intranet network areas.

COLD. Modules such as Blueridge Technologies' Optix COLD let users move mountains of data into long-term storage by writing documents onto CD-ROM disks. Documents are automatically indexed and filtered according to ASCII or image formats, and the system supports optical jukeboxes with capacities ranging from hundreds of gigabytes to terabytes.

Users can create scripts that automatically format COLD documents. If a user drags a file from a host computer onto the appropriate script, Optix will automatically format the data for COLD storage.

OCR and ICR. Modules such as those in Highland Technologies' HighView OCR can convert image files to text files and let users do searches based on content. Character recognition is specialized image processing that includes features such as noise reduction, which removes stray black marks; line removal, which deletes fixed horizontal and vertical lines before scanning; and image registration, which aligns each image to vertical and horizontal registration points.

J.B. Miles of Pahoa, Hawaii, writes about communications and computers.

VendorProductTypeServer platformDescriptionPrice
1Mage Software Inc.
Englewood, Calif.
1Mage 6.11Document managementNT, AIX, DGUX, SCO UnixImaging software with workflow, computer output to laser disk (COLD), forms and optical character recognition components$8,500 per server
Altris Software Inc.
San Diego
Altris EB 11.0Document managementNT, Unix32-bit integrated document management with workflow, imaging, COLD and Web- connect components$11,000 per server, $190 per seat
Archive Power Systems Inc.
New York
Archive Power Professional 1.5Document managementWin98Integrated document management for workgroups and small departments $599 per user
Arvee Systems Inc.
Bohemia, N.Y.
Millennium:: OMS * 6.0Document managementNTElectronic document management with imaging, COLD and add-ins such as voice recognition and client or server OCR$6,500 per five-user license
Axonet Inc.
Devens, Mass.
MegaFlow 3.5Electronic business process automationNT, AIX, Solaris, SCO UnixIntegrated automation of front-office and e-commerce applications with workflow, imaging, document management, encryption, security access control, e-forms and database access$3,000 up per server, $200 per seat
Blueridge Technologies
Flint Hill, Va.
Optix 5.4Document managementUnix, AIX, NT, Solaris Integrated Web-based document management with workflow, imaging, text retrieval, optical storage, COLD and OCR components$35,000 up
Captiva Software Corp.
San Diego
Genesis 2.52Forms processing Win9x, NTIntegrated document management for work- groups and small departments with workflow, imaging, OCR and forms development components$4,000 up per license
Computer Associates International Inc.
Islandia, N.Y.
Raveler 2.0Web content managementNT, Solaris, HP-UX Document management for enterprisewide Web implementation with workflow, imaging and versioning$24,000 up
ComSquared Systems Inc.
UNISearch 6.0Document managementSolaris, AIX Integrated document management with workflow, imaging, COLD components; can be implemented as a standalone system$12,000
Dakota Imaging
Columbia, Md.
Transform 4.0Tax-return processingNT, AIXWorkflow-managed end-to-end forms and tax-return transaction processing with integrated imaging, OCR and ICR data capture, auto-indexing, document image retrieval, and optional COLD modules$38,000 up
Docubase Systems Inc.
Clearwater, Fla.
Docubase Enterprise 2.0Document managementNTScalable enterprise document management with workflow, document COLD, automatic indexing and bar code recognition$18,000 up per server
Docucorp International
PowerOffice 5.0Document managementNTIntegrated product suite with full document management, workflow and imaging components; allows data entry and viewing of archived documents via the Internet or intranets$25,000 per server, $5,000 for 25 seats
Documentum Inc.
Pleasanton, Calif.
Documentum 4iE-business process automationNT, UnixManages content storage, versioning, publishing, security, tracking and archiving for Web-based document management systems$50,000 per server, $200 to $600 per seat
Eastman Software Inc.
Billerica, Mass.
Work Manager Suite 2.5Knowledge managementNTWorkflow, imaging and document management suite that plugs into Microsoft BackOffice and Office to allow collection, organization, sharing, management, indexing and searching of a wide variety of document types$995 per server, $99 up per seat
Feith Systems and Software Inc.
Fort Washington, Pa.
Feith Document Database 5.0 Document managementNT, Unix, LinuxIntegrated document management with workflow, imaging, COLD and electronic billing components $30,000 up per server
Filenet Corp.
Costa Mesa, Calif.
Panagon IDM Services 3.5E-business process automationNT, UnixAn integrated suite of products for building and publishing Web sites; includes content management, imaging, workflow, optical storage and document management$7,500 up per server
Highland Technologies Inc.
Lanham, Md.
HighView 3.04Document managementNT, Solaris Integrated document management with imaging, workflow, COLD and database management modules$1,500 per user
Hummingbird Communications Ltd.
DOCS Enterprise Suite 3.82Document managementNT, UnixIntegrated document management with workflow, imaging and document routing components$7,000 per server, $499 per seat
Hyland Software
Rocky River, Ohio
OnBase 3.52Document managementNT, UnixIntegrated document management with workflow, imaging and COLD components$5,000 up
IBM Corp.
Somers, N.Y.
EDM Suite 2.4Document managementNT, OS/2, AIXIntegrated enterprise document management suite with workflow, imaging and COLD components; links with Lotus Domino.Doc for distributed document management$18,000 up per server
I Levy & Associates Inc.
St. Louis
Navigator Advantage2000 3.5Document managementNTElectronic document management suite with workflow, imaging, COLD, Web server and CD-ROM publishing modules$50,000 up per server, $1,000 up per seat
Westborough, Mass.
COINSERV 4.0Document managementNT, Unix, AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, SCO Unix, Unisys SVR4Scalable, integrated product suite with workflow, imaging, COLD and Web-based document repository components$21,500 up
InsignIO Corp.
Stony Brook, N.Y.
BookMark2000 4.6Document managementNT, UnixIntegrated workflow, imaging and document repository suite$5,000 per server, $500 per seat

VendorProductTypeServer platformDescriptionPrice
InterTech Inc.
DocuPact 4.0Document managementNT32-bit imaging and document management system with workflow component and Web- enabled access for remote users$10,000 per server, $1,500 per license
Intranet Solutions Inc.
Eden Prairie, Minn.
Xpedio 2.0Content managementNTScalable suite with end-to-end content management, back-end library services and front-end Web services$150,000
In.Vision Research
Irvine, Calif.
949-477-2200 3.0Web content managementNT, UnixWeb-centric suite integrating documents, data and business processes for e-commerce, knowledge management and publishing applications; includes workflow, imaging, COLD and document management tools$50,000 up per server
Clearwater, Fla.
DocDepot 2.0Web process automationNTWeb reporting and delivery system with imaging and workflow components$20,000 up
Keyfile Corp.
Nashua, N.H.
Keyflow Commerce 3.2Document managementNTWeb-based document management suite that automates document storage and management tasks; scalable from departments to enterprises$9,999 up
LaserFiche Document Imaging
Torrance, Calif.
LaserFiche Document Imaging Product Suite 4.3Document managementNT Imaging product suite with workflow, COLD and development tools; scalable from single-user system to enterprise use$1,995 up
Lotus Development Corp.
Cambridge, Mass.
Domino.doc 5.0Document managementNTEnterprise document lifecycle management with imaging and storage components$11,875 per server, $107 up per seat
Newgen Software Inc.
Alexandria, Va.
Omni Enterprise 2.8Document managementNT, Unix, OS/2Enterprise document management for the Internet, intranets and extranets with a suite of workflow, imaging, Web server and COLD components$1,500 per server, $600 per seat
Optical Image Technology Inc.
State College, Pa.
Total Solution 7.0Document managementNT, UnixIntegrated COLD/ERM, image, Internet access, workflow, hierarchical storage management and data mining product suite$5,000 per server
OpenText Corp.
Waterloo, Ontario
Livelink 8.0Document managementNT, UnixCollaborative knowledge management for intranets with workflow, imaging and group scheduling modules$100 to $500 per seat
Optika Imaging Systems Inc.
Colorado Springs, Colo.
eMedia 1.5E-business process automationNTIntegrated suite of imaging, workflow and COLD products with emphasis on e-business transactions$247,000 per 100 concurrent users
OTG Software Inc.
Bethesda, Md.
XtenderSolutions Suite 4.0Document managementNTWeb-enabled document imaging, management, workflow, COLD and data storage suite$1,299 per module, $1,600 per seat
Oyster Software Inc.
Berkeley, Calif.
FormsPro 3.51Forms processingNTSuite of forms processing software with OCR/ICR, workflow and scanning components for automated document data entry$29,000 up per server, $2,000 per seat
Perceptive Vision Inc.
Lexena, Kan.
ImageNow 5.1Document managementNT, Solaris, Unix, AIX, HP-UX, DEC AlphaWeb-based imaging software with workflow components$8,000 per server
Polo International Inc.
Austin, Texas
GlobalDocs 2.0Document managementNTIntegrated document management with workflow, imaging and full-text search$10,000 up
Recognition Research Inc.
Blacksburg, Va.
FormWorks 3.5Document managementOpen systemsOpen systems environment for systems developers with process and workflow, forms scanning, forms definition editor, imaging, OCR, data validation, key entry and data output modules$100,000 up
SER Macrosoft
Rochester Hills, Mich.
Synergy/2000 1.0Document managementNTEnterprise document management with workflow, imaging and COLD components$17,990 up
Tower Technology Inc.
Tower IDM 1.0Document managementNT, UnixIntegrated document management with workflow, imaging, COLD and enterprise report management components$1,000 per user
Tower Software Corp.
Fairfax, Va.
TRIM 4.2Document managementNTIntegrated document management with workflow, imaging and COLD components$1,000 per seat
Treev Inc.
Herndon, Va.
TREEV 2000 2.3Document managementNTIntegrated document management with workflow, imaging, document report storage and COLD components$20,000 up
Universal Document Management Systems Inc.
Step2000 6.0Document managementNT, UnixObject-oriented suite with integrated workflow, imaging, document and data management components$20,000 up
Universal Systems Inc.
Chantilly, Va.
ePower 6.1Document managementNT, Unix, Mac OSIntegrated Web-centric document management suite with workflow, imaging and applications building components$12,000 per server, $200 to $700 per seat
Westbrook Technologies Inc.
Branford, Conn.
Fortis by Filemagic 1.81Document managementNT32-bit ODBC document management suite with workflow, imaging and Web portal components$2,995 up


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