The good thing about this blog is that I don’t really need to have answers. That is especially good since I am re-visiting the discussion about working documents versus final documents. It comes up in most every discussion about effective document management – how do I have one system that provides the functionality that I need for both working documents and final documents.
Recall from our earlier post about how creators of working documents tend to like fast and simple – a system where the user can create any collection of folders and subfolders to suit their needs and drag and drop files at will. A user of final documents requires structure and certainty because having quick access to the right documents gets the job done. However, at some point the documents in that web of active folders become the source of final documents. So, is the method of transition from one status to the other the answer, are document police the answer or should there just be two systems?
If you have a system that permits unstructured data to be worked on in a folder hierarchy of your own creation and it provides for some type of batch tagging or indexing so that when finalized the files can be easily migrated over, you might have a winner. But someone will still need to determine that the documents are final and which documents need to be retained. The user will also then need to migrate the documents to a final status and at that time, make the proper associations so that other users can find the documents. Work still needs to be done.
This could be where the document police come in. they might be responsible for knowing when a deal or project is considered complete and then they spring to action. The police make sure that the documents are tagged and indexed and migrated to the final status. The problem with this is that not all situations are large batches of files like when there is a merger or acquisition or deal of some type. In many cases it’s just a situation where the user is creating a new versions of a legal contract or PowerPoint presentation. The document police are not going to be able to keep up on all of these daily users and their working files.
Two systems is the bane of the organization and the IT department. Two systems means that there are two places to find information. Two applications to manage security. Two places to back up. Two places that may actually have the same documents. But, if the two systems can talk or share some information, even just a little information, maybe a transition method could exist. Free and Open system just needs to pull one or two pieces of information from Final system at the beginning. Then, when Free and Open system is finished, it passes those one or two bits of information to the Final system and it jump starts the identification process.
There is no right answer to this issue because every organization will function at its maximum efficiency in its own learned way. You will know that you need to change the approach only when the efficiency level is deteriorating and users start to complain or make mistakes. We are always looking at ways to help make our clients more efficient and this is one area that is constantly under discussion. We will get there and when we do, we will let you all know.