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Linking Documents and Process

August 7th, 2008 by Jacob Ukelson

I have been thinking about documents and their usage context in organizations. Knowing how a document is used is just as important as knowing the content, though today’s document repositories don’t really know the usage context for the documents they store. At best they and let user try make up the gap with tagging and descriptions. Most human centric organizational processes entail the use of various documents as a natural part of the process - either as input to the process (e.g. research or background) or output (e.g. a findings report).  So the link between documents and their process context is a natural one, and critical if you really want to understand the document.

So it is surprising to me that this hasn’t come up more as an issue in document management systems - the need to really connect documents and the flow of the human centric process that uses them - even if the process is an ad-hoc one executed (as most are) over email.

You could decide to implement all processes as a workflow in a document mangement system - but for many processes that would be overkill (especially the ad-hoc kind), would just take too long and require to many IT resources - not to mention that it would require the users learning a new way to do things. If you decide to keep the documents in a standard repository - then you lose the connection between the process that used or generated the documents - which means that you really can’t understand how the document is actually used in an organizational context…

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One Response to “Linking Documents and Process”

  1. Tom Says:

    This is an excellent point and one that, as you point out, is almost entirely missed. Vignette, and previously Intraspect, developed a collaboration technology that sits at the intersection of documents, ad-hoc or structured processes and email and is able to capture not only the artifacts but also their context.

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