A new Portuguese-based document management software provider has come up with what has to be one of the cheapest -- if not the cheapest -- product on the market.

With a release date sometime around the end of September, e-grou’s Free Edition is exactly what it says – free, and while you may think that this will just be a kind of glorified file exchange, the company insists that this is a real SaaS document management system.

Aimed at small organizations that cannot afford a document management system, but who still need one to do business, the free edition can integrate with Microsoft Office and comes with AutoCAD connectors, which might offer a clue as to the industries they are targeting.

Visual WebGUI

E-grou’s principal product is a document management system for enterprises, especially those with an engineering or product design focus or background.

Since at least October 2008, they have been offering this product, which comes with a Visual WebGUI (VWG). Before that they haven’t really advertised what they have been about at all, even though the company says it has been in the business for ten years.

However they have been busy, launching a new company website in June to showcase a number of different products that are currently on sale -- as opposed to the forthcoming free edition, which it says, will contain many of their existing document management features.

Since the website launch they have set up a number of forums, and just as you would expect with something so recently established, there are only a handful of entries to date.

SaaS Document Management

The free edition will borrow from the existing SaaS Professional Edition whose principal features, apart from the fact that users can access system remotely through a web browser, fall into two categories: mail management and workflow management.

Mail Management

The mail management feature combines the document management software with mail management capabilities, including not only the ability to manage emails and their attachments, but also the ability to scan and ingest ‘snail’ mail as well.

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Document management

It also includes the ability to search for any ingested documents -- email, or snail mail -- within a unified environment, which can be routed to anywhere within an enterprise, as well as to any user working remotely.

Mail management features that come with the professional edition include:

  • Dynamic organization of mail registers according to administrator defined criteria
  • Document digitalization and association of all related documents to a mail register with location of physical documents noted for documents that have been ingested
  • Import mails directly from Outlook and association of such emails to a relevant mail register
  • Route mail within your organization and visualize the progress status of your mail routing

Workflow Management

The other principal feature that appears in the Professional Edition and which will be reflected in the free edition is the workflow management.

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Document tracking feature

In this case, the workflow management aims to allow users and e-grou administrators to define tasks and create workflows to automate document business processes.

There are two kinds of workflow features available here:

  • Ad-hoc workflows where users can distribute documents across the system according to their own directions, which will be used when structured processes have yet to be implemented.
  • Structured workflow where all tasks are predefined and also who is going to perform them. One or more structured workflows may be associated with a document type.

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Checking in to specified vaults

There is also an audit trail available with this feature which will indicate where the document was sent, who sent it, what work has been done and who did that work. Standard stuff really.

As to what individual elements, or entire features, will be made available in the free edition later this month is not yet clear, but they have said that the collaboration abilities, search functions, remote access to registers and audit trail feature will be included.

As yet the company has given no definitive date for its launch except to say that it will be the end of September and has created a registration page on its site for companies that wish to sign up.