Companies that use third-party applications to manage documents may have initial success. But those applications could create headaches internally, according to Steve Wilson, vice president of product at Tampa, Fla.-based Accusoft.

Wilson and colleague Dan Lee stressed this message in the CMSWire webinar, “Identify and Simplify the 4 Phases of a Document Lifecycle.” (You can watch the full webinar by clicking the icon at the end of this article.)

“Most companies have document management systems but there are still gaps,” Wilson said. “They are increasingly filled with third-party apps, but that creates headaches for IT and solutions providers. When users start to use these systems you lose control of document content. You can’t wipe data if they leave your organization. They’re leaving the user interface you’ve built for them.” 

Keep Things Internal

Lee, product manager at Accusoft, realizes that some third-party apps can be effective. But keeping things inside an internal network when it comes to document management is the better bet, he said.

Document management usually begins with a document being created or captured in a variety of places. Paper documents can be scanned in from multi-functional printers. Documents can be scanned by desktop scanners. Mobile devices take pictures of documents and bring images into the workflow. Documents could come from social media.

Organizations want to create processes that allow users to easily search and find documents in “a way that makes sense.” They can do so by creating document routing rules based on sources, content and tagging. They can take that content using those rules to route it where it needs to be into the workflow ecosystem. Tagging the content makes it “very helpful’ in this process, Lee said.

Solving the Problem

Some ways to effectively manage documents and seamlessly transfer them into the workflow include:

  1. OCR (Optical Character Recognition): The tech has been around a long time and has gotten much better, Lee said. It’s a key part of document management for a lot of businesses that are still bringing in some kind of paper, he added.
  2. Barcodes: A lot of people think of barcode as the things that come on food cans at the grocery store. But it can also be used for document routing, Lee said. 
  3. Semantic tagging engines: Lee said he sees this as a more common way to organize and connect records and documents into a workflow.
  4. One-off solutions: These can be added into existing platforms via cloud-based RESTful APIs with existing platforms.

Keep in mind that something like Google Docs can be great — but you're leaving your organization's island. “You leave your native environment,” Lee said. “We see customers tied into native environments like SharePoint, SugarCRM or Salesforce or directly into their ECM systems. This gives them more control.”

Flexible Environment


Accusoft offers suites like the Accusoft Prizm Content Connect. It helps give users the ability to review and comment on documents, retain control over original documents to make sure you have the latest version, set access rules and provide a consistent customer experience.

“We want to have this integrated into their environments,” Lee said.

Putting workflow and approval steps in place is crucial, Lee added. Who signed it? Who can work on it? Know where the document needs to go next in its journey toward approval.

“This is also important from an archival standpoint,” Lee said. 

End users should operate in an environment that offers a consistent, secure user experience that allows users to collaborate internally and externally.

Essentially, it’s all about the next step in the document lifecycle.

“How do we trigger the next process of the document workflow?” Lee asked. “It’s a very important part of the document workflow problem.”