ACOM Adds 'Sticky Note' Functionality to Content Manager
Published: April 7, 2009
by Alex Woodie
Sometimes, success demands a sticky note. Despite the efforts of programmers to anticipate user requirements and build that functionality into a product, sometimes the capability to informally jot down a few comments for the next guy makes all the difference in the world. ACOM Solutions proved it "gets it" with the latest release of its Windows-based content management system for System i shops, EZContentManager version 3.6, which adds a digital "sticky note" capability, as well as a new viewer for reading annotated documents.
EZContentManager (EZCM) was launched three years ago as an easy-to-use suite of content management software that costs around $10,000. The suite allows users to index and archive just about any type of document--from Word and Excel files to i OS spool files and scanned paper documents--in its SQL Server-based repository. The product also includes workflow capabilities that are handy for routing documents through different people in an organization, as well as various options for using OCR scanning, linking similar documents, and accessing documents from smart phones, among other capabilities.
Compared to other content management systems on the market, EZCM lacked the capability to mark up, or annotate, the documents stored in its repository, according to Angela Doolittle, ACOM's corporate product manager.
"Customers for a long time have been asking us for a tool to annotate documents," Doolittle says. "So what we did was add this great little tool that does a number of things as far as marking up the notes or the documents. You can add little sticky notes to it. You can put rubber stamp marks on it, saying this is a copy or it's been approved. It saves all the changes, but not to the physical document, so we're maintaining integrity. Anytime that document is viewed or distributed within the EZContentManager solution, all those notes are retained."
Doolittle sees the new sticky note functionality helping people collaborate, especially when used in conjunction with EZCM's workflow routing capability.
"This would be a good tool where you can put a purchase order into the process or workflow," she says. "It goes to the first person, and they might say, 'This is fine by me, but I'd like for so and so to approve this as well.' That sticky note, or annotation, will actually travel with that document throughout the workflow, and you can see where and when everybody's made comments about the document."
In addition to adding sticky notes, EZCM brings the capability to redact information--or place obscuring little black boxes over sensitive data. This will allow users to maintain the security of Social Security numbers or credit card numbers. However, the redaction is not included once a document travels outside the organization; ACOM is working on that for the next release, Doolittle says.
Sticky notes, annotations, and redactions are displayed with a new document viewer that's available with EZCM version 3.6. The viewer renders all documents and comments in the PDF format, which was chosen because it's more familiar to people and easier for them to navigate, Doolittle says.
While the new viewer displays documents in the universally accepted PDF format, EZCM actually maintains most documents in their native format for purposes of security and integrity (although OS/400 spool files are usually stored as PDFs). EZCM customers that choose not to use the new sticky note module will continue to view documents through the product's standard browser-based client interface as JPG image files.
ACOM has moved to a modular sales approach for the EZCM suite. There is the basic EZCM module, which imports, stores, and indexes documents, and costs about $5,000 with a license for two concurrent users. The new sticky note function and viewer is another module that customers can buy.
Other optional modules include the workflow functionality; a versioning product that tracks changes to documents; a Web services interface; the EZREtrieve hot-key search functionality for accessing EZCM from ERP apps; a security tool that further restricts employee access to data; the EZImager OCR import utility; and the more advanced EZCapture that applies rules based on OCR fields.
EZContentManager 3.6 is available now. For more product information and video demos, visit www.acom.com.
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