A Document Management System (DMS) is an Application used to track and store electronic documents and/or images of paper documents. Alfresco DMS provides storage, versioning, metadata, security, as well as indexing and retrieval capabilities.
Alfresco Enterprise Content Management (ECM) gives companies the ability to create and manage electronic files, store documents, distribute information and process payments. Due to its modular and light‐weight architecture Alfresco ECM is highly scalable. Alfresco ECM provides horizontal scalability by having each tier in the architecture deployed on multiple servers. Similarly Alfresco ECM can scale vertically by partitioning and load balancing in a multi‐server environment.
Document Management Ecosystem
The Document Management Ecosystem consists primarily of four components– Capture, Manage, Deliver and Preserve. For Companies the focus is on the Capture and Manage components to enable Integration with Core Applications like Financial Management System.
Alfresco DMS Provides content repository for captured documents for easy search and retrieval. Alfresco DMS comes with integration capabilities with Data Capture Software like Kofax/Kodak Capture and the ability to scale to a full Records Management Solution and/or Content Management Solution.
3.1 Smart Spaces
Alfresco DMS allows the creation of smart spaces. A space is an intelligent folder which contains content as well as sub‐spaces (sub folders). Space users can perform specific actions such as editing files, adding files and discussing a particular document.
3.1.1 SPACE SECURITY
Security can be defined at the space level where you can specify a user or a group of users who may perform certain actions on documents. For example on the Underwriting space you can specify that only users of the underwriting department can add the content and other can only see the content.
3.1.2 SPACE BUSINESS RULES
Business Rules such as transforming a document from Microsoft word to adobe PDF and sending notifications when a document gets into a folder can be defined at space level.
3.1.3 SPACE WORKFLOW
Each space (folder) can have a defined document workflow. Typically a space is created for documents to be reviewed and a space for approved documents. The Alfresco DMS automatically handles the movement of the documents between the spaces.
3.1.4 SPACE EVENTS
Alfresco DMS triggers events when documents get into a space, or when content goes out of a space, or when content is modified within a space. These events can be captured at space level and trigger certain actions such as sending email notifications to certain users.
3.1.5 SPACE ASPECTS
Aspects are additional properties and behavior, which could be added to
the content, based on the space in which it resides. For example you can define
a business rule to add customer details to all policy documents in your Policy
3.1.6 SPACE DOCUMENTS
Documents in a space can be versioned, locked, checked‐in and checked‐out, and managed. You can also specify certain documents for example claim images in a space to be versioned and others not.
3.1.7 SPACE NETWORK FOLDER
A space can be mapped to a network drive on the local network thus enabling users to work with the content locally. For example the Policy Space can be mapped to all the users in the underwriting department thus enabling them to add/edit policy documents.
3.1.8 SPACE HIERARCHY
Spaces can have other spaces (sub spaces) and sub spaces can further have sub‐spaces of their own. Spaces are critical since business rules and security are defined at the space level and is applicable to all the documents and sub‐spaces underlying that space.
3.2 Content Management
Alfresco DMS allows the creation and management of various types of content (documents). Documents can be added, modified, have their properties modified, categorized, locked for editing and version controlled.
3.2.1 CREATE CONTENT
Alfresco DMS allows documents to be added using different interfaces. The web client allows the creation of inline editable documents such as HTML, Text and XML or uploading of binary files like PDF and scanned images.
3.2.2 EDIT/MOVE/COPY/DELETE CONTENT
Using the web client previously added files can be edited. In order to carry out of the activities of edit move, copy and delete the correct permission need to be assigned.
3.2.3 CONTENT PROPERTIES/METADATA
Every document in
Alfresco DMS will have properties (Metadata) associated with it. This might
include properties like Title, Description, Author, Size and Creation date. The
document metadata is used to describe its characteristics and is used a method
of describing documents thus improving access to them. Metadata for each
be edited or modified or they could be part of the workflow allowing a dynamic attach of metadata when certain documents are added to a space.
3.3 Library Services
Library service are common document management functions for controlling users with permissions to create multiple instances of a document (versioning) and check in/checkout functionality for users with access to the document.
Versioning allows the history of previous version of a document to be kept. Versioning of documents in Alfresco DMS can be enabled individually, using smart spaces where a business rule can be set for a space to allow versioning of all the content or selective content within the space, by type and globally (all documents in the DMS).
3.4 Content Categorization
Content Categorization helps to classify information in a number of ways. In Alfresco DMS all content can be linked to one or more categories. Categories can have sub‐ categories and there is no limitation on the number of categories or the depth of hierarchy.
Categorization aids in searching and the advanced search form in Alfresco DMS allow search of content based on various categories.
3.5 Business Rules
Alfresco DMS has a rules engine that allows the definition of business rules based on you requirements. This rules can be run immediately after a document has been added or in the background. Rules could be designed to:
- Automatically version documents when they are edited
- Send notifications to specified people.
- Dynamically add properties to a Document.
- Organize Documents Automatically
Rules can be applied to spaces. Whenever a document is added to a space or removed from a space or updated within a space, Alfresco DMS checks whether that space or the parent spaces have any business rule execute to execute.
Alfresco DMS maintains a full audit trails that includes the content itself, all edited versions of the content, and a full record of exactly who did what when.
Using Alfresco DMS, you can search both content and properties (Metadata). You can do the following types of searches
- Full text search on any word in content, regardless of format.
- Search content in a particular space.
- Search for content created or modified between certain dates, created by a specific person and so on.
The content as well as content properties are indexed in the search engine automatically and you can save the searches as reusable reports.
Alfresco DMS has inbuilt workflow that allows the automation of a business process, during which documents are passed from one participant to another for action. Alfresco DMS allows:
- Attaching of workflow to Spaces or documents.
- Creation of email templates and sending of email notifications when certain activities occur.
- Assign of priority, due date, reviewer and documents to workflows.
- Changing of Workflow states
- Creation of own custom advanced workflow.
Out of the Box Alfresco DMS includes two types of workflows:
- The Simple Workflow which is content‐oriented and allows the movement of documents through various spaces. It’s simple since it’s restricted to a single state.
- The Advanced Workflow Process is task oriented, where you create a task, attach documents to be reviewed and assign it to appropriate reviewers. You can track the list of tasks assigned to a specific user or tasks initiated by you. You can also change the status of the tasks, reassign the tasks to other users and cancel a task.
3.9 Imaging and Forms Processing
integrates with various images capturing systems to provide flexible and
intelligent form processing. This results in greater control and management of
crucial information and documents, within and outside the firewall. Sample
integration is provided in Appendix 2.
Alfresco DMS offers one integrated repository to manage all formats of content across document management, web content management, email and imaging repositories. The repository is a modern platform with:
- Designed to meet DOD 5015.2 Requirements
- Drag‐and‐Drop Records Management Capture from Desktop Tools ‐ Support for Microsoft® Office, Microsoft® Exchange and Open Office desktop tools through a standard Windows Explorer interface
- Automatic Metadata Extraction and Classification
- Complete auditing and workflow integration ‐ Service Oriented Audit of every service invocation to a database table with dashboard access
- Extensible Records Management Rules Support
- Automatic Long‐Term Archival Format Conversion – Automatic conversion from proprietary office formats to long‐term vendor neutral formats such as Open Document Format (ODF) and Portable Document Format (PDF)
- Simple Export for Archival
- Zero Footprint on the client in both web and client server environments
- The industry’s most scalable, standards based JSR‐170 content repository
- High‐Availability, Fault Tolerance and Scalability – Any number of machines, auto failover and clustering
- Simple to install, use and rollout
4.2 User Functionality
Users get the functionality they expect from Alfresco DMS Records Management tools as a transparent, out‐of‐sight set of services. They have:
- Fileplans ‐ Automatically classify and schedule
records based upon pre‐existing plans and standardized structures
- Type‐Base Plans ‐ Automatically classify and schedule records based upon pre‐ existing types
- Automated Lifecycle Management – Schedule, content and
meta‐data change activation based upon simple
- Automatic Document Numbering
- Retention and Archival Policies
- Disposition – Controlled and scheduled handling of archiving, holds, transfers, accessions and destruction using rules and automated processing
- Pre‐population of Meta‐Data – Impact management and automatic updates
- Dashboards – Pre‐defined reports and metadata type definitions to search and screen records due for handling and handling exceptional cases
- DOD 5015.2 Administrator Templates – To support US Department of Defense records and filing requirement for metadata definitions, fileplans and functionality
- Rapid eDiscovery – Simply search across full‐text content, fileplan structures, records management categories and types
4.3 File Plans
File Plans are a description of the plans for the following record services:
- disposition (transfer of records and/or the ultimate destruction of the record)
- Other metadata population of records. .
Records are usually grouped according to their file plan, so file plans are implemented as folders (extended spaces) with a “rma:filePlan” aspect attached. The aspect contains all the metadata definitions for implementing the life cycles of the records contained in the folders. The file plan also carries with it a set of rules for evaluating new records that are entered into the file plan.
4.3.1 VITAL RECORD INFORMATION
The rma:fileplan type can mark files stored in it as vital records. Vital records must be reviewed on a periodic basis such as annually or quarterly.
4.3.2 RECORD CUTOFF INFORMATION
Records in a file plan are cutoff periodically to simplify the handling of records for lifecycle management. File plan specifies whether the records are to be cutoff or not, what event might trigger the cutoff. The event can be a timer or a discretionary action,
i.e. obsolescence or being superseded. After being cutoff, records may be held for a period, transferred or destroyed.
4.3.3 RECORD HOLDING OR RETENTION PERIOD INFORMATION
After being cutoff, records may be held for a period of time before further disposition is handled. Normally this period is measured in years. Metadata in rma:fileplan indicates whether to process a hold or not. If a hold is not process, further disposition is handled immediately, such as destruction. A hold can be discretionary, such as after a change of command, and thus must be monitored manually. The discretionary hold flag allows the records management module to track these manual checks.
4.3.4 RECORD TRANSFER INFORMATION
After being held for the mandatory period of time or upon the lifting of a records freeze, a record manage may be transferred to a records holding area or other records retention area. The rma:fileplan determines how and where a record will be transferred and in what size blocks for organizational purposes. Upon execution of records transfer, the records and their metadata are moved to the space indicated where upon the agency can use the space export to move the records to the appropriate authority.
4.3.5 RECORD DESTRUCTION INFORMATION
If records in a file plan are to be destroyed, they are marked in the Alfresco DMS system to be permanently destroyed so that all information, metadata and physical trace is removed and cannot be recovered
Records are content items entered into a file plan. Records can be of any mime type and can be of any content type. In addition, other aspects are also allowed. Rules attached to the file plan automatically attach a “rma:record” aspect to the record and fill in metadata according to the definitions in the file plan.
life cycle is done through the file plan properties and the metadata associated
with the record. The Records Management Module adds aspects for each
stage of the lifecycle and this data, mainly dates, can be managed using the standard properties dialog, which has been extended for records aspects.
4.4.1 RECORD METADATA
The record metadata adds classification information to the record, and controls the lifecycle of the record. Some of the lifecycle behavior comes from the file plan, and some from the aspects attached to the record. According to the disposition instructions stored in the file plan, records are retained or destroyed. Aspects attached to the record can cutoff the record for processing, hold the record for future reference and ultimately either transfer the record to another authority or destroy it.
4.4.2 CAPTURING RECORD
Records can be capture using the Web client, Windows CIFS Interface and drag and drop from Microsoft Outlook into the file plan space.
4.5 Managing Record LifeCycles
When the record is entered into the repository and all record properties (from rma:record aspect) have been set, the lifecycle of the record is computed. The lifecycle determines the disposition of the record. This includes events such as when the records will be cutoff or grouped together, how long the records will be held, and what happens to the record after the hold period expires, such as being transferred to a records holding area or whether they should be destroyed.
The records management module refers to information in the file plan whenever an event occurs to a record. These events can be based upon a timed‐event such as an expiry date, an update event such as being marked obsolete or superseded, or a combination of timed and updates events.
4.5.1 ABSOLETE RECORDS
A record can be marked obsolete either manually (through the UI), or through instructions in the file plan.
4.5.2 SUPERSEDING RECORDS
One record may
supersede another. When this happens, the record that is superseded should be
marked referring to the superseding record.
4.5.3 VITAL RECORDS
If the file plan indicates that records associated with it are vital records, then a vital record review aspect is added and computed to the record. The aspect manages the previous and next review period. When the previous review is set, on update the next review period is automatically computed for the next date. This period is determined by the file plan. A report or query is used to determine which vital records in a file plan are due for review.
The cutoff of a record is determined by the definition in the file plan. If the process cutoff flag is set in the file plan, then the record is cutoff when its time has expired, if it is obsolete or if it has been superseded, depending on the information in the file plan.
4.5.5 RECORD HOLD OR RETENTION
A record may be held for a certain period of time prior to being deleted or transferred. Whether the record is held is determined by the file plan.
If after a hold, a record is to be transferred according to its file plan, then records management module automatically moves the record to a temporary holding area awaiting transfer. Typically records are transferred to a central records management location or another agency.
Accession is the transfer of records to the national records archive for permanent storage.
For records that are due for destruction, the file plan attaches a rma:destructable aspect that computes the date for destruction. This date is generally calculated after the expiry of a hold or cutoff. The aspect manages a destruction date, after which a timer process removes all traces of the record.
4.6 Record Folders
are grouped together due to sharing common cases or studies. To support this,
spaces created inside of file plans are considered Record Folders. Record
folders can store individual records that are related together. However,
information and aspects are not applied to the individual records, but to the records folder.
4.7 Records Search/Query
various records aspects is included in the search form to help search for
specific records based upon records processing information.
The Alfresco DMS repository can house all unstructured documents, regardless of the Application (e.g Finance Management system) which creates or uses that content (i.e. documents supporting a claims file, documents supporting an Invoice payment file, etc.). Alfresco DMS solution will be integrated with the Applications such that unstructured documents are stored directly to the DMS repository. In cases where the unstructured content is generated within the Application and it is not feasible to store directly to the DMS repository in real time, that content can be regularly extracted from the Application and uploaded to the Alfresco DMS repository.
5.2 Integration Technology
With change in technology, Skyplus limited have developed a REST Full Alfresco APIs bridge that can integrated with any third party application systems. This bridges provides a quick integration mechanism by providing alfresco document manipulation APIs endpoints to the parallel systems. By use of API documentation tool swagger, developers are exposed with all required parameters for integration