As private clouds become more pervasive, organizations must answer questions about how each may be used in their ongoing business.
A "private cloud" is loosely defined as having a shared drive in the cloud, but with a couple of notable exceptions. The most visible exception revolves around the ability to apply corporate policies to the documents that live in the private cloud. This includes access, read/write and backup. Others revolve around security and functionality.
A document management solution is loosely defined as being able to scan, store and retrieve documents that are a part of a business process. For instance, a typical document management system is used to manage invoice processing. The document arrives in the organization, is compared to a line of business application, and the stored for future reference. In many cases, document management is used to support a transactional business process rather collaboration or information sharing.
In many organizations, each of these concepts crosses over into the other's realm, depending on the organization's size. Small companies can use cloud file sharing capabilities to manage invoice processing, for instance. While the document will not be proactively moved through a process, it will be up to the staff members to know to look into a specific folder on a regular basis to see if something new has arrived. For a document management system, if an invoice comes into an organization, automatic notifications are sent making the person aware of a new document that must be addressed.
For other organizations, document management is used to share documents between the company as well as with outside vendors. A portal can be built that sits on top of the document management application that ultimately enables outside sources (vendors, customers, etc.) to access relevant information. While this is how an organization enables information sharing between organizations, it is non-ideal and requires a significant administrative infrastructure investment.
Yes. Most organizations can actually benefit by having both applications within their application suite. For providing standardized content to a broad range of users and individuals, the private cloud is ideally suited for these activities. You can easily govern who sees what, and how the document is controlled. It is inherent to its technical capabilities, and requires little or no support, other than standard administrative processes.
As for document management (whether in the cloud or not), the benefits can be quite dramatic and easy to measure. Document management eliminates the need to distribute documents for an approval process, or just being able to find a document without having to know anything about the document itself (available through searches). It is typically a business process improvement tool, eliminating costs through the streamlining of a specific process.
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