Simple Document Management System Products to Reduce our Workloads

One turning point for our company was when we started asking ourselves what can we do to work less?

Athento is a small company. Our vision is not to be a juggernaut with thousands of employees, but rather a highly specialised team of experts in document management systems with the possibility to innovate and adapt our product at speeds that the big fish in ECM cannot match.

When your team is small, you face constant pressure of having to optimise everything you do because you don’t have the luxury of wasting time. Adapting our product for our users—large corporate clients with complex needs and processes—we started to realise that there were certain things that we always had to do and which could be:

A) Automated

B) Done in less time

C) Delegated to the client -DIY-

D) Delegated to more junior employees

Just like other start-ups or tech companies such as Mailchimp or Basecamp, when working to achieve any of the above 4 points, we’ve come across some by-products along the way. A by-product is a collateral result of doing something; product that arises from another activity. This is how Athento Rhombus came about for us. Our colleague Víctor Sanchezsaw an opportunity to simplify customisation in document management systems. Athento ECM, Nuxeo, or Alfresco require complex XML structures that the software reads in order to offer features such as formulas, workflows, and other elements. Instead of coding them manually, Víctor conceived of a user interface in which forms, searches, look & feel configuration, workflows, and more could be quickly added in a visual manner. Behind the interface, logic took care of translating these elements into the code necessary for it to be understood by document management systems.

In the case of Rhombus, Víctor chose option B. Nowadays, client customisations take 60% less time using Rhombus. Every time we have to do something that is not permitted by Rhombus, we check to see if we should run it through our special document management system translator so that the next time we have to do it, we can carry it out at least twice as fast

For those who don’t understand what’s involved in customising a document management system, I’ll give you a very simple example of how, using simple document management system products, we can facilitate not only the end users’ work, but also that of all those who work in administrating and maintaining it.

Last year, Athento published a new online service called MasterTables. Basically, MasterTables is an application that allows users without technical knowledge to keep master tables or lists with business information such as product lists, operation codes, lists of branches, user lists, or other values up-to-date.

Many of these lists tend to be modified frequently. Before MasterTables, users would contact support so that we would update these lists. We reduced the number of support tickets, but let’s look at it less from our point of view and more from the client’s point of view. We discovered that we can help them solve other problems:

  • Reuse lists: Many of these business lists have to be used in various applications. MasterTables allows them to have a single list for each of these vocabularies. The list can be used from the different tools that the client uses. What does this mean for the client? This means that they don’t have to update 4 lists if they use 4 different software tools, they only have to update one.
  • Free up clients’ tech teams: If users of the process can be in charge of maintaining these lists, we make them more autonomous and free up the client’s IT teams.
  • Reuse others’ work: There are a large number of commonly used lists that users—either technical or end users—shouldn’t have to manually input or import from other applications. For example, a list of provinces of Spain that is used in almost every form. Why should someone have to do the work of inputting them? MasterTables has over 100 already incorporated lists of frequently used values.

MasterTables reduces the time spent managing master lists by 70%. It has helped not only us, but also our end users, to work less.

In conclusion, for those of you involved in the Enterprise Content Management ecosystem (consultants, analysts, developers, project managers, etc.), always think of things that, however small they may be, can reduce the workload for you and for the end users you work for.

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About Almudena Delgado