Technology Focus: Document Management Searches for an Identity

Document Management
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Is controlling documents properly called document management, content management, records management, or something else? And can the market meet the future under this cloud of confusion?


Next to money itself, documents are the lifeblood of virtually every enterprise. Whether they are electronic or paper, documents help businesses keep track of what they are doing and where they are going. But ironically, despite this importance, document management as a product type seems to be suffering from an identity crisis.


Currently, there is a proliferation of terms relating to document management that, depending on who you talk to, are either merging into each other or have specific individual goals. Where to draw the lines is terribly unclear. A good place to start sorting this out is to try to make some formal distinctions.

Definitions in Theory

A consensus definition of document management is that it's a software system of one or several programs that helps users track and store either paper documents or images of paper documents. Included are tools for tracking different versions of similar documents, indexing and retrieving stored documents, and retrieving metadata about the documents (e.g., date, creator, topic). Also included are distribution aids and security against unauthorized access and tampering. If the system is tracking images of documents, there's a need for translating paper to electronic forms, usually called an imaging system. In addition, some kind of search mechanism is always good, an ability to integrate document information with other applications is important, a way to publish docs to, for example, the Web is terribly handy, and a means of helping workers collaborate on documents and channel that workflow is hard to do without.


That seems clear enough, but then what about records management? That term refers to maintaining business records throughout their lifecycle, from creation to destruction. The International Standards Organization has issued a standard, ISO 15489-1:2001, which defines records as "information created, received, and maintained as evidence and information by an organization or person . . . in the transaction of business" and sets out a list of duties that a Records Manager-type official of an enterprise is expected to carry out. These include identifying what information must be tracked, identifying and storing such records, enabling access to those records, and setting policies for records destruction. This seems as clear as document management's definition, and it's easy to imagine something like a hospital handling patient records and needing policies to govern all that. The problem is that, for most businesses, "records" means invoices, tax documents, bills of lading, and similar standard records that most anyone would also call a "document."


If we turn to content management for a little help, we don't really find it. Content management refers to the means and methods of collecting, managing, and publishing information. By implication, this information is in digital form, although the original content could have come from anywhere. Beyond that, content management sounds pretty much like the other two because it puts emphasis on such concepts as tracking digital files containing "content," managing multiple versions of content, publishing content to a repository, and defining workflow tasks.


As if this isn't confusing enough, in the IBM i world, at least partly due to the platform's prowess in processing database-related information, we see a traditional demand for production of reports based on business data. Despite the fact that most of these reports are documents, which are made up of content, and are often clearly business records, producing such entities is referred to by a fourth term, document automation.


It kind of makes you yearn for something easy to think about, such as how to get a room full of cats to agree on what's best for breakfast. Maybe talking to a couple of vendors will help.

Definitions in Practice

"At the end of the day, our industry has tried to come up with a nomenclature from practicality," notes Gary Langton, CEO and co-founder of Intellichief, a major document-management vendor in the IBM i market. "Companies in different industries handle the nomenclature differently. The customers are sorting through [these terms] but are still somewhat in the weeds. The real differentiators for vendors depend on the needs of the customer companies. From [the customer's perspective] what's usually most important to them is 'what are we doing with our documents electronically?' The attributes of their documents and their uses are the differentiators."


Dan Forster is president of InFORM Decisions, a vendor specializing in document automation for IBM i. "Document automation overlaps with content management," he admits, "and document management also gets into our area. We do output, distribution, and direction of documents. But [the difference is] most often about workflow: how documents are filled out and routed and what business rules are associated with those docs." And rather than defining the docs/content/records boundaries, Forster sees the most troublesome product-category boundary as being between document automation and business intelligence. "Storage and retrieval are different [among different product types], but we're specializing in grabbing whole documents and translating them to other formats, such as PDF or Excel files."


Richard Schoen is president and CTO of RJS Software, a company that defines itself as a "leading provider of document and data capture, management, distribution and security solutions." He differentiates more precisely between the three terms. "Document management is the technology for capturing and storing paper and electronic documents as well as providing intelligent access and distribution of the documents. Content management is more about managing a Web site and its various pages," but sees it as a complementary technology that "has been overlapped with document management quite often. Records management can include document management [but it's] really about managing the physical location and destruction of physical records. Document management simply incorporates the electronic elements of records management, not necessarily the managing of physical documents stored in a warehouse."


So, it seems even these three significant IBM i software vendors don't entirely agree on where to draw the lines between the document/content/records/automation terms. Where they seem to agree more is that in a climate where the market's customers may have trouble making differentiations, it's good to offer individualized approaches to try and meet the market's needs.


"We [document-related vendors in the IBM i market used to have] our niches but we all do a little bit of everything now to survive," admits Forster. Langton agrees in principle with an example. "We have some records-management components in our software, although in some parts of records management we don't play as strongly as vendors who specialize in records management." Schoen says RJS tries to stay ahead of customer needs with features such as electronic signature capture and Web forms. "These technologies are just starting to hit their stride, and our customers are starting to see the benefits of this technology," Schoen reports, which RJS implemented two or three years ago. "We implemented some key records management functionality into our WebDocs product several years ago so that electronic documents can be located, viewed, and expired with ease from within our software," he adds.


Despite such differentiations, the verdict for now seems to be that, yes, the management of documents, records, and  content, and the automation of information distribution all seem to be heading for a similar goal. What that goal is eventually may or may not be synonymous with business intelligence and may or may not eventually be referred to by any one of these terms—or even a totally new one, though for simplicity's sake we'll continue referring to it here as document management. So perhaps a more fruitful question is to ask where document management as a product type is heading.

Document Management's Future in the i Market

When asked about the future of document management for the i, all three software executives have somewhat differing visions.


"Our biggest demand is to help 'bring it all together,'" remarks Langton, "Playing nicely with all platforms, integrating all applications, minimizing the costs of training users. Most of our [customer] requests are for helping change the way companies process their documents."


Forster sees the biggest challenge as document-format standardization. "[Vendors and customer companies] have to decide what standards we want to work with. IPDF is going away since IBM sold that division to Ricoh. PCL-compatible printers are dominating the i market now, so the standard formats are getting to be PDF and Excel, and more vendors are providing those as output options."


"MICR check-printing is also going away," Forster adds, "as electronic payments are taking over. On the horizon I see XML (eXtensible Markup Language) because it gets us away from thinking about documents as graphics. Formless docs are the future. [Even today] we don't need the paper doc, but [people still find it] easier to understand."


Schoen differs. "I think more and more products will need to take advantage of mobile technologies, document signing, and Web-based data capture. We're seeing a trend away from scanned paper documents into system-generated or online-entered documents. That trend will continue as the younger 'digital natives' continue entering the work force."


What about the i as a platform for future document-management products? All three corporate leaders still see hope for the future.


"Off-the-shelf, plug-and-play solutions aren't strong in the i market, which needs stuff that works with existing ERP and other software, such as J.D. Edwards," Langton feels.


"We're always asking ourselves if we should continue developing native apps," opines Forster. "And other companies are doing open-platform software that runs on the i. But native versions are faster and more efficient."


"We are still strongly supporting all of our i-based products," Schoen agrees. "There are still many customers who believe that a native application on IBM i is better than its Java- or Windows-based counterparts."


Of course, all three are keeping a weather eye on cross-platform opportunities. Schoen sums it up best: "As much as we love the IBM i platform, we have to offer solutions for all platforms to remain competitive, especially when customers change platforms."

Social Media and Document Management

What role might social media play in the future of document management? If exchanging information is the general goal, surely social media is going to have its place. Schoen agrees, but Langton and Forster aren't so sure.


"As technologies meld, it's hard to stake out boundaries," Langton notes. "Customers are still trying to figure out how to use it, especially with the Web. They can see potential in their organizations but haven't yet identified the best uses of social media. There aren't a lot of specific requirements in that area yet but a lot of potential answers." Eventually, that will change, he concedes. "Facebook or Google will be the next Evil Empire displacing Microsoft," Langton predicts.


Forster is even more pessimistic. "We're not seeing anything [behind] a need to get involved with social media [except that] customers think their competitors are [using it]. It's what all the consultants are telling [them and us]. But [for example] I'm having trouble wrapping my head around a business need for Twitter. Two or three lines? What's the value for our marketplace except that it appeals to younger users?"


But it may ultimately depend on how it's used, he concedes. "I can see Facebook for personal use, but it's difficult to get people to think about it as a business communication, and I think it's unprofessional to show employees' personal lives [in a business context]. LinkedIn and [realtime] discussion groups are OK, but we still don't see demand for this," Forster concludes.


Schoen is more optimistic. "Since social media is content that companies may want to archive and also track, I believe it will play a more important role in document, content, and records management. We are currently working on technologies to capture information from social media outlets for archival and distribution purposes. Social media has driven quite a few new sales for our organization and helps keep our employees connected as well."

Today's Market Players

There are a number of document management solutions for the IBM i, the major ones of which are summarized below. Please bear in mind that the descriptions offered for each product are simply summaries of the most pertinent features and are in no way a complete description of each product's capabilities. You should consult the links provided and other documentation available from the respective vendors to get a true picture of each product's feature set. 


And as always when looking for products or services, be sure to check the MC Press Online Buyer's Guide.

Document Management Solutions for IBM i




EZ Content Manager helps users manage content via document depositories, version controls, subscription and notification lists, PDF conversion, audit reports, and custom archiving and retention policies.


EZeDOCS is an electronic-forms design and document-delivery system that helps users create invoices, purchase orders, reports, checks, forms, and other business documents without requiring pre-printed forms or custom programming. Documents produced can be printed or distributed electronically as fax or email messages.




Captiva includes modules for scanning and capturing documents from scanners, faxes, emails, multifunction devices, and other digital sources. It also delivers intelligent document recognition, data capture, business rules recognition, and data capture from tables. It also provides a browser interface, automatic document indexing, data encryption, and audit trails.


InFORM Decisions




The iDocs solution monitors output queues and routes reports and other documents to recipients based on predefined business rules.


iMap helps users map spooled data to correction locations on forms and reports, sorts and collates/decollates options for all reports and docs, and retrieves routing information from databases and spooled files.


SmartRouter automates filtering and distribution requirements for reports, forms, spooled files, and other business documents.




IntelliChief offers forms processing, electronic forms creation, document search and retrieval, doc printing, and a workflow engine. It supports document imaging and distribution that works with imaged docs, e-docs, faxes, and emails.


Inventive Designers

Scriptura Engage

Scriptura Engage provides centralized content storage, document creation, design and production of customer communications, and control of output processes. It also features security, regulatory compliance tools, and the ability to handle multiple languages and business logic in the same document template.


ITM Associates


The inFusion suite of products, designed for use with IBM's Lotus Notes/Domino, includes inFusion eForms, which is a workflow solution for creating and routing of electronic forms, and PDF inFusion eReview, which supports online, real-time collaborative review of documents and graphics in files using the PDF format.



ECM Suite, Content Lifestyle Management

The ECM Suite offers content management tools for the entire lifecycle of enterprise content. It includes features for records management, workflow processes, imaging, and intelligent storage management within a single enterprise repository.


RJS Software


Enterprise Workflow

Scan Workstation


DeliverNow is a document automation solution that monitors, converts, and delivers reports, forms, and other documents from business applications on any platform. It can take reports from IBM i spooled files and AIX/Linux/Windows apps and convert them into a variety of file formats.


Enterprise Workflow manages and routes documents in a Web environment, lets users build workflows, enables control of user access, and generates audit trails of all activities.


Scan Workstation digitizes and stores all documents electronically, using any Twain- or Kofax-compliant scanner. It also enables passing of any document values into other applications.


WebDocs is a browser-based document-management system that lets users digitally manage, store, and distribute all business content. The vendor offers both a server-based version of the software and a cloud-based service offering that uses the product.


S4i Systems

S4i Express

S4i Express is browser-based and handles electronic forms, preprinted forms, spooled files, and server documents. It captures, separates, indexes, bundles, and delivers or archives reports and documents. Output formats include PDF, HTML, Excel, Word, and others.


Vanguard Systems


IMS-21 offers scanning, archiving, storing, backup, and retrieving of business documents. It also links documents to software applications and provides a workflow module.

John Ghrist

John Ghrist has been a journalist, programmer, and systems manager in the computer industry since 1982. He has covered the market for IBM i servers and their predecessor platforms for more than a quarter century and has attended more than 25 COMMON conferences. A former editor-in-chief with Defense Computing and a senior editor with SystemiNEWS, John has written and edited hundreds of articles and blogs for more than a dozen print and electronic publications. You can reach him at



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    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericDuring this webinar, you’ll learn basic tips, helpful tools, and integrated file system commands—including WRKLNK—for managing your IFS directories and Access Client Solutions (ACS). We’ll answer your most pressing IFS questions, including:

    • What is stored inside my IFS directories?
    • How do I monitor the IFS?
    • How do I replicate the IFS or back it up?
    • How do I secure the IFS?

    Understanding what the integrated file system is and how to work with it must be a critical part of your systems management plans for IBM i.


  • Expert Tips for IBM i Security: Beyond the Basics

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access

    Don't miss this chance to take your knowledge of IBM i security beyond the basics.



  • 5 IBM i Security Quick Wins

    SB PowerTech WC GenericIn today’s threat landscape, upper management is laser-focused on cybersecurity. You need to make progress in securing your systems—and make it fast.
    There’s no shortage of actions you could take, but what tactics will actually deliver the results you need? And how can you find a security strategy that fits your budget and time constraints?
    Join top IBM i security expert Robin Tatam as he outlines the five fastest and most impactful changes you can make to strengthen IBM i security this year.
    Your system didn’t become unsecure overnight and you won’t be able to turn it around overnight either. But quick wins are possible with IBM i security, and Robin Tatam will show you how to achieve them.

  • How to Meet the Newest Encryption Requirements on IBM i

    SB PowerTech WC GenericA growing number of compliance mandates require sensitive data to be encrypted. But what kind of encryption solution will satisfy an auditor and how can you implement encryption on IBM i? Watch this on-demand webinar to find out how to meet today’s most common encryption requirements on IBM i. You’ll also learn:

    • Why disk encryption isn’t enough
    • What sets strong encryption apart from other solutions
    • Important considerations before implementing encryption



  • Security Bulletin: Malware Infection Discovered on IBM i Server!

    SB PowerTech WC GenericMalicious programs can bring entire businesses to their knees—and IBM i shops are not immune. It’s critical to grasp the true impact malware can have on IBM i and the network that connects to it. Attend this webinar to gain a thorough understanding of the relationships between:

    • Viruses, native objects, and the integrated file system (IFS)
    • Power Systems and Windows-based viruses and malware
    • PC-based anti-virus scanning versus native IBM i scanning

    There are a number of ways you can minimize your exposure to viruses. IBM i security expert Sandi Moore explains the facts, including how to ensure you're fully protected and compliant with regulations such as PCI.



  • Fight Cyber Threats with IBM i Encryption

    SB PowerTech WC GenericCyber attacks often target mission-critical servers, and those attack strategies are constantly changing. To stay on top of these threats, your cybersecurity strategies must evolve, too. In this session, IBM i security expert Robin Tatam provides a quick recap of IBM i security basics and guides you through some advanced cybersecurity techniques that can help you take data protection to the next level. Robin will cover:

    • Reducing the risk posed by special authorities
    • Establishing object-level security
    • Overseeing user actions and data access




  • 10 Practical IBM i Security Tips for Surviving Covid-19 and Working From Home

    SB PowerTech WC GenericNow that many organizations have moved to a work from home model, security concerns have risen.

    During this session Carol Woodbury will discuss the issues that the world is currently seeing such as increased malware attacks and then provide practical actions you can take to both monitor and protect your IBM i during this challenging time.


  • How to Transfer IBM i Data to Microsoft Excel

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_Generic3 easy ways to get IBM i data into Excel every time
    There’s an easy, more reliable way to import your IBM i data to Excel? It’s called Sequel. During this webinar, our data access experts demonstrate how you can simplify the process of getting data from multiple sources—including Db2 for i—into Excel. Watch to learn how to:

    • Download your IBM i data to Excel in a single step
    • Deliver data to business users in Excel via email or a scheduled job
    • Access IBM i data directly using the Excel add-in in Sequel

    Make 2020 the year you finally see your data clearly, quickly, and securely. Start by giving business users the ability to access crucial business data from IBM i the way they want it—in Microsoft Excel.



  • HA Alternatives: MIMIX Is Not Your Only Option on IBM i

    SB_HelpSystems_WC_GenericIn this recorded webinar, our experts introduce you to the new HA transition technology available with our Robot HA software. You’ll learn how to:

    • Transition your rules from MIMIX (if you’re happy with them)
    • Simplify your day-to-day activities around high availability
    • Gain back time in your work week
    • Make your CEO happy about reducing IT costs

    Don’t stick with a legacy high availability solution that makes you uncomfortable when transitioning to something better can be simple, safe, and cost-effective.



  • Node Webinar Series Pt. 1: The World of Node.js on IBM i

    SB Profound WC GenericHave you been wondering about Node.js? Our free Node.js Webinar Series takes you from total beginner to creating a fully-functional IBM i Node.js business application.
    Part 1 will teach you what Node.js is, why it's a great option for IBM i shops, and how to take advantage of the ecosystem surrounding Node.
    In addition to background information, our Director of Product Development Scott Klement will demonstrate applications that take advantage of the Node Package Manager (npm).
    Watch Now.

  • The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security

    SB Profound WC Generic The Biggest Mistakes in IBM i Security
    Here’s the harsh reality: cybersecurity pros have to get their jobs right every single day, while an attacker only has to succeed once to do incredible damage.
    Whether that’s thousands of exposed records, millions of dollars in fines and legal fees, or diminished share value, it’s easy to judge organizations that fall victim. IBM i enjoys an enviable reputation for security, but no system is impervious to mistakes.
    Join this webinar to learn about the biggest errors made when securing a Power Systems server.
    This knowledge is critical for ensuring integrity of your application data and preventing you from becoming the next Equifax. It’s also essential for complying with all formal regulations, including SOX, PCI, GDPR, and HIPAA
    Watch Now.

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  • Backup and Recovery on IBM i: Your Strategy for the Unexpected

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates the routine tasks of iSeries backup and recovery, saving you time and money and making the process safer and more reliable. Automate your backups with the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution. Key features include:
    - Simplified backup procedures
    - Easy data encryption
    - Save media management
    - Guided restoration
    - Seamless product integration
    Make sure your data survives when catastrophe hits. Try the Robot Backup and Recovery Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Manage IBM i Messages by Exception with Robot

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Managing messages on your IBM i can be more than a full-time job if you have to do it manually. How can you be sure you won’t miss important system events?
    Automate your message center with the Robot Message Management Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated message management
    - Tailored notifications and automatic escalation
    - System-wide control of your IBM i partitions
    - Two-way system notifications from your mobile device
    - Seamless product integration
    Try the Robot Message Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Easiest Way to Save Money? Stop Printing IBM i Reports

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413Robot automates report bursting, distribution, bundling, and archiving, and offers secure, selective online report viewing.
    Manage your reports with the Robot Report Management Solution. Key features include:

    - Automated report distribution
    - View online without delay
    - Browser interface to make notes
    - Custom retention capabilities
    - Seamless product integration
    Rerun another report? Never again. Try the Robot Report Management Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • Hassle-Free IBM i Operations around the Clock

    SB HelpSystems SC 5413For over 30 years, Robot has been a leader in systems management for IBM i.
    Manage your job schedule with the Robot Job Scheduling Solution. Key features include:
    - Automated batch, interactive, and cross-platform scheduling
    - Event-driven dependency processing
    - Centralized monitoring and reporting
    - Audit log and ready-to-use reports
    - Seamless product integration
    Scale your software, not your staff. Try the Robot Job Scheduling Solution FREE for 30 days.

  • ACO MONITOR Manages your IBM i 24/7 and Notifies You When Your IBM i Needs Assistance!

    SB DDL Systems 5429More than a paging system - ACO MONITOR is a complete systems management solution for your Power Systems running IBM i. ACO MONITOR manages your Power System 24/7, uses advanced technology (like two-way messaging) to notify on-duty support personnel, and responds to complex problems before they reach critical status.

    ACO MONITOR is proven technology and is capable of processing thousands of mission-critical events daily. The software is pre-configured, easy to install, scalable, and greatly improves data center efficiency.