Active Document Management as opposed to Passive Document Management.

Everyone has heard of DMS (Document Management Systems) and many people use some form of DMS or another.

The problem in today’s data-driven world where speed and accuracy are paramount in business, normal Document Management Systems just don’t go far enough. They are mostly passive systems where users have to check documents in and out, lock and unlock them and send them around for approvals/editing before they can be used. The minute someone downloads a document, you lose control over it. Anybody can change it and forward it without checking it back in.

When managing large complex projects or contracts that have been outsourced, not only do the company’s own staff require access to documents, but so do other stakeholders such as financiers, suppliers, contractors, consultants, architects, and so forth. Then the workflows, access rights, amendments, etc. become much more complex and can result in delays and errors if not managed properly.

This set of contract documents defines ALL aspects of any contract with a supplier or third party and may include:

  1. Contract terms and conditions (Agreement)
  2. Technical specifications or requirement
  3. Drawings/designs
  4. Milestone schedules
  5. Standards
  6. Pricing information
  7. Inspection, acceptance and commissioning protocols

Each document can include information that:

  1. Defines what has to be delivered
  2. When it is to be delivered
  3. How it is to be delivered
  4. What standards apply
  5. How and when payment will be made
  6. The contractual terms and conditions, etc.

Therefore it is these documents that define and drive the process as they contain all the information relating to the requirement and agreement for the project.

More recent solutions focussing on the Project and Contract Management fields have what could be called Active DMS with iNtelligent Documents. These solutions contain intelligent documents with active clauses that can actually trigger events such as upcoming delivery notifications, track and manage compliance of specifications, milestone schedule tracking and monitoring, pricing variations, etc.

As the document defines the project, it contains (or should contain) the most accurate and up-to-date information and therefor should drive the process. Any changes to the document (agreement between the parties – whether technical or contractual of nature) should immediately update the process as well.

As your documents (agreement, specifications, etc.) drive the process, this means that any changes need to be managed and agreed by all relevant stakeholders and – once agreed – any necessary changes to the process are then triggered. Therefore changes/adjustments are FIRST documented and agreed before they are implemented. This way disputes at a later date are avoided. Also, these changes are contained in the ORIGINAL and ONLY document (there are no other copies) and not in some appendix or email which can be lost.

The iNtelligent documents can, therefore, include, amongst others, the following automated functions:

  1. Record and manage changes/approvals and notify all relevant stakeholders
  2. Notify internal and external stakeholders of upcoming milestones and deliverables
  3. Track and manage project progress (compliance, deliverables, and milestones)
  4. Calculate and track financial penalties for late delivery (if applicable)
  5. Trigger the necessary approvals
  6. Validate supplier responses (during tendering)
  7. Automated comparison of vendor responses (during tendering)
  8. Track non-c0mpliance of any specification or item
  9. Trigger automated notifications for reviews, reporting and other project functions
  10. Track acceptance, inspection, and commissioning results and the associated punch-lists

This way the documents (agreements) manage the process and not the other way around. Therefore any discrepancy is in the delivery rather than in the agreement – which is how it should be – and as all stakeholders (including the supplier/contractor) have transparent access to all relevant documents at all times, collaboration is more efficient and administration is minimal.