Active Document Management Systems


What is a Document Management System?

Typical Document Management Systems provides the ability to upload, store, sometimes update documentation electronically.


What is an Active Document Management System?

An Active Document Management System is a much more advanced that works directly within the users’ flow of work. In addition to what a Document Management System can do, it also collects bit-sized pieces of knowledge from previous projects, and provision it into their workflow for future projects. This allows employees to store technical data from previous projects, share it across teams, languages and time, and then reuse it for future projects. It eliminates the need to remember technical data, or to sort through document vaults to find the right information.


Challenges Without Active Document Management Systems

Today, corporations attempt to rely on Document Management Systems alone to manage their knowledge, expecting it to be always current, and available across their entire enterprise. Unfortunately, Document Management Systems are often outdated and are difficult to find the right information. When this happens, these companies typically start experiencing some of these three major challenges: 

  • Valuable knowledge leaves with employees
  • Company expertise is compartmentalized
  • Knowledge is difficult to apply in context

Within each of these challenges, you will learn how these challenges can easily happen without an Active Document Management System in place. 


Industry Challenge #1: Valuable Knowledge Leaves with Employees


A Tier One component supplier was restructuring its engineering function. Almost immediately, the most senior employees elected to take early retirement rather than move to another state. Mid-level employees with innovative ideas decided to find work with local competitors rather than uproot their families. And the low-cost, off-shore contractors lacked an understanding of basic processes. The company didn’t want trade secrets walking out with employees going to new jobs. They had to find a way to keep contractors that were working on interiors from accessing advanced battery technologies. They also had to make sure that the team designing products according to one client’s specifications was kept separate from the team designing products for another.

How an Active Document Management System can solve this challenge:

  • Provided a structure for capturing the clear, complete, connectable knowledge of retiring experts
  • Organized knowledge in an accessible, active structure
  • Engaged management, employees and contractors to continuously update, align, refine and verify knowledge
  • Pushed knowledge to contractors in context
  • Provided security and selective views of information
  • Allowed work to be assessed at every step from any location
  • The use and reuse of information was made possible
  • Gave international managers productivity and performance metrics
  • Allowed company to achieve the cost savings promised by consolidation and off-shoring


Industry Challenge #2: Company Expertise is Compartmentalized


A major OEM struggled with product development design rules that were managed through a series of disconnected Excel spreadsheets and locally developed design rules databases. With design knowledge in so many places and kept in so many different formats, designers struggled with incomplete guidelines and conflicting rules. Rule maintenance, refinements, corrections, feedback, and findings required the time, energy and coordination of dozens of different departments to compare and recompile spreadsheets and databases. There was no way to get complete, correct knowledge to engineers, and the company had no process to ensure that the right rules were being correctly applied.

How an Active Document Management System can solve this challenge:

  • Implemented an enterprise-wide solution for authoring rules, sharing knowledge, and putting context-appropriate, cross-functional design rules into the hands of engineers
  • Eliminated disconnected Excel files and homegrown databases
  • Gave 6,000+ global user-base of engineers, managers and subject matter experts a consistent design rule process
  • Created an environment that allowed 1,000+ design rule authors around the world to easily document and share rules
  • Gave a global company the ability to organize around the “system V” from systems and subsystems, down to components and parts and then back up again
  • Added the ability to customize security options for creating, viewing and assessing requirements
  • Became possible to continuously reuse and refine knowledge across functions
  • Reduced design and testing time for new designs
  • Prevented recurrence of problems
  • Allowed requirements standardization across systems, subsystems and components (system V)


Industry Challenge #3: Knowledge is Difficult to Apply in Context


A large industrial manufacturer struggled with costly retooling and redesign. In addition to damaging profitability, the rework/redesign cycle slowed time to market, putting them at a competitive disadvantage. The company had a large document repository based on Excel spreadsheets, but those spreadsheets were inconsistent across programs within manufacturing. They also differed across geographical locations and had grown large and unmanageable. Keeping them up to date was a nightmare. Trying to aggregate information to give management an accurate rolled up status burned countless hours. And in the end, no matter what they did, problems were not detected until too late in the process. The issues tended to crop up in an ad hoc manner and were dealt with on case-by-case basis. Because the company had no feedback loop and no way to correct requirements documents in the repository, repeated problems were guaranteed.

How an Active Document Management System can solve this challenge:

  • Organized knowledge in an accessible, active structure
  • Engaged the engineering and design workforce to continuously update, refine and verify knowledge
  • Pushed knowledge to engineers early in the process
  • Provided a way to assess work at every step in the process
  • Ended the costly rework
  • Improved time to market and product quality
  • Enabled management oversight


Next Steps

For more information on how an Active Document Management System can solve some of the challenges your corporation is facing, download the Knowledge Aware Engineering Whitepaper, or request a complimentary live demo