Cloud EDMS Software for Engineering Projects

Posted by Steven Gentles on Jul 6, 2017 4:55:44 PM

If you order a ‘Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, No Whip’ at Starbucks, you KNOW EXACTLY what you’re getting because you exactly described it.

Coffee-Mug-Cloud-EDMS-Software-for-Engineering-Projects.jpg

On the other hand, the term ‘EDMS’ (and even ‘Cloud’ and ‘Engineering Projects’ to a lesser degree) is a woollylabel that confounds (note: the EDMS acronym is almost universally accepted to stand for ‘Electronic Document Management System’ the features and focus of which is broad and varied).

Let’s examine each term in turn so that we’re all on the same page.

Cloud

There’s lots of general information out there explaining what the cloud is and how it works (for a quick primer, check out this short blog: Too Embarrassed to Ask – What Is 'The Cloud' and How Does It Work?). In a nutshell, cloud software means:

  • You don’t need to own any IT assets (hardware, rooms or people)
  • Your information is stored and taken care of by the software provider
  • You use the software to access your information when connected to the internet
  • You can access your information on any device

You can find a bit more detail in my blog 10 Questions to Answer Before Buying Document Control Software (see question 9).

Let’s sharpen the focus: what about documents (electronic files) and the cloud? In 2007, Dropbox burst onto the scene paving the way for Enterprise File Sharing and Synchronization (EFSS). In general, EFSS cloud software allows the user to:

  • Store and organize their files in folders just like Windows (an approach pioneered by the vertical filing cabinet invented over 120 years ago)
  • Share their files or folders with others without having to email them (or USB stick ‘em)
  • Keep files and folders synchronized between the cloud and all the user’s devices (mobility)

The latter feature means that any time a folder is added or a file is saved on one device, changes are automatically updated and reflected everywhere else. If you have no life like me, this ensures that the file you were authoring on your work laptop will be automatically reflected to your home PC and ready for you to continue work when you get home.

Ten years after Dropbox, there are now a TON of EFSS options out there – check out this Gartner article Reviews for Content Collaboration Platforms (formerly EFSS). Note that Gartner has changed the label from EFSS to ‘Content Collaboration Platform’. No doubt this is due to EFSS software feature growth beyond file storage/sharing/synchronization into file collaboration.

EDMS Software

EDMS is a commonly accepted acronym for Electronic Document Management Software. I’ve also seen the following acronym definitions:

  • Engineering Document Management System
  • Enterprise Document Management System

No doubt there are more…

The foundation of any EDMS software is:

  • Search – beyond file folder hierarchies
  • Access – controlled by user and/or group
  • Versioning – file locking during authoring and version preservation
  • Workflow – a way to move them through your business process

Secondary features might include:

  • Collaboration
  • Capture (paper document imaging, email attachment importation, etc)
  • Integrations
  • Reproduction (printing)

Document Management Software is a term that has been around since the 80’s (i.e. forever). EDMS solutions have deeper foundational features than cloud EFSS (er – Content Collaboration Platform) solutions and are typically developed and offered as on-premise (installed) software with few cloud benefits.

Engineering Projects

Engineering projects are all about the scheduled delivery of engineering work packages. And every engineering work package is made up of one or more engineering documents each of which has to be authored, reviewed, approved, released and distributed in an environment that requires tight project control and document control (see my blog What is Document Control? for more information). Joint ventures are common and the team is often globally dispersed.

In addition to EFSS and EDMS features, engineering projects require:

  • Deeper Search – Engineers revise and reuse files and documents A LOT. Finding information quickly boosts productivity and cuts project costs (see my blog Calculating Project Control Software? Start With File Search).
  • Deeper File Access Control – The ability to control who can do what and when is required. For example, Engineers should only be able to author information, Document Controllers should only be able to release it AND the shop floor view released information.
  • Robust Security Framework – Joint Ventures require tight control of users and their devices
  • Document Numbering – The ability to create numbering schemas to automatically assign numbers to drawings, specs, reports, etc
  • Communication Framework – Document centric discussion boards, chat capabilities and automated notifications
  • Version AND Revision Management – A revision marks a release point for a document. All in work versions will be tied to the released version and a complete version AND revision history will be available (all tied together by the document number)
  • Lifecycle Delineation – Cradle to grave (In Work to Archive) document lifecycle states which are the foundation for file access control
  • Transmittal Management – Features that streamline the controlled distribution of engineering project work packages (document deliverables)
  • Vendor Data Management – Features that streamline the tracking and review of vendor documents
  • Project Tracking and Monitoring – Features that provide insight into the real time status of engineering work packages (document deliverables) throughout the project

Most of these engineering specific features are discussed in more depth in my 3 Part blog series: Document Control Software: What Do You Want to Control? 

Tina5s is Cloud EDMS (+) for Engineering Projects

Tina5s provides EDMS features on an EFSS platform with additional features that engineering projects need as described above.

If you’re ordering Tina5s, ask your software barista for:

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And Tina5s costs way less than a 'Venti Iced Skinny Hazelnut Macchiato, Sugar-Free Syrup, Extra Shot, Light Ice, No Whip' each day for every one of your users. If you'd like to know more:

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Topics: Document Control

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