Whether you are an SME business, mutli-national corporation or home user, solid document control is crucial. This article is an unbiased guide to getting the most out of your investment - be it time or money.
A huge amount of time by everyone is devoted to generating online, and electronic documention, and source code. Protecting this investment, be it IP or internal development, is crucial to any successful organisation. Selecting the right controlled document environment effects everyone from managers to engineers, and marketing through to manufacturing, and so the decision over which package to use should not just be left to management or the IT department.
Assessing your organisations requirements is the first step. Documentation control comes in a variety of forms, including:
- Basic revision management tools with the sole function of keeping a documents history
- Complex whole-orgnaisation management tools including CRM and ECR functions
- Modular tools that fit together to form a coherent system that can grow with your business
Selecting the right package for the right organisation is essential as the initial cost of training, and installation may take years to get a return on. That said, SMEs and individuals who select a basic solution will often find the migration path to a larger system easier than the reverse.
When assessing you companies needs, look at the whole team - not just one division - as it should be at the very least compatible with how your departments operate. When assessing your requirements, look closely at the following:
- What documents should and/or must be controlled
- you should aim to control all of your formal documenation, not just customer facing source code, or IP related technology
- Raw rext files (e.g. source code, webpages, XML schematics) are usually preferred over binary files (e.g. word-documents, PDFs)
- Pay special attention to binary files that need controlling (e.g. executables, PDF documents, etc). Some control software have clever ways to deal with specific binaries (e.g. third-party MS Office plugins) - these will make your chosen system more accessible to users.
- What operating systems need to be supported
- Whilst most packages claim to be cross-platform, check that the Linux, Mac and Solaris support meets your requirements
- As expected x86 Windowsis the most supported platform, but as businesses grow it is likely that the base platforms will increase too
- From a server perspective, it is also worth noting the current server room configuration and capacity
- In addition to the main control software, back up mechanisms, and redundant servers should also be considered
- What is the size and primary focus?
- SME organisations will have vastly different requirements to large multi-national corporations.
- A small company may not want the costs associated with a large scale deployment of change-management servers, and their associated running costs
- Conversely, a large corporation may feel that their business becomes dangerously unmanageable with a small slim-server approach
- Company types will also change how document control is seen, for example
- Manufacturing companies will likely want a system that controls every aspect of production, and allows a multi-tiered approach to organising, and stream-lining the processes
- Software development houses will likely want a system that ensures each stepping of software is bug-free, and meets the growing needs of their customer base
- Art houses will likely want a system that looks after their core artwork, and organises it in a way that encourages sharing and careful control on the resources
- What is in place already?
- For many organisations, controlled documentation may not be a new concept, but an evolving business should always be encouraged to re-examine their requirements to see if their selection is still the best fit for their organisation
- Other organisations could still be early on in their IT oganisation, preferring to leave the costs involved with IT infrastructure to an external company (e.g. Webmail)
Whatever your current requirements, and whatever your budget, there is a revision control tool out there for you. Once your requirements have been crystalised it is time to consider the alternatives.
When your business is ready, contact
for help with your requirements.