by Rakesh Sharma
Published on 9 February 2012
Documents are the bane of a technical writer's life. We produce, edit, and write them. After all this hard work, we shepherd them to stakeholders through work flows to make sure they are accurate and timely. Whilst the process may sound simple, it can be pretty tedious and difficult.
This week's solution - Cabinet NG Online Document Management solution - promises to make this job easier. According to its developers, CNG consolidates your documents into a single filing environment making it easier for you to retrieve, manage, and assign workflows to your documents. This week, we look at CNG Safe's features, interface, and see how it can be of use to you.
CABINET NG AND YOU
Document management software remains vastly under-appreciated as solutions. However, case studies on Cabinet NG's website illustrates areas where they can actually make a difference. Thus, in addition to improving efficiencies in operations, Cabinet NG can also make a difference in completely unrelated areas such as human resources!
Onto the solution, however.
The interesting thing about CNG's document consolidation is that it mimics a real-world filing structure. Remember those drawers and file cabinets stacked with documents? CNG-SAFE is an automated version of the same.
This means that documents are organized into repositories, which are then organized into cabinets and individual (or groups) of files. Apart from implementing a robust filing structure, the solution also makes it easy for you to scan and introduce documents into a workflow. Files can be uploaded directly from Windows Explorer through a panel that displays folders from within the product. Files can be printed directly to CNG by using a proprietary Windows printer driver.
Templates can be created that have pre-established metadata tags for quicker uploading of files. You can also assign permission/security levels to a single document or groups of documents. I thought the preview feature, which provides snapshots of documents, was especially useful. It does not require a copy of the authoring software (i.e. Autocad, MS Excel, …) in order to view a document. This is particularly valuable for your mobile employees.
CNG-SAFE is a horizontal solution (meaning it can be deployed in many different types of businesses). It requires some initial setup and configuring to match the workflows for your particular business. Once the document is in the system and has been assigned a permission level, you can configure automatic work flows for it, thus saving invaluable time. Manual workflows can be routed between stakeholders based on business rules.
CNG-SAFE also integrates with third party applications such as Microsoft Office, ACT!, TigerPaw, and many other Windows and web applications, enabling you to create and save documents in CNG-SAFE from these applications. All documents are stored in their native formats. The CNG-SAFE dashboard offers a series of panels that include recently viewed cabinets, workflows, scheduled "to do" tasks and a bookmark feature that lets users select a series of documents/folders for one-click access. CNG-SAFE also has a unique "speed bar" that provides one-button access to email, document routing, file exporting, printing and file combining.
THE BASICS: WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
Considering its interface, CNG Safe seems to have been designed pretty thoughtfully. It has a WYSIWYG interface that consists of multiple tabs and two panels. The side panel enables global navigation while the top panel enables you to look at specific documents. What's more, the solution also incorporates a document preview (much like Microsoft Outlook). That said, the interface could do with less clutter and more visual appeal in the form of icons and easy navigation. While the solution's features are robust, the added bonus of a simple and easy interface could easily help them win more customers.
The included CNG-Web interface may be more appealing for the non-power users in your company.
SUPPORTING YOUR DOCUMENTS
CNG Safe has extensive support documentation as well as a support forum, that includes a knowledge base and personalized support capability. The documentation is free and available on their website. Access to their support forum, however, is restricted to customers.
CNG-SAFE is available as an on premise installed application on your server/workstations, or as the CNG-Online version which is completely hosted by Cabinet NG Inc.
IS IT FOR YOU?
Based on personal experience, I would recommend the solution. Why? Because efficient document management translates into satisfied employees which, in turn, translates into happy customers!