We are often asked, including here at Geektimes, whether Canon is working in the era of introducing digital technologies into business processes on automation and document management products.
In short, yes, of course. Occupying a significant part of the market for printing and document processing devices, we understand that more and more of our clients are interested in advanced document management systems or are thinking about a partial transition to digital format. Therefore, for more than 10 years we have been working on corporate solutions for working with documents, one of which is Therefore. About him and will be discussed in our post today.
The situation with document management in Russian companies can be described as uneven. If companies of a new formation tend to “digital”, then more conservative market players can often “drown” in the swamp of contracts and other documents. Colleagues even calculated that, on average, office employees of such organizations spend up to 50 minutes a day searching for information on corporate resources.
In due time, our developers came to the idea of creating their own document management system. The result of their work was Therefore - an integration solution for storing, managing, automating and analyzing company documentation. It is a combination consisting of a processing server, (if necessary) hardware devices connected to it and specialized software, as well as additions to already existing proprietary and third-party solutions.
How it works?
If you try to characterize the principle of work of Therefore with one sentence, you might get the following scheme: incoming information from various sources (scanners, network folders, email boxes, external systems) is processed through the software module Therefore, then goes to the central server of the system, where it is used relevant automation rules; data is being integrated into third-party applications (including deep integration with SAP and Dynamics NAV) and the document finally takes its place in the document hierarchy of the organization.
To make the principle of work even clearer, let us give an example: a client in a car dealership buys a new car. To complete the transaction it is necessary that certain documents fall into the common base of the company. Imagine that this is a copy of the contract, as well as a receipt for the payment of the first installment. A scanned copy of the contract is taken by the manager right in the salon and in order for them to be entered into the system, it is enough for him to select the appropriate menu on the screen of his MFP (Therefore already integrated into the device management menu), after which the system recognizes the contract number and other required fields and sends the document to the server. Further, according to the established rule, the document can be sent to the legal department or to the accounting department for invoicing. At the same time, the manager who entered into the contract (if necessary) will see the entire chain and know exactly where this document is located. After issuing the invoice and its payment, suppose that the receipt of payment arrives at the dealership's email. It is also automatically processed by Therefore, and thanks to the recognition of individual fields, it is automatically attached to an already created project. After checking in all necessary instances, the data can be sent to the enterprise management system (for example, Dynamics NAV) for subsequent ordering procedures, delivery and shipment of the car), and the original documents will be saved in the appropriate directory on the server. All other documents related to this project will also be painstakingly stored there.
It is important to note that system administrators can set many parameters: create a map of document movement for all documentation, as well as for individual documents, indicate their storage locations, distribute access rights according to the type and information contained in the document, and much more.
For those involved in workflow or enterprise management systems, therefore, it may not be a revelation. However, it has a significant advantage - it is a single whole product, choosing which your specialists will relieve themselves of the difficulties of setting up individual components from different manufacturers and the subsequent coordination of their work.
What is why?
Therefore - this is not at all a bulky corporate monster, but an easily scalable architecture. Implementing a product into an organization’s work environment usually takes no more than a week.
The solution is based on a central server, on whose shoulders lies the entire process of processing and managing the organization’s documents. He is also responsible for the temporary storage of all received documentation.
In essence, therefore, the server is a transport hub through which all traffic of the company's documents passes. Scanners and MFPs, employees' computers, a mail server and access via a web interface on the one hand and a central server, as well as enterprise management systems on the other can be connected to the server.
To enter and manage information in a number of software components. For example, there is a separate add-in for modern scanning devices with an input terminal, which allows not only to bring the scanned document into the system, but also to set additional parameters for its internal movement.
In addition, you can digitize a working document using a small application, Therefore Capture Client, which works directly from the client PC in conjunction with a document scanner. It can also be used to import documents from storage media or to classify and index documents already stored in Therefore. As in the add-in, it supports barcode recognition and OCR for indexing and separating document packages.
For quick information processing, a couple of document processors are also provided - the Document Document Loader and the Content Content Connector. The first allows you to load large volumes of documents into the system, while the second allows you to process information from various sources, including various ERP or CRM systems. To do this, you just need to specify the system folder for continuous automatic analysis. It can also analyze the mail client folders and download all the information that corresponds to the predefined rules.
In addition to this, it is possible to integrate Therefore with Microsoft Outlook and Exchange. Users can independently upload documents from incoming correspondence by pressing a single button in the Outlook interface. Or, the attached documents will be automatically (according to certain rules) added to the ecosystem therefore directly from the mail server.
It pauses for a second and explains an important nuance: so that documents are carefully indexed in the system and can be quickly found, Therefore, it archives all incoming documents in a special THEX container, which contains not only the source file, but also extensive metadata in XML format, links to external files and digital signature.
You can manage files in the system either with the help of the Therefore Navigator manager, or using the standard Windows interface - the system can be easily integrated into it. Therefore Navigator, however, has more advanced features - with its use, you can also manage tasks in workflow processes.
The Android Viewer (which is part of the Android Navigator) allows you to display the contents of up to 250 document formats (without requiring a native program, for example, even AutoCAD) and add annotations to them. In addition, using the Viewer, you can create new versions of a document, edit index fields, and view previous versions.
In order to comply with the spirit of the times, Document Management provides for a web interface with SSL encryption, as well as mobile applications for iOS, Android and Windows.
For a business that works in the field of e-commerce, however, and for another area that requires the ability to enter data through a form on the website / corporate portal or read official documentation, Therefore, there is an embedded solution, Therefore Portal.
Another important point that was provided by the developers of Therefore - the convenience of building a workflow and workflow. Instead of a multitude of menus and settings, the responsible manager can simply draw the process tree, drag the necessary elements onto the map (these can be scenarios, tasks, employees, and more) and specify the rules for each of the intermediate steps.
In addition to the above-mentioned integration with Microsoft Office and Outlook / Exchange, Therefore it has a rather impressive list of third-party components and solutions with which it can interact. We will tell about the most important of them.
First, it is Microsoft Sharepoint, which allows you to store all the documentation of the organization’s corporate portal in the infrastructure Therefore.
Secondly, it is worth noting the integration with the Power BI analytics service, which allows you to display all the necessary data from the ecosystem in the form of visual graphics in real time. In addition, you can also create any reports on your activities thanks to the support of SQL Server Reporting Services.
The latest and most important component for Microsoft services is the connector for the enterprise management system Dynamics NAV 2013. It allows you to use these two systems at the same time and take advantage of each: all documents Therefore will be embedded in the Dynamics structure, in turn, the corporate information of the latter will be stored in our archive proprietary solutions.
Continuing the theme of the SOUP, it is important to mention another connector that allows you to exchange data with SAP NetWeaver. The development is based on ArchiveLink and certified by SAP, making data exchange as effective as in the case of Dynamics NAV.
Tight integration allows you to save incoming paper and electronic documents directly from the SAP user interface. At the same time, all components of our proprietary solution will support SAP barcode recognition functions and are fully integrated into SAP storage scripts. Therefore, it can retrieve document indices directly from SAP processes.
All documents in the ecosystem Therefore can be signed by electronic signature thanks to integration with one of the key market players, DocuSign.
Speaking of data reliability and security.
If the document is protected by an electronic signature, then while it is in the ecosystem Therefore, authentication and authentication will be performed each time the document is accessed. This applies both to electronic signatures that were entered directly into the system, and those for which third-party software was used.
Our security standards are constantly being tested for compliance with industry-accepted OWASP, NIST and OSSTMM standards. Each connection, whether internal or external (via an application or via a web interface) is protected and requires authorization.
Instead of conclusion
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Thanks for attention!