There are many document management systems available in industry today, which are excellent for document storage and retrieval, management of document versions and workflow processes such as review and approval. They also provide some level of collaboration such as parallel review of documents but that is as far as it goes.
There are also many database applications which are excellent at managing discrete data and can be used to quickly generate simple documents such as forms.
The most prevalent document comparison/collaboration tool that addresses change identification can be found in the toolbars of Microsoft Word. The ‘Track Changes’ option enables a user to simply indicate areas of text that should be deleted from a document, and which should be added. The process of review is very problematic and time-consuming. Continued amendment of the same document can result in corruption, with different metadata and text/font styles adding confusion. There is a risk that the integrity of the original document will not be maintained.
The publishing tool, Adobe, has a ‘collaboration feature’ that is more advanced but shares the same shortcomings concerning document integrity and effective multiple collaboration. Time inefficiencies are not overcome by either of these tools, despite the basic ability to recognize change in some way. In addition, in both cases documents are standalone and there is no way to address the impact of a change which may affect multiple documents across the lifecycle of a product.
Best of Both Worlds
The challenge which Kneat Solutions decided to address was to develop a hybrid best-of-both-worlds solution which would combine the flexibility, ease of use and richness of content of the document-centric model with the sharing, control and traceability of well structured and managed information as provided by the data-centric model.
How Kneat Addresses the Challenge
By combining the benefits of a document management system with the efficiency of a database application, Kneat has developed a solution which can create and maintain sets of product, process or facility/equipment lifecycle documents with less effort and higher quality.
The Kneat Gx Application employs a hybrid model combining:
- Data-centric approach
- Document-centric approach
Kneat Gx is data-centric at its core but presents a document-centric view of the world to its users.
This allows users to create and work with documents that share data through a well structured underlying model. The application allows users to control access to that data and to assess the impact of changing that data in any location (document).
The traditional document-centric approach involves maintaining a document file which encompasses the entire document content. Kneat Gx treats a document as an organised collection of sections, each treated as an individual object. Therefore multiple users may work on a document at any one time with each section open for editing by a single user. This allows users more control of the content that they are editing than other applications that support co-editing such as MSWord 2010.
Kneat Gx allows the user to control how their data is presented and modified by allowing the user to embed “smart” tables and fields. These tables and fields link to the data model and present data in a well structured and flexible manner.
Powerful Change Control
Kneat Gx provides powerful change control and impact assessment functionality. By changing a data field in one document, the application can assess the impact on other documents that display the same or related data. When modified data (or related data) appears in documents that have been approved, the approved documents are updated automatically via a highly customisable change control workflow.
This is a very powerful mechanism that allows approved data to be automatically updated while ensuring that the updates are communicated to and agreed by interested parties. This makes Kneat Gx the most powerful tool available for regulated industries which require strict control over approved documents and changes to those documents.
Solutions aimed at resolving this problem have been attempted in the past without a concluding comprehensive solution.