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Building a Document Management System with Drupal

Vadim G, Lead Developer
February 18, 2022

When it comes to document management systems, Drupal is used for the following features:

  • Assigning metadata. While structuring information, you can add user identifiers and dates, which will help in the automatic search of information.
  • Integration. Drupal can be both a self-sufficient system and a part of the overall software platform used by the company for the storage and processing of paper documents, collaborative work with them, balanced management decisions and so on.
  • Transferring papers into electronic form. The document management system makes it possible to convert paper documents into digital ones, to recognize text for further automatic processing and secure storage.
  • Indexing. Competent electronic document management allows classifying the documents based on metadata and indices, which simplifies and speeds up the search of information and work with it.
  • Storage. An understandable and functional program is much more convenient and safe for storing documents than a bookcase in the office. 

Using the system will reduce the time of document processing. This is done with the help of document templates and configured routes. Work scenarios can vary widely. But despite the complex logic of the processes, the document management system is always clear and easy to navigate for the end user because they see only their tasks and their documents.

Workflow processes done through the system:

  • Registration of incoming and outgoing correspondence;
  • Scanning of documents and their input into the system;
  • Creating documents using templates;
  • Coordination, signing, and registration of documents;
  • Creating resolutions for documents;
  • Delivery of resolutions to executors and automatic control over their execution;
  • Sending of electronic documents;
  • Electronic document storage.

Procedure for Creating a Document Management System

The development of automated document management systems should be carried out in accordance with the methodology for creating document management systems.

The process of designing and implementing a document management system (including an automated one) consists of the following stages:

  1. Preliminary survey;
  2. Analysis of the organization's activities and processes;
  3. Determining the composition of requirements for managing documents;
  4. Determining the document compliance strategy;
  5. System design;
  6. System implementation;
  7. Post-implementation survey.

Preliminary Survey

At this stage of system creation or modernization, a survey is conducted. It is aimed to determine and document the goals and scope of the organization, its organizational structure, the external environment of its functioning in various aspects (administrative, regulatory, business, social), and the principles of document support construction adopted in the organization. The main factors causing the need to create and preserve documents are identified at the same time.

In addition, at the preliminary survey stage, the positive and negative aspects of the organization when it comes to document management are assessed in general terms. This is the basis for determining the depth of project development and justifying the need for support.

Analysis of the Organization's Activities and Processes

Documents serve as evidence and a source of information about each management function and the activities performed during its implementation. At the second stage of creating or modernizing the system, an analysis of the management activities is carried out. The management processes, the course of which is accompanied by documents, are determined.

As a result of such analysis, a detailed description of the management activity can be made in the form of a hierarchical classification scheme, demonstrating management functions, types of activity and separate operations, accompanied by documents. In addition, it is possible to create operational technological schemes of management processes, reflecting the moments of creation or receipt of documents during the management activities.

Determining the Composition of Requirements for Managing Documents

At the third stage, we determine the requirements for creating, obtaining and storing data on each management function and type of activity (up to individual operations and procedures) implemented by documents.

First, the normative legal acts regulating the work with documents in the organization are analyzed. In addition, document requirements are determined by analyzing management needs and responsibilities. This is aided by an assessment of the risk the organization may be exposed to if documents are not created or retained.

Then, it is determined how each requirement can be met within the document management processes. The requirements are articulated and documented in a structured and usable manner.

Upon completion of this step, the organization will have:

  • A list of all sources containing appropriate document requirements;
  • A list of document retention requirements.

As a result, a risk assessment report is prepared, reflecting the legal and other consequences that might arise if the documents are not created and preserved.

This step also involves selecting the types of documents that best fit each component of the management activity (function, activity, or operation).

Determining the Document Compliance Strategy

When designing and implementing systems, the document handling and retention requirements established in step three must be considered. The purpose of step four is to determine the most appropriate regulations, procedures, standards, and other system components that the organization should adopt to ensure the processes for creating and retaining the necessary documents.

Factors such as the way the organization functions (including its goals and history), management methods, the technology used, the specifics of the corporate culture, and others should be taken into consideration when choosing a strategy.

When this stage is completed, the basis for a planned, systematic and compliant approach to the creation, incorporation, retention, use, and preservation of documents is established, allowing for the effective design or modernization of a document management system.

The results of this step include:

  • A description of the strategy for designing a system that meets the document requirements of the organization and other management needs;
  • Materials depicting the compliance of the strategy with the established requirements;
  • A report to the top management of the organization with recommendations for system design in accordance with the presented strategy.

System Design

Now we develop documents that reinforce the strategy selected in the fifth stage. The documents should take into account the requirements formulated and documented in the third phase, as well as identify the actions to address the deficiencies of the current system, identified in the fourth phase. This stage involves making the necessary changes to existing regulations, processes and procedures, adapting or introducing technological solutions, and determining how to effectively implement changes in document management in the organization.

This phase involves document management specialists and other experts working with the users of the system to create technical specifications that best meet the requirements. This will ensure that users understand the work of the system, learn the necessary actions, and use the system effectively for its intended purpose.

As a result of the sixth stage, you will have:

  • System development plan, including a list of tasks, responsibilities, and deadlines;
  • The specification of requirements for the system;
  • The system implementation plan;
  • Diagrams showing the architecture and components of the system;
  • Tentative plans for training and training control, etc.

System Implementation

This phase brings to life the system implementation plan developed in the previous phase and defines how the various components of the document management system (technologies, processes, procedures, and personnel) should be aligned.

Once this phase is completed, the document management organization should be improved with minimal changes to the business, meeting quality management requirements, benefiting from the long-term investment made in the previous six phases.

Documentation created after this phase should include:

  • A detailed project plan describing the selected document management strategy;
  • Documented organizational basics, procedures, and standards for document management;
  • Training materials needed to train or retrain staff to work in a document management environment;
  • Reports on the technical, economic and operational performance of the system;
  • Management reports.

Post-Implementation Survey

This is the process of gathering information about the performance of the document management system. Post-implementation system review is conducted to assess the effectiveness of the system's performance, address identified deficiencies in a timely manner, and establish a regime of continuous monitoring and regular evaluation of the system's performance.

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