Thursday, December 27, 2012

When 'FREE' costs more in the long run: Why WebCenter often costs less then SharePoint - despite the stunning license price difference


I've been keeping off this fray for quite some time, but clients are asking us these questions and it may be a good time to bring in some clarity here and provide some real trustworthy facts, so read on and decide for yourself.

Microsoft SharePoint has surpassed 100 million users in 2011 and has been adding 20,000 users a day, every day for over 5 years. This type of statistics is hard to ignore. SharePoint has a number of very appealing features that makes it a 'no brainer' choice for a growing number of organizations of all sizes. And even when a project turns awry - IT can easily deflect the heat by citing that 'everybody' is experiencing similar issues and pointing to any of the countless articles and case studies. You can no longer get fired for picking SharePoint - just like back in the 80th you couldn’t get fired for going with IBM.

But here's the kicker. While implementing SharePoint as your main content and document management solution may be a safe choice - statistics show that Oracle WebCenter ends up costing 32% lower, has significantly more functionality and comes with out of the box integration to the majority of existing enterprise systems - while 53% of organizations who use SharePoint did not manage to integrate it with any of their other applications.

SharePoint is a great tool for facilitating collaborative environments and it has some very smart marketing behind it. But it lacks depth in many of the key areas, and this forces almost all organizations to invest heavily into third party software - and then - even more - on integration, maintenance and administration.

Here're a few key areas where SharePoint clients are forced to rely on the outside vendors and expensive integration projects - to compensate for the lack of functionality:


  • Reporting, auditing and workflow. While SharePoint offers some basic functionality in these areas, it is vastly inadequate and almost all clients are forced to compliment SharePoint with a mix of 3rd party solutions - for each of these 3 areas
  • Digital Asset Management and Conversion - out of the box conversion to different formats on check in, image and video management and metadata extraction
  • Document capture and scanning support is not included with SharePoint while Oracle WebCenter fully supports scanning.
  • Record Management. SharePoint does not meet the DoD 5015.2 specification, a de-facto industry standard, and is lacking many important features


SharePoint often 'penetrates' an organization with a single department installs SharePoint Services, that come at no additional cost and the word about the 'magic tool that is free to use' gets around. But then, an enterprise-wide implementation does come at a cost - and the costs of all this other required Microsoft and 3rd party software brings the initial investment alone all the way to WebCenter level!

When looking at the total licensing cost - a typical SharePoint rollout costs only 23% less than WebCenter:



And the cost of a "free" SharePoint solution only goes up from there - with much larger integration. customization and maintenance costs. Once you step outside of basic team sits, "SharePoint administrators spend a majority (60%) of their day to day time on activities for site/template administration, content conversion, workflow administration, and integration administration, with nearly a third of the time spent on customization and integration activities"


(Chart from The InfoTrends Whitepaper - SharePoint 2010 Cost of Ownership)

These work out to significant ongoing costs and when added up over a period of several years, WebCenter comes out ahead by a large margin:

(Chart from The InfoTrends Whitepaper - SharePoint 2010 Cost of Ownership)


Now if you factor in the cost savings, that come from re-use of existing Oracle hardware and  licenses (such as Oracle Database or Oracle Exadata boxes) - the costs savings will look even more attractive. On the other hand, SharePoint' massive resource requirements, combined with the SQL Server notorious maximum database size limits are forcing you to acquire additional servers and software - even if you are a 'Microsoft Shop'.

So which way should you go - WebCenter or SharePoint? Or maybe both? Should you be migrating your content or integrating the two? Give us a shout at contact@ecmsolutions.ca and claim your
No-Charge SharePoint to WebCenter Roadmap. 

We help you maximize the value of proper planning when designing, developing and delivering an enterprise initiatives and help you approach qualified projects with this no-charge two-day assessment, that rapidly drafts the expectations, requirements, timeline, and deliverables.

This is what you're getting:
  • Prioritized high-level business and technical requirements
  • Oracle software options and initial recommendations
  • High-level solution design and implementation roadmap
  • Estimated range for project effort
Connect with us at contact@ecmsolutions.ca and learn more about this no-charge Two-Day Assessment within your organization

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Secrets of the Full Text Search

Spend 15 min to understand exactly how Content Server' Full Text search is working!

This article takes you behind the scenes and shows you exactly how the full text indexing works in Oracle Content Server. If you ever tried to troubleshoot your search, indexer, batch loader or a performance issue – without a full understanding of how the things really work under the hood – I don’t have to tell you how much time this article can really save you. So without any further due – here it comes.

Before you try to follow these steps, make sure that you have SearchIndexerEngineName=DATABASE.FULLTEXT set in your config.cfg. Oracle Text Search will work in a very similar fashion, even though there’re some minor differences. Now for the 10g and 11g systems - the process is the same and the steps below will apply to both.

Now that you checked that you have your full text search enabled, let’s begin. First, enable the "systemdatabase" and "indexer" verbose logging. Go to your System Audit Information and make sure you have the options selected like this:



Ready? Now, let’s set the stage by checking in a PDF document. I’ve created a small PDF for this demonstration:




Check it in and then go back and refresh your server output. Search for the content id of the PDF document you’ve just checked in. You'll see that the indexing process has been initiated (See screenshot below)



You'll see the application/pdf - MIME type being accepted as an indexable format. This means that the document was either successfully checked in or successfully converted by the inbound refinery.

Now let’s take a look at the next couple of lines. The Content Server is then spawning a new process - the textexport tool, that comes with Oracle Outside In functionality and comes with the ContentAccess component - part of the standard Content Server distribution.

The textexport program reads the file, extracts the text and saves it as a text file in the active search collection folder - i.e. /IdcCol2/bulkload/~export

If you continue to follow your server output, you'll also see the name and the path to the temporary text file. I'm showing the file and its content here:

(See screenshot below) 





Now that the text is extracted - it is then placed into your database table (IdcCol1 or IdcCol2) - along with the metadata.

Before we go on, let me tell you something else, it's important. For performance and storage efficiency reasons only the latest revision of the document is stored in the IdcColx tables. This means that the full text searches are only done on the latest released revision.

The first step in updating the idcColx table is then to remove any reference to that content ID, if it already exists - to make sure that only one (latest) revision is present. Since we did a new checkin, the attempted delete operation returns "0 Rows Affected." (See screenshot below) 





Now if we're dealing with a delete, the newly deleted revision is then removed from an IdcColx table, the text from the new latest revision is extracted and is inserted as the new full text search record - along with its metadata.

We're now ready to insert metadata and full text into the database table. The text that was extracted out of the document is inserted into the dDocFullText field, which is a BLOB field. Below is the actual SQL statement that indexer is using to do just that: 





Note that the actual text file path is used on the SQL statement! Then also note how in the last line of output above the revision state is changed to "I" to mark it as indexed.

And here's how the end result looks like if you run a select statement on the database:




While at the database, let’s check how full text index is built on the IdcColx table:


Note that the index is auto updated on commit, so as soon as the row is inserted into the table, it is ready to be returned in searches. Also note that the only full text indexed field is the dDocFullText one.

Ok, we've just traced the process of creating an index. And now let's look at...

How the index is used

Bring up your Content Server home page or a query builder page, so you see a full text search box (See screenshot below) 




(You can also use the quick search box on the top right.)

Got the page loaded? Gut. Now clear your server output before running your search so you get to see exactly what happens in the database (See screenshot below)



So that was the SQL statement. And now let me give you one last important insight.

The full text extracted from the document is tokenized per word, so the search is actually looking for word hits. So searching for "test" will return our item and searching for "te" will not. Actually, this doesn’t have much to do with the Content Server. Let me show you what the actual SQL statements will return:

Searching for "test" will happily return our record :



... and searching for "te" comes back empty-handed




I hope I've given you some useful insight and you feel clear about how things actually work with the full text indexing. Now it might be a good time to check out other free insider tips and popular Web Center technical articles, and also find out what specific techniques allow us to achieve killer results for our clients - even with the smallest budgets. Check out at http://bit.ly/TdKLA7

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Is Site Studio Dead?


I'm sure you've heard the news. The new WebCenter Sites along with WebCenter Portal will be replacing the Site Studio going forward, and Site Studio is only supported until 2019!

So.... should you upgrade tomorrow?

A lot of clients are asking us this question. And the answer is - don't rush it! WebCenter Sites is a 100K per CPU product and chances are that you've got your Site Studio license included included in WebCenter Content deal at no additional cost.
You can still get another 7 years of life and support out of this product and you can still get a lot of business value too.

Now we just launched our free Quick Assessment service - when we work with your technical and business teams and help with planning and creating your migration and imlementation roadmap - at no cost to you. So if you would like to check and know your options now rather then later and what to expect going forward - please do get in touch.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Are You Making These Mistakes In Your Oracle Site Studio Implementations?

If you've built at least one web site with Oracle Site Studio - and will not find yourself guilty of at least one of these sins - the lunch is on me. Whether you are a 5+ years Site Studio veteran or a raw rookie - these tips will make your life easier and your web sites faster, friendlier and more robust. 
Grab my free whitepaper here: http://bit.ly/RCOzuo

Friday, June 22, 2012

Site Studio Zero To 100 In 4.4 Seconds

This might easily be the fastest way to understand and get started with Oracle Site Studio - the Web Content Management tool that comes bundled with WebCenter Content. If you have some background and web development - this introduction will get you up and running in a matter of hours!

Grab your copy here: http://bit.ly/OLqQ8S

Now where this 4.4 seconds stuff come from? Well, this whitepaer gives you the kind of feeling you experience in the new BMW 5M where 440 horses squeeze you deeper into your seat, when you step on the gas and let the thing go.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Mastering Oracle Universal Records Management in a hurry

If you use (or planning to use) Oracle URM, but find it somewhat clumsy or confusing – chances are – you didn’t get the proper product introduction. This whitepaper will dispel confusion and install clarity on Universal Records Management, Physical Records Manager and The Records Manager Enterprise Edition.

Introduction

Let’s start by reviewing the main reasons why most organizations do implement Records Management in the first place... and what results should you expect out of a successful implementation. I don’t want to you to spend an hour... much less a day or a month... even considering to implement a solution that might not bring you the results you expect. So let’s see...

Why use Record Management?

Essentially, there are three main reasons:

1. Business needs. Flag outdated content for deletion or archival, synchronize physical and electronic versions of content and keep track of the physical files, folders and boxes floating around your offices. The URM will also help you more effectively share content across organization and ensure it is retained for the period that it should be – regardless of the source or the system that stores it.

2. Compliance. Ensure regulatory compliance (SOX, SEC, industry regulations) by keeping the content for required periods of time and consistently following the processing rules, such as destruction, review or archival – when this period is over.

3. Litigation support. Systematically disposing of certain types of documents, when you’re no longer required to keep them – may reduce your risk of being sued. You may also choose to freeze some important content, related to legal action you’re about to take – so it doesn’t get “accidentally” destroyed by a disgruntled employee.

Now there’s a boat load of record management tools, all claiming to give you similar benefits. Let’s consider...

Why go with Oracle?


Well, first of all, if you have other Oracle products, such as Oracle UCM, Web Content Management or even an Oracle database – it makes sense to stay with the same vendor and get your repeat customer discounts, use your in-house Oracle folks instead of having to hire new skill sets and keep all of your technical support in one place.

If you don’t own any Oracle tools yet – here’re the three critical features that your new URM must provide. If it doesn’t – you risk to see your entire deployment, your corporate initiative and possibly your reputation... well... severely damaged.

1. The system you pick must be able to apply your records management policies and practices on content in external and remote repositories such as file systems, other CMS repositories and email archives as well as your non-records content. If it doesn’t – you’ll be forced to migrate the content of your entire enterprise into this new system or fail.

2. Your new URM must be easy use. If it’s not – your business folks will use all of their smarts to avoid it. I’ve seen it and I’m sure you’ve seen it happen more than once. All license costs, all installation and configuration efforts, the budgets spent on professional services – tons of money, time and reputations end up burning in flames every day in organizations around the world – large and small.

3. The system must be... hot-pluggable. Let’s face it – you don’t have years to perform complex customizations, integrate systems or migrate your content. If the new URM is not usable straight out of the box - you’ll be forced to play catch-up and scramble to show quick results to your business sponsors.

Oracle URM lets you place a solid checkmark into all of these boxes. It also Certified against all parts of DoD 5015 v3 and out of the box comes with adapters for File System, Documentum, FileNet, MS SharePoint and others. So it lets you add retention management that matches and exceeds industry standards - almost instantly. It easily scales up to millions of records, but can also run on a very small footprint.

Ok, so now here’s...

How to get comfortable with Oracle URM in a short afternoon

If you ever heard doctors talk “Doctorise” to each other and were standing there wondering if that was English or what – you know where should we start. So let’s start with...

Understanding the concepts and terminology

Here’s the light-speed introduction to just the essential Records Management terms you’ll need.

Retention

Retention is the act of keeping information for specified periods of time, depending on the type of content or depending on applicable laws or regulations. The most common types of retention are time-based (i.e. keeping the content for 10 years from the date of filing), event-based (i.e. employee terminated) and a combination of the two.

Disposition

After retention period is over, authorized people within the organization take appropriate action to dispose of the content.
Please note that it URM does not simply delete content when it no longer need to be retained. Disposition does not always mean deletion. Yes, content may need to be physically or electronically destroyed after a period of retention, but it can also be stored internally in an archive location or transferred to external storage facility.
Disposition in Oracle URM is defined as a set of disposition instructions that define when and how the content will be disposed of. Disposition instructions are based on the time periods and triggers – item status changes or simple act of previous disposition action completing.

Record Content

Record content, as opposed to regular managed content, is managed on a retention schedule. It is being marked as record on filing, retained according to retention rules and then goes into disposition.




As shown on the diagram, the item remains content until the Cutoff, and then it enters Disposition. Once again, cut off may be time– or event-based.
The filing date may be the item’s check in date (which is the most common case) or it may be the date that it is marked as being retained.
Older URM 10gR3 differentiated Record vs. Non-record content. Content marked as Record could not be revisioned and after the cutoff, their metadata was also fixed and could not be modified. URM 11g lifts these restrictions and let administrator control whether or not the content should be revisioned.

Retention Schedule

Retention Schedule is a hierarchy that defines specifically how the content is actually retained. Retention schedule is defined on 3 levels:
  • Retention Categories – is the place where disposition instructions and security settings are actually applied. 


  • Series is a hierarchy that allows you to organize your retention categories (Retention Categories cannot be nested). Series can also be hidden which allows you to prevent your contributors from filing content into the work-in-progress structures. 
  • Record Folders is a level below Retention Categories, that allows you to organize items with similar retention and security. Record Folders can be nested. 

So here’s how the entire Retention Schedule looks in Oracle URM user interface:

 

Freeze

Items in a record folder or individual content items may be frozen which prevents them from being updated, deleted or destroyed. This is useful when you need to comply with audit or litigation requirements.

Internal and External Retained Content

This one is actually intuitive and easy to understand. Internal content stored in Oracle Content Server and managed by the URM.
External content can either be physical, like filing boxes, DVD media and microfiche or it can be electronic content stored externally, for instance in email archive or Microsoft SharePoint.

Classified Content

Classified content is sensitive information that requires protection against unauthorized disclosure. Unclassified content is the opposite and Declassified content is the content that used to be classified in the past.

Typical classifications include “Top Secret”, “Secret”, “Confidential” and “Unclassified”.

And that was the last one. We’re now ready to proceed to...

Getting to know your tools

I’m sure I won’t even sound original when say that an hour spent actually doing it, turning the knobs and pulling on the handles – beats an entire month worth of hearing about it. It’s true. So begin by getting yourself a private sandbox environment to play with the URM, while getting yourself comfortable with it.

Five easy steps to mastering Oracle URM 

The following five steps will get you well under way to understanding the steps involved in mastering Oracle URM and in a successful enterprise-wide rollout. The first one of course is ...

Building your own environment

Another reason why working with Oracle tools is so great is the fact that anyone can simply accept their License Agreement and download an unlimited evaluation version.
Yes, the installation guides can be long and following dozens of pages worth of detailed instructions can take several days.... But what about my promise of helping you master the URM in a hurry, faster than everyone else thought possible?
Well, shortly after the UCM 11g was released in the Spring of 2010, I’ve uploaded a set of quick tutorial videos (about 30 min between 5 parts), that guide you through download, installation and basic configuration of Oracle UCM. I show you how to avoid all the pitfalls and get it done right the first time.
The videos are available on uTube and here’s the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j1zAzaXCJwQ
Once the environment is up, you are ready to proceed with the following four major steps involved in the setup.

Creating Retention Schedule and Disposition

Depending on your organization’s requirements, you may need to add or customize the triggers, time periods, and freezes.
When that’s complete, the meat and potatoes of creating a retention schedule (as I mentioned above) comes down to defining your series, your retention categories with disposition instructions and your record folders.
Well, in reality, you shouldn’t jump into creating your Retention Schedule before you had a chance to define your security and your metadata models. Why? Because the custom meta will show on your categories and your record folders and your Contributors and your Records Officers will need to have proper access assigned to use the system. So here’s what’s involved in...

Defining your Security

URM security is an extension of the Content Server role-based model. (If you need a quick primer, there’s a free tutorial video titled “How to become clear on ECM Role-Based Security in 15 min or less” available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8HAMt_RAsLw)

Defining your security then comes down to adding new roles and accounts and assigning to users.

The system comes with three basic roles – rma - for URM contributors/users, rmaLocalRecrdsOfficer - for people in charge of the retention schedule and other business-level configuration - and rmaAdmin – for system administrators.
Note that the Local Records Officer role used to be called rmaPrivileged in URM 10gR3, but the basic functionality is still the same. The screenshot below shows specific RMA rights assigned to this role in URM 10gR3.





If Physical Content Management is enabled, additional roles will also be available.
Once your security is defined, you (or your Records Officers) can start working on creating the Retention Schedule.

Customizing your Metadata Model

I’m almost sure, your business folks would like you to add new custom fields to your retention categories record folders and so on. They might also like to rename or hide some of the fields that come out of the box or change the order the system is using for displaying them.
The good news here is that URM comes with its own facility for managing custom metadata fields – readily available through Records > Configure > Metadata menu options.

Using Oracle URM Adapters

URM Adapters – for File System, Documentum, FileNet and MS SharePoint 2003 and 2007 – obtain all policies from the URM server, that manages the retention and apply them to content stored in the corresponding system. The Adapter also sends information back to the URM server so it can maintain a complete and up-to-date catalogue of the enterprise's important Content. The screenshot below shows results of Federated Search across the Content Server and linked SharePoint repositories.





This lets you apply your retention policies to content more consistently with less administrative effort and less disruption for users – without the need to migrate your existing content out of your existing systems across the enterprise.
You can also freeze items in SharePoint and apply retention by search criteria and item locations.
Please note that MS SharePoint 2003 and 2007 adapters are currently only supported with URM 10gR3
And now if you’ve used or planning to use the older Oracle URM 10gR3 – the following section will give you some valuable insights. So here’s ....

What’s new in URM 11g

If you are (or soon will be) upgrading from the previous Oracle URM 10gR3 – here are the major changes that took place in the new URM 11g

  • In the old versions items marked as Record could not be revisioned. Now the actual definition of Record is configurable. When you create a Retention Category - you can now specify if the items under it can be revisioned, edited, deleted or made permanent.






Clear, easy and logical!

  • Records Manager Corporate Edition – a stripped down version – and the Records Manager DoD Edition – the full one – are now merged into the single Oracle URM product. So is the Physical content manager – now a part of the single Oracle URM product.
  • Route all changes to disposition rules through a workflow when needed – to get approvals or notify stakeholders automatically
  • You can now create and check in Report Templates – for easy to create and consistent looking reports!
  • Nice interface changes, such as obsolete and out of date items are now shown as crossed – out...






Print option is now available on every screen... User dashboards... Records and Physical menus on the top have been given a major face lift – most of the options are now available there – in one place!

Conclusion

You’ve just completed your light-speed introduction to Oracle URM, where we looked at the reasons why organizations deploy Records Management and the benefits they expect to achieve, core concepts and terminology used in record management such as Retention and Disposition and we’ve looked at steps involved in setting up your own Oracle URM enterprise deployment. Now it might be a good time to check out other free insider tips and popular Web Center technical articles, and also find out what specific techniques allow us achieve killer results for our clients - even with the smallest budgets. Check out at http://bit.ly/OR9IAl

Monday, May 7, 2012

Integrating Oracle Content Server into larger architectures... In 30 minutes or less!


This whitepaper is the fastest way to tap into WebCenter Content (Oracle UCM) from your other enterprise application I know about. You’ll get a quick and practical introduction to all major integration scenarios, like using the UCM as your content database, long term storage, document management and web content management - both real time and batch-oriented. Plus you’ll get fresh, hands on insight into using various technologies and best fits for all integration scenarios.

Grab your copy here:



Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What can be better than a free one-on-one in-peron expert consultation?

Here's How To Have A Panel Of Renowned Oracle Web Center Content/UCM Experts Answer Your Questions Live, One-on-One With No Strings Attached

Attend one of our WebCenter Content Hot Seat sessions at the booth 1455 next week at Collaborate 12

All you'll have to do is climb up on our "hot seat" and ask about any WebCenter-related issue or concern you might be having.

We will give you a straight honest detailed answer from yours truly (Oracle ACE and the author of The Oracle UCM Handbook, wrote hundreds popular technical articles and he also runs the Independent Oracle UCM Knowledge Center) and Frank Woo (COO Softlinx, Oracle Gold Partner with dozens of successful WebCenter and UCM implementations and many dozens of happy clients over the years). No-nonsense, no sales talk just plain old PRO to PRO straight talk goodness.

And if that's not enough, you'll get an extra scoop of wisdom from your fellow attending crowd around you.  That's right. We're expecting a good number of people to attend these so we are expecting a crowd!

So if you are a Web Center Content/UCM client or a system integrator and you might have a question or concern regarding  Content Management, Site Studio, Records Management or Imaging  - stop by the booth 1455 and sign up for one of our sessions:

Tuesday, April 24, 2:00 PM
Wednesday, April 25, 11:00 AM and 2:00 PM

I'll see you then!

Best,
D

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Oracle Document Capture - the fastest introduction I know about

A few folks have been asking me to do a demo of Oracle Capture and show what it can do and how to use it - so I figured I might as well share it with everybody. This will be fast, but its not one of those BS introductions that gives you marketing stuff and colored block diagrams that just get you feel dizzy and totally messed up. Nope. This one will get you comfy enough so that if you want to go ahead and start using Oracle Capture right away - you will just go ahead... and it will actually work.
So here it comes:
Let’s start by quickly looking at why so many Content Management implementations fail... and also...

What sales people are getting ... right?

You’ve probably heard that sales pitch about controlling the scary bloat of ever expanding mass of unstructured content – paper, email, file shares and how important it is to help your business people to really access the information they need, when they need it – from anywhere. And you know what – that part is right. I agree with the sales guys. Unstructured content really is hard and expensive to manage. I’ve personally seen clients losing hundreds of thousands of dollars having micro-chips manufactured to an outdated specification, ‘cause the production team looked in a wrong folder in an unwieldy SharePoint repository that gone out of control.
So there must be a simple solution, right?

Fast relief to information bloat problem... or not...


Here’s where many good intentions fall flat on a cold hard concrete of reality... the tool alone will not solve your business problem! No matter what tool you pick.
People install Oracle UCM, but unless they capture the metadata – the system is not much better than a plain old file system. Yes, they realize that and they define the metadata they would like to capture, so their check-in screens end up something like this screenshot on the previous page.
Problem solved, Right?
Uh... not exactly.

You see, when a contributor sees a form like that, they get terrified... or annoyed.... or both. And they try to get away with as little input as possible. So they skip as many fields as they can and when the system pops up a “value required” thing at them – they enter garbage.
So is it really practical to collect more than just a handful of metadata fields on check in?
Probably not, if you do it by hand... But who said you ought to do it by hand?

Introducing Oracle Capture

Let’s say, we’re checking in a monthly invoice and have five fields we’d like to capture. How would you like to – instead of putting them on the check in form – let your contributor to look at the actual document, side-by-side with a check in form... and have OCR to take its best guess at pulling that data and populating the form – before the contributor even gets to look at it?
Well, this is exactly what Oracle Capture is designed to do – pretty much out of the box.
Take a look at the screenshot below:

Not only contributor gets to see the document and the metadata fields side-by-side, each field has a corresponding OCR zone defined – and Capture is actually extracting the data out of this zone and puts it into the field.
When she moves to the next field, that field’s zone is highlighted in blue and she gets to see where the value in the field came from.
If the document was skewed or poorly scanned and the zone misses the value, contributor can simply drag and drop the value (See screenshot below)


Just select the area containing the text that you want to see in the field with your right mouse button and see the OCR extract the text out of the area and place in the field for you! How many fields do you think you can capture now?
You can combine also multiple documents into one and you’re free to remove junk pages as you see fit. Imagine what would it take to delete a page from a PDF document during normal Content Server check in. It’s simply not practical so these junk pages end up in repository...wasting time when searching for information... and folks print them every time and waste trees.
All solved in Oracle Capture at a click of a button (See screenshot below)

I hope you’re getting a feel for what it can do. So now it would be a perfect time for some...

Real life stories

I’m going to show you a couple of real life examples, so I want to quickly prove to you that this tool actually works.

Slashed half of the load of overworked Document Control people

One of the projects we recently completed was automating workflow and document control for a nuclear power station operation management provider. As part of doing business, they exchange a ton of technical specifications and formal transmittals with their government clients and sub-suppliers. Prior to implementation, information was duplicated, not easy to organize and retrieve and they didn’t have a structured workflow process.
Before using Capture, average time spent per document was benchmarked at 2 min 17 sec – on a 15 field check in form. With using Capture for extracting verifying and correcting pre-filled values – time spent per document dropped to just over 33 seconds!
That’s over two hours of added productive time (out of estimated 4) per Document Control person per day – or a killer 200% increase in productivity!

One more (75%) productivity increase here

Another our recent project I’d like to mention is the one where we’ve automated document storage, acquisition and workflow for a mid-sized insurance company. They have significant volume of incoming claim-supporting correspondence – mostly scanned documents coming in by email.
Over the years, they’ve tried more than once to extract meaningful metadata fields such as claim number and policy id – on check in – with various degrees of success.
They’ve also relied on a custom, outdated component that automatically checked in incoming email attachments. The component was buggy and unreliable.

Implementing Oracle Capture allowed them to finally retire component and begin to extract important metadata values out of incoming documents – during the check in process. Time spent per-document dropped from an average of 1.5 minutes to just under 22 seconds!
And the unsupported and buggy custom component was Capture Import Server.
I hope you’re getting a feel for the kind of massive, nearly instant savings I’m talking about!
And now let me tell you a more about...

How it works

If you look “under the hood” – at the core of Oracle Capture you’ll find a tool, called Zone Editor, that lets you define the zones where OCR should be looking for metadata values (See screenshot below)


You can create multiple document profiles, each with its own set of fields and its own form layout.
Now how would you get documents into Capture?
There’re several ways. The most obvious one is to use a scanner. Capture is happy to take in the scanned docs and you can also apply a bunch of image enhancements (See screenshot below)



But if your documents are coming in as MS Word and PDF on a shared drive or email attachments - you don’t have to print and re-scan them. Simply use the Import Server that will gladly import anything that can be virtually printed. You can also tell it to watch a folder, and drag and drop documents there – and see them appear in Oracle Capture.
Ok, but what happens when the user clicks “Commit” button on her Capture toolbar? There’re many options, but the one I want to focus on is having the document committed to Oracle UCM (See screenshot below)



It’s easy enough to configure, and you can have a searchable PDF/A committed to the Content Server... in addition to being able to map your Capture metadata fields to Content Server.
And now here’s a feature so profound, I had to put it into its own section:

Rapid customization facility

If you need to apply business rules on Content Server check-in - you can use profiles and rules, but they are quite limited. Custom Java components take a long time to write, plus you risk having to re-write them after every version upgrade...
Good news! Capture offers you quick, powerful and easy to use alternative – Basic Macros. Just like in MS Word, Excel and Outlook, you can verify and alter data in the fields, handle events like page load (and Capture’ own commit and OCR-related events), populate dropdown values and display custom dialogs.
Another thing you can do is go back to the database (a Content Server one if you like) and bring back a bunch of metadata values based on just one field. If you do that – all you need to grab off the scanned image is just one field! Claim number brings back the Broker Name, Adjuster, Policy Number and so on.

And once we started to talk about writing macros in Oracle Capture – there’s something else I have to mention...

Don’t say I haven’t told you!

The first time we used Capture a few years ago – we quickly flipped through developer manuals and it only took us 15 minutes to install the tool itself , so went for a beer to celebrate! What an easy tool! Phew! We felt like we’ve almost completed the project. Same time next week.... Bitter disappointment! Nothing works! Can’t even create an object! Assigning values to properties.... no result! Enumerating collections.... collection is empty!
EMPTY? But I’m looking at the damn batch! It has 10 pages! How can the pages collection be empty?
Pounding on keyboards... Screaming... A few days of fun!
But you know what, it all started to work after we’ve learned a few tricks. Macros do seem really simple at first, and they are, they do take a little time and experimentation to get used to and get them to work. So here’re the few tips I wish we had in front of us back then.
So if you are planning on writing macros in Oracle Capture (or you've tried and are facing these kind of issues) - the best way to get you over the hump is to take advantage of my free consultation offer. Check it out at http://www.stellentexperts.com/ - its totally free and you are under no obligation whatsoever. We just get on the phone and I answer your questions... Check it out.
And now that we’ve looked at these and the core features of Oracle Capture, let’s see what it takes to really crash it on results on the corporate level. So here’re the...

3 keys to achieving maximum benefits with Oracle Capture

This section will give you some important pointers on bridging the gap between a really helpful tool and massive enterprise-wide business results. I’m giving you 3 critical keys to a successful corporate rollout of Oracle Capture. Ignore them at your own risk.

Key #1 - It won’t work in isolation

If one of the departments starts using Capture and correctly populate a bunch of metadata fields... and other departments continue to grudgingly punch in required values by hand – the good and the bad entries will all end up in the same repository and you won’t be able to tell the good from the bad.
If you want to see some real results – you may be looking at an enterprise-wide rollout and, possibly, some data cleanup work down the road.

Key #2 - The more you use – the more you gain

Yes, it does sound common sense, but it’s true. The more of your content you have in electronic form, available for searching – the greater the power you give your business people. The more of the relevant metadata fields you define – the easier it is to search, manage and orchestrate your processes.
Once all of your content is in – you can also control its retention. Delete or archive what’s not being used. Eliminate multiple versions of the same document....
This is why companies undertake back file conversions, scan and eliminate paper copies, get rid of their mail rooms and off-site storage. If it takes a day or two to obtain a paper copy – what’s the benefit of having that copy in a first place? Sometimes, spending even 5 minutes searching for it will be posing a risk of making a wrong business decision or missing out on important opportunity.

Key #3 - One size... won’t fit all

Here’s the last one, but by far not the least. To really get what the Capture has to offer - the true benefits, like the smooth, tailored user experience that takes you to the next level of productivity – you got to customize the product ... Add business logic... clean up your OCR data... make your metadata fields “smart” – to handle partial matches, pop up custom dialogs, link the fields, capitalize on database lookups... An extra day of development may well bring you hours worth of saved contributor effort – day in and day out.
Beyond the turbo-charged check-in
That’s great, but what if you don’t want someone to sit there and verify every document? What if you’re looking at a back file conversion of thousands of documents – and you want to have it run unattended?
You really have two options – use bar codes and Oracle Capture Recognition Server or step up to Oracle Forms Recognition
If you can afford to use database lookup and macro code to infer the values of your metadata fields from one or two key fields, the Recognition Server that comes with Oracle Capture will be an ideal solution. Simply add a bar code to your document – to represent the key value, such as your policy or file number - and have a database lookup pull out the rest. That gives you fully automated forms recognition. No human intervention required.
If you need to process a variety of forms and you want the system to decide what form it is – and pull out the correct metadata values – you’re looking at a totally different animal and you got to use a different tool. This tool called Oracle Forms Recognition or OFR.
While Capture is based on a set of user-selected document profiles, each with a fixed OCR zones, OFR comes with intelligent full-form OCR and automatic matching to a document profile. That said, its more expensive and more work to setup and “train”. So once again, one size does not fit all. Pick your tools to match your project.

Conclusion

You’ve just learnt about a killer tool that can quickly put controls around a growing mass of your corporation’s unstructured content and take your business people to the next level of productivity. You’ve seen how Oracle Document Capture slashes manual input with its simple, intuitive and flexible interface... and you’ve seen the actual numbers that come with the massive time savings and productivity gains this tool produces in real life settings.
I’ve shown you what tools you have to customize Oracle Capture to fit to your own requirements and I’ve also given you some insider tips and things you need to be aware of when writing Basic code in Oracle Capture.
You’ve also seen the three keys to achieving the maximum benefits with Oracle Capture and what options do you have when going beyond a “turbo-charged check in screen” solution.Now once again, if you are a Web Center Content (Oracle UCM) client or a System Integrator, You can get me on the phone and get your answers... FREE. This is part of my community work so no sales talk and so strings attached.
That's all I got for today. Stay tuned for more...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Top 7 project-killing "Best Practices" - Part 3

Thanks for checking back! Here's the final post in the series and the last two Oracle UCM anti-patterns you gotta be aware of:

Component Hell

Just  as the name suggests, this is an all too common final destination of these dozens of Content Server installations maintained by Component Lovers. Whether for the love of java code, pride of craftsmanship or an old stupid belief that complexity creates job security, these folks package everything as java components.
A component for a custom check in form, when a simple HCSP page or a content profile can do the job... A component for duplicating the out of the box content expiry feature... A component for custom reporting instead of using the Content Tracker.... A component for custom Content Server User Interface and then putting it into an iFrame inside the Site Studio web site... Cheez! A 5 week project that was replaced by a simple HCSP Region Template, done by a junior developer in a day!
Reinventing the features that come ready to use with the Content Server, the Site Studio or any of these many supported and documented additional components from Oracle – for no good reason is a crime so when a business is asking for a few feature to be developed – make absolutely sure you’ve checked all the features and all supporting products in the UCM suite and building a custom component is justified.

Short Names

Or meaningless names used in the titles, content IDs and identifier names in your iDoc scripts better be avoided. When you check in a Page Template and Site Studio – be sure to specify a content id. If you don’t – the template will look funny in the Designer.
When creating a Region Template, I personally prefer to call it _RT_
There you have it. Not an exhaustive list by any means and not an earth-shattering revelation. I bet you were aware of many of these before... But hopefully, this article have stirred up some thoughts and you will “make 3 steps back” re-examine your UCM practices and your system from a new angle. It’s one of those “small things” that can reverse the trend and bring forth the big things you really want to see in your projects.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Top 7 project-killing "Best Practices" - Part 2

This is the follow up to the post I've cooked up for you over the holidays. Here're another two oh... way too common, embarrassing situations a UCM project may end up in... and how to prevent them:

The Snowball

This is what happens when you ignore the rule above.

Picture yourself having a nicely configured system with clean data. Every document has correct meta values. Now you begin asking for a field that doesn't make sense.

Your contributors will begin putting garbage there... And they'll be putting garbage in other fields as well! How?

Once you done it in one filed - you just keep on typing "asdf" all the way down the form...

The system will soon become polluted. And you might end up losing the meta values for your entire repository. Why?

You won’t know which records have the real values - and which just garbage. Soon enough you won’t be able to trust the data anymore!

Keep an eye on what content is getting entered. And always keep communicating with your business users. Know this single, most expensive type of ECM activity - manual Cleansing and Matching. Unless you have an army of data analysts looking for stuff to do - I don't recommend you letting your project get to this point, so you must try really hard to prevent it.

Gold Plating

This one is a UCM-specific twist on every developer’s all times favourite. All too often I see technical teams continuing to toy with a task or project way past the point when its ripe and ready for the business to start using it.

The key here is to have a live working system in the hands of your business people - as soon as you possibly can.

And then keep improving it. All you need to do is make small incremental changes. Like adding different types of documents, new modules, new workflows etc.

Keep listening to feedback. If business is happy - you did great. If not - all you have to undo is just a few more of these small changes!

And don’t try to bite more then you can chew and don’t sit on an egg that has already hutched! You build 80% of value in the first 20% of the time you're working on the project and that's a really good time to have a business take a look and make a call if they'd like to start using it.

Sounds good?

Ok, gotta go...  back to client's work!

Stay tuned for more.