Tech Talk 9 by Ken Baker
Better Document Management
Novell Teaming 2: Document Management for the Masses
If you want to work on the file offline, click the Reserve option from the View window navigation bar and then download the file to your local machine for editing. The Reserve option is essentially a document “check-out” capability that locks the file so only you can modify, move, copy or delete the file. (See Figure 5.) When you’re ready to check the file back in and unlock it to allow others to work on it, simply upload the new version and click Unreserve.
The View window also provides a listing of all the previous versions of the file, including who modified them and when. (See Figure 6.) You can view any of the previous versions by simply clicking on one of them. One of the feature improvements in Novell Teaming 2 is that the Previous Versions default list only shows information for the last three file versions, instead of the complete list, which can get quite lengthy. Novell Teaming 2 does, however, give you the option to see the entire list if you prefer.
Novell Teaming makes it easy to comment on a document so others can quickly see the comment without having to search for it embedded deep within the document. Posted comments display on the View window and show the comment contents, who posted it and when. Of course, you can still use comment capabilities inherent to the file’s native application, but the Novell Teaming comment feature gives you a more visible option that can be used to provide general comments on the entire document collaboration or review process.
Since Novell Teaming indexes all stored documents in a single, easy-to-use index, you don’t have to waste time hunting for files if you can’t remember the workspace or folder where they are. A quick search can give you the location link, as well as links to relevant wiki pages and discussion forums, if desired. Additionally, regardless of how you use Novell Teaming to manage your document lifecycles, its built-in access controls enable you to restrict access to those documents. Access can be granted to specific teams or specific users, or can be based on inherited rights.
Get in the Flow
The custom forms and workflow capabilities in Novell Teaming also give you the ability to add formal structure and automated processes to the management of your documents. A simple example is using a workflow to force a review of certain documents every few months by particular team members. A more elaborate example would involve having a workflow automatically govern the whole process of checking in file updates, notifying team members to review the files, warn team members when final updates are due, move documents through different staging folders as the review cycle progresses and more.
These workflow capabilities also enable you to go beyond just managing content contained in files that you upload or import; they also give you a means to manage content posted in wikis, discussion forums or landing pages as well.
For example, you might have a landing page where you
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publish internal articles each month on workplace safety or improving customer relationships. Custom forms and workflows could be created to handle the process from initial article submission by the author to reviews for language and technical accuracy. The documents could move from various staging folders as different versions are accepted or rejected until it is approved for publication and automatically transitioned onto the landing page. (See Figure 7.) In fact, the Novell Teaming Library contains an article review workflow template that you can download and customize to fit your organization’s needs. (Visit novell.com/communities/coolsolutions/teaminglibrary.)
Managing all the content users and teams generate in support of your organization’s success is no small task. By leveraging the embedded workflow capabilities in Novell Teaming, your users can take on much of the responsibility themselves—easily creating business processes to transition documents and content throughout the entire organization. It even gives every user the power to document their work and processes to make the whole organization more efficient and productive.
It’s understood that full-featured document management is out of reach for most users and businesses due to its expense and complexity. However, the basic, yet powerful capabilities in Novell Teaming deliver many of the essential document sharing, tracking, versioning and process controls that most organizations need. Even though you might not initially leverage Novell Teaming for document management, that functionality can easily become an integral and highly customizable part of your core collaboration platform at no additional cost—and that's always a welcome benefit.