Engineers have developed a reputation for being dependable and reliable, however, many engineers often struggle to collaborate adequately given the vast numbers of drawings and documents.  For engineers, what may appear to be a small task at first can quickly expand into something far more complicated, and if the task is not properly managed, it's easy to lose control over the project.

So how do you regain control?

Finding Your Documents and Drawings

When you’re managing hundreds, thousands, or even millions of documents, locating a specific document or drawing feels a little bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.  Even when using some EDMS (Electronic Document Management Systems), you may find yourself, or your colleagues, spending a lot of time searching and digging for files.

A study by Gartner concluded that professionals spend 50 percent of their time searching for information – roughly 18 minutes per document.  Workers are wasting precious time searching for information when they could be focusing more on the tasks necessary to complete the company’s objectives.

So how do you tackle this issue?

ImageSite includes a Full Text Search module, which allows document searches to be performed based on the contents in documents and drawings.  It can search through various file types, including AutoCAD, Word, PDF, Excel, PowerPoint, Email, and ASCII files. It can do this because as files are uploaded to the system it indexes every character and word in these files.  Put simply, it works much like a search engine that locates words on indexed web pages that match your search criteria.

The Full Text Search option displays a simple user interface in the Search UI to find words or character strings (e.g., part numbers) within a document or drawing. Additionally, wild card values, Boolean operators, and proximity values can be used to perform full text searches, either using the document’s metadata, or the document’s content.

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Managing Collaboration

Engineers often encounter issues over collaboration, as multiple engineers must often review the same files and documents simultaneously or consecutively. Though many engineers like to work alone, that’s not to say that engineers can’t work well together.  Encouraging collaboration by bringing engineers together over specific tasks, deliverables, or file updates is key to improving productivity and reducing errors.

There are several ways ImageSite helps engineers promote collaboration - the first being version control.

Version control is the practice of tracking and managing changes to documents and drawings as they are made within the EDMS.  The software automatically recognizes changes made and incrementally updates the file’s version letter or number (depending on the designated versioning scheme).  The versioning scheme can consist of numbers or letters, and can even be alphanumerical depending on the preferences of your organization, making it easy for engineers to adapt to the new system.

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Notifications are yet another way ImageSite helps engineers make collaboration more manageable.  ImageSite uses internal/external notifications to inform system administrators, outside contacts, or other permissioned users when a document has been modified, checked-out, checked-in, uploaded, approved, and more.  This ensures you have the information you need, and can identify when document revisions have been made, without having to spend unnecessary time routinely searching through the system and scanning for changes.

Lastly, ImageSite includes robust markup (redlining) capabilities that allow you to collaborate over drawings, in real-time, with multiple users simultaneously.  System users can add shapes, symbols, text, and even audio and video elements to suggested changes, creating a clear picture of the changes needed to be made or any outstanding questions.  Markups can even be created on mobile devices, ensuring engineers have access to the information they need from any location, at any time.

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Governing Workflows 

Within engineering, workflow refers to the processes through which engineers create and review data or documents.  Engineering workflows are often complex, and if not managed properly, can lead to unwanted bottlenecks, project delays, and worse, tasks falling through the cracks.

Document-centric workflows tend to be linear in the sense that one step must be completed before advancing to another.  Though these workflows typically abide by the conditions of their review and approval processes.  For example, rejected documents need to be revised before they can advance to another step which will require the document to bounce to another step in the workflow.  When using approvals in ImageSite, admins can configure the workflow so all must approve, any can approve, or they can leave the approval up to a majority vote.  Once the document has been either approved or rejected, the document moves to the next applicable workflow step.

ImageSite can also automate workflow processes, including all actions taken to a document.  Using simple rule-based logic, you can control the actions taken by the system, eliminating the number of steps required to complete critical tasks.  These actions include transferring, publishing, deleting, copying, and archiving, and also provides users with the ability to automatically launch a transmittal.

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Making the Change

Engineering isn’t easy; however, it doesn’t always have to be difficult.  Advances in EDMS technology can improve collaboration, simplify workflows, and significantly reduce search times, ensuring the highest level of productivity for your team.  Now, it's easier than ever before to deploy an EDMS, as Engine-Box (the Cloud version of ImageSite) is now available on AWS Marketplace.  With the click of a button, you can get access to all the features listed above, and get unlimited implementation support.

If you want to learn more about ImageSite (our on-premise system), click here. If you want to learn more about Engine-Box (our Cloud system), click here. If you want to learn more about AWS Marketplace, click here. Or, to schedule a demo, click here.