One of the advantages of using a content management application like SmartCabinet® is its ability to tell you how a piece of content is being used at a given point in time. For example, imagine you’re submitting a project bid to a new client. You’ve created a project proposal but it has to be approved by finance, legal, and someone in operations before you can send it out. You sent it off to finance yesterday but you didn’t get anything back. What’s happening with it now?
You could knock on office doors, make a bunch of phone calls, or send off a slew of e-mails, but if no one answers your query, you won’t get the information you need. Fortunately, SmartCabinet® can manage the document’s progress for you using a workflow.
A workflow is a set of steps specifying a process a piece of content goes through. Organizations use processes all the time to increase efficiency, improve consistency, and insure compliance with policies and regulations. Your project plan has a process to go through: from draft review to finance, to legal and eventually to operations for final approval. Every project proposal you create will follow these same steps in this same order. That makes this process a perfect candidate for a SmartCabinet® workflow.
Here’s what your Project Approval workflow might look like:
Instead of e-mailing your project to marketing, or printing a copy, putting it in a manila envelope and using a routing slip, you can assign a workflow to your Project upon New Check In into SmartCabinet®. When checking in a new piece of content, after selecting the Folder location, you have the option to choose a Workflow by selecting the Configure... button on the New Check In page.
The Selected Workflow "Configure..." button will open a new window which allows you to select a workflow using the Configure Workflow Wizard.
When you check your project in and put it into a workflow, SmartCabinet® automatically routes the document to the next person in the list, in this case, it’s the person in finance. When your finance person finishes her work, she’ll check the document back in, and SmartCabinet® will notify each person in the workflow via e-mail when it’s their turn to work on the document. Participants in the workflow can also find out where a document is by looking at its workflow history.
Check-In and Check-Out
With so much content, and so many people wanting to use it, we need to make sure two or more people don’t alter the same piece of content at the same time. To prevent this from happening, SmartCabinet® uses a standard way of tracking content called “check-in and check-out.”
Think of SmartCabinet® as a library. At any time, you can tell the application that you want to “check out” a document. Until you check the document back in, other users can view it and make copies but they can’t change it. If someone tries to check it out, SmartCabinet® will notify them that the document is unavailable because you’re currently working with it.
To check out a document, browse or search until you find it. Then select Check Out from the Actions menu:
Until you finish with the document, no one else can use it. While the document is checked out, SmartCabinet® helps you keep track of it by putting it in a collection called My Checked-Out Content. To view your checked-out content, open the My SmartCabinet tray and click on My Checked-Out Content:
When you’ve finished working with the document, this is where you’ll return to check it back in. Just locate the document in the list of checked-out content and select Check In from the Actions menu.
When you choose Check In from the Actions menu, SmartCabinet® takes you to the Content Check In Form with all the metadata already filled in. All you have to do is click the Browse button by the Primary File field to load the file, followed by the Check In button at the bottom.
SmartCabinet® automatically updates all date and time information and increments the revision number.
Every time a piece of content is checked in, checked out, or manipulated within the system in some way, SmartCabinet® updates that piece of content’s history. A piece of content’s history looks like this:
The Content History page provides a complete record of all content activity including what actions were performed, when they were performed, and who performed them. Being able to view a document’s history can help you track down errors in current versions, improve compliance with company policies and legal requirements, and tell you where a document is relative to a workflow. SmartCabinet® tracks each piece of content throughout its entire life cycle.