The term Transactional Content Management (TCM) has often been associated with legacy imaging systems, which created a perception that the functionality is no longer required, which is far from the truth.

Document management is a broad term and when we dig a little deeper there are different kinds. The two we are discussing here are collaborative and transactional content management systems. What are the differences and why do we need to distinguish?

Understanding the Differences

Collaborative document management is driven by the process of content creation. Microsoft SharePoint is a great example of this, allowing multiple users to edit Office documents at once. Transactional systems manage documents that have resulted from a transaction and are more data driven than collaborative systems.

Examples of Transactional Documents

The following list determines the different types of transactional documents:

  1. Purchases Orders and Invoices
  2. Loan Documents
  3. Accounts Holder or Member Documents
  4. Statements
  5. Corporate Reports
  6. Case Files (Medical Records, Housing Authority Documents, Insurance Claims etc.)

Characteristics of a Transactional Document Solution

Transactional documents can be high-volume…often in the millions, so the taxonomy to classify these documents needs to be robust to be able to find the proverbial “needle in the haystack”. Whereas the functionality of a collaborative solution is around the content creation, the transaction system is about access and data association. Storing index values (data about documents) provides a consistent mechanism for classification to allow the documents to be easily accessed whatever the volume. The data values often live within the content of the document, but you can’t rely on a full-text search.

Extracting the data to live within a database allows more powerful queries and data analysis. Transactional systems typically require more upfront planning and thought to make sure these taxonomies are correct and will stand the test of time. By comparison collaborative systems can be easier to setup which is why cloud-based solutions tend towards this functionality to reduce the initial onboarding to quickly capture the customer base.

The Secret is in Intelligent Capture

When designing a transactional taxonomy to make the documents accessible, the inclination is to just add more data associated with the documents. You must also ask the question…how do you assign the data to the documents?

This is where intelligent capture solutions come to the forefront. The more intelligence and automation you have around extracting and assigning data values the more efficient the process…and the more different types of documents the business is likely to process and store.

Isn’t a Transactional System a Scanning Solution?

This used to be the case early in the evolution of the industry, but more and more transactional documents are created and delivered digitally, which again turns the focus on the document capture solution. Your solution must be much more than just scanning to ingest documents from multiple digital channels, many of which may be cloud-based.

The By Product of a Transactional System

If we view a document as a vehicle to receive and distribute data between departments and organizations, then extracting this data becomes a valuable input into any data analytics platform. The transactional document solution is a great archive, but the ability to distribute extracted and validated data to third-party systems and platforms is a great value add.

More than One Document Repository?

Historically the move was to enterprise document management, a central repository that contains all documents and functionality. In today’s business landscape this is difficult to achieve. Mergers and acquisitions and the ease of onboarding cloud- based solutions (Office 365, Google) often lead to multiple repositories. Classifying your systems as transactional and collaborative may alleviate the pressure of a central repository. The key is not necessarily centralizing documents into one system, but to put policies in place to understand what document types are in the different systems.

In Summary…

Transactional systems have a part to play in any organization and need to be included in your digital transformation strategy. The key is to understand the data locked in documents and what business applications require it.