Implementation of OpenKM, an open-source document management system, to store, manage and track electronic documents captured through the use of a document scanner.
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) is the world’s largest non-profit organization devoted to upholding the Armenian heritage through educational, cultural, socio-economic and humanitarian programs. Each year, AGBU is committed to making a difference in the lives of 500,000 people across Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian diaspora. Headquartered in New York City, AGBU has an active presence in 31 countries and 74 cities and addresses the needs of Armenians with traditional and progressive programs worldwide —from schools, scouts, camps and support for the arts to internships, virtual learning and young professional networks.
As a result of an assessment on the organization's current state of technology utilization, it was identified that AGBU would need a document management system to index and store confidential financial, legal, and HR records.
AGBU had a significant number of physical records and documents, stored in file cabinets. These included original endowment documents (some dating back decades) and supporting agreements, statements and correspondence, as well as annual reports, financial and HR documents, board meeting minutes, etc.
Of particular concern was preservation of the paper-based endowments, many of which were extremely fragile due to the age of the paper, the manner in which the materials were stored, and the lack of suitable climate controls in the AGBU office. These documents are the perpetual proof of the funded endowments and we recommended that AGBU digitize these materials to maximize accessibility, security, and searchability.
AGBU’s goal was to scan these historical records and then to store the digital versions, together with associated metadata, in a secure online document repository for archival, search and retrieval. Our team worked together with AGBU to analyze the current state, outline a best practice scanning and archival strategy for digitizing and tagging physical records, define a metadata model and categorization structure, and make a recommendation for document management technology that would best meet AGBU’s current and future needs.
AGBU next retained our team, led by Tracy Gardner to implement OpenKM, an open-source document management system, to store, manage and track electronic documents captured through the use of a document scanner.
OpenKM is a document management software that integrates all essential document management, collaboration and an advanced search functionality into one system. The system also includes administration tools to define the user roles and permissions, document security and access control, detailed logs of activity and automation setup.
On behalf of AGBU, we provisioned an AWS environment, then gave access to the OpenKM technical team to install OpenKM in the cloud. Our team then configured OpenKM to meet the defined requirements, which included taxonomy, categories, metadata fields and user profiles.
Concurrently, we worked with the OpenKM product team to implement a process that would simplify the digitization workflow by applying validation rules and automating actions on documents without user intervention. The custom automation is triggered when a new endowment document is scanned with a templated cover page and uploaded into OpenKM. Then, the OpenKM OCR engine extracts endowment specific data from the cover page, uses that data to create a unique folder structure for each endowment and populates metadata fields such as Endowment Name, Purpose, Country of Origin, and Year. This customization reduces operational time and improves accuracy by allowing staff resources to focus on organizing, then scanning the thousands of records rather than by manual data entry.
AGBU quickly saw the value of OpenKM and decided to explore other use cases. Next, we configured taxonomy and metadata to support AGBU corporate documents. AGBU began and continues to scan and upload these documents, such as presidential correspondence, annual reports, meeting minutes, board member biographies and other business correspondence.
As the scanning process continued, AGBU found that the organization's scanner did not support optical character recognition (OCR) of Armenian-language documents. Though the OpenKM OCR engine does support Armenian, these documents would only be searchable within OpenKM, preventing external resources from searching the content of a downloaded Armenian document offline. We worked with the OpenKM product team to implement another customization, which would convert each document to PDF/A, fitting the OCR text layer with the image position. With this customization, the Armenian language documents are now also searchable outside of OpenKM, and will allow AGBU to download and deliver searchable documents to external constituents.
To help AGBU staff transition to the new system, we trained key staff members in the use of OpenKM and its supporting staff resources in the scanning and uploading of hundreds of document records, consisting of thousands of pages, into the searchable repository organized into AGBU-specific categories.
Using the taxonomy and categories, end users can browse for documents or since OpenKM automatically extracts recognizable text from scanned documents (OCR), users can quickly locate a document using the built-in full-text search. From the search results, users can then preview the document pages, or download the document for printing or for delivery to an external resource.
AGBU successfully launched the OpenKM implementation in February 2019. With our help, AGBU has transitioned to an open-source document management solution that allows the organization to preserve records, maintain evidence and information about activities and transactions, and make these documents accessible to authorized users in the organization.
OpenKM ensures that AGBU’s digital records are maintained in a safe and secure environment and protects the integrity of historical records to meet the organization’s requirements and expectations.