What is a Document?

I am constantly advocating moving from a Document Centric way of working to more Data Centric world. I try here to make people think about what is a document

Slide42A document is a “Container of Information” in the form of words, sentences, paragraphs, tables, diagrams. Together with data about the document: its number, the title, author, references etc.

All this information is put into this self-contained envelope (document) and transmitted to recipients or put into storage for later use. The document is deemed correct when it is approved

We use documents as a way of transmitting information.

Slide45Pdf is the most likely mechanism by which  supplier – customer information is transmitted. It is no coincidence that pdf stands for portable data format.

But what is actually happening is that the supplier of information creates the pdf from its own databases and the recipient then takes the information within the document and updates their own systems

Its a type of protectionism: If I want to give you a document and I want to make sure you cannot change it, then I will convert my original to pdf format.

I’m protected! My intellectual property is protected (well almost) and the pdf document forms a “trusted” interchange between us.

But how much better would the world be if the supplier gave the original data to the customer and we moved from our Document Centric world to a Data Centric world?

I will talk more about Building Information Modelling (BIM) and Data Centric Configuration Management in other posts but back to the topic of “What is a Document?” 

A Document is a Standalone Database

Every document contains data but every document is “self-contained”. A document may reference other documents but the “connection” is not hardwired. There is no guarantee that the referenced document exists or includes the information the referencing document claims it does.(unless you have an intelligent document management system).

This means that information held within a document is difficult to verify or cross-check against other information.

The only verification mechanism is the approval signature on the document

Modern tools can give us Google-like searches and techniques such as Big Data may help us structure searches in the future but the reality is that when you are searching millions and millions of documents, then it will become increasingly difficult to find and trust the information.




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