Today’s businesses must be agile and flexible so that they can plan and execute to win in fast moving markets. They need a morass of detail and data about buildings, spaces, assets and branding at their fingertips to enable fast decision-making. With each decision they must maintain standards and consistency across the business, keep branding consistent, and protect against errors. This places a huge dependency on the systems that hold all of that information and creates risk if the data isn’t complete and correct. It’s critical to have exactly the right system and solution in place to keep everything under control.
Document management system or Database management system?
Piles of paper and shelves full of manuals and files have, thankfully, been consigned to history by most major organisations, who were glad to embrace document management solutions that brought them into the modern era. Small wonder: PDF documents and manuals helped free them from groaning filing cabinets, over-stuffed box-files and manuals overload. The promise of electronic document management was compelling. Spreadsheets had made data handling on the desktop so simple and publishing electronic documents had become effortless thanks to office software, so electronic document management made complete sense.
The problem is: that approach is sometimes not supportive enough for the speed and flexibility of information access that is needed by many businesses. Document formats in many cases now also need to be dynamic to hold changing data.
Database management for Specifications and Standards
Whether the business is in retail and planning out a new store build or a manufacturer planning a new production facility, database management systems are fully optimised to handle design specifications, asset details, and other standard data.
Here are 3 dynamite reasons to upgrade to dynamic database-driven content management for specifications and standards:
- Consistency and control – the workload for detailing specification is often shared between different disciplines. Architects, engineers, FM leaders and facility managers may all be involved in specifications for a building, while designers and marketers may be busy creating brand and other templated approaches. Different groups have unique perspectives, norms, language and lexicon. Even with clear document templates, that creates disconnects and dissimilarities in documents across the business. Digital templates managed from a central database assure total consistency in how information is displayed and can constrain how information is inputted by contributors. Some systems, including our own IconSystem solution, also allows for an editorial controller to determine stylesheets and designs centrally.
- Getting to ‘complete’ – completing large documents and manuals can be challenging because when compiling a specification ‘manual’ designed to hold the complete information to support something, it is frequently the case that it takes longer than intended to publish. The vast majority can be ready, yet publishing is delayed due to a few, final details. Sometimes, getting to ‘complete’ is a moving goal. With a digitally driven specification system, sets of data are held in individual units which means completed data can be published instantly, without delaying any other element.
- Conflicting or duplicated data – an original piece of specification data which starts in one location can often later on become something referenced by two or more types of specification or featuring in multiple documents. This creates huge challenges in maintaining the currency and correctness of that information – and an additional need to track its usage and audit the trail of amendments. With a single digital instance of data there is only one place to make or manage amendments, reducing the potential for error or conflict, and making correct data instantly available everywhere.
Modern businesses are increasingly depending on systems that help them maintain a single version of the truth and make that appropriately accessible, manageable and valuable across the organisation even as it grows and changes. The business benefits of a dynamic database-driven content management system to help manage designs, specifications and standards are numerous.
If you’re considering a move to a software solution to keep all design, standards, policies and other information under control, why not check out the IconSystem specification and standards solution