Collaboration and One Source of the Truth

Oct 5, 2010 | Blog


In a software demo for a Content Management application, there were two slides about Collaboration I really related to.  These two slides are my favorite because the represent the two types of way we share information and what happens in these processes.  The two slides were “Uncontrolled Collaboration” and “Controlled Collaboration” for Engineering and Construction Management.

Uncontrolled Collaboration

The Uncontrolled Collaboration slide visually represented how collaboration without a Document Management system using emails and ftp sites would create multiple versions of drawings and not everyone would have the luxury of working with the latest version.  There were multiple versions of the same file in an uncontrolled environment in multiple email accounts and on various networks.

Controlled Collaboration

The Controlled Collaboration slide was simplistic.  It represented the ability to go to a single source for the truth while increasing communication and decreasing errors.  Overall costs were reduced.  It showed the elimination of duplicate files and increase efficiency.

Document Management solutions mirror the “revision” concept with Engineering and Design with revision control.  They also provide you a single source of the truth to reference.  Part of a successful Document Management solution includes gathering ALL sources of the possible information (email, archives, paper data, electronic files on individual systems etc).

All sources of information include historical archives on Microfilm, Microfiche, Aperture Cards and Paper.  Now, you might say, “they are not accurate or the latest version” but should there be a gap in the information you do have, at least you will have a beginning to work with and you can find it.

There are most likely duplicates of the information on paper on Aperture Cards and Film since these methods of archiving were so prevalent before scanning (and some use today).  I had encountered this very situation on a couple of projects involved in scanning ALL Engineering Drawings.  The client questioned whether or not they should spend the money to get information on Microfilm, Microfiche and Aperture Card data into their system.  My recommendation was “it is better to have it and not need it then need it and not have it”.


Sure, there was the possibility of duplicate files of the filmed data and the scanned paper drawings, but the bottom line is that you are creating a single source of the truth which you can control.

Trust is not an easy thing to gain (especially for those addicted to paper) but you can build trust and faith in a system when you know what you have to work with.