FAQ - Frequently asked questions about bitfarm-Archiv DMS
Introductory information on many aspects of bitfarm-Archiv can be found in our FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions). If your questions are not answered in the FAQs, we will gladly be of assistance via e-mail (email@example.com) or telephone (+49 (0)271 / 31 396 - 0).
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Working with the DMS
Is bitfarm-Archiv DMS as open source software more complicated than "closed source" DMS/ECM systems?
This is sometimes assumed, but it is not true.
bitfarm-Archiv Document Management is delivered as ready-to-use software. No one has to operate a compiler or anything like that first. There are practical tools and graphical interfaces for configuration. The user interface has even received several awards for its intuitive usability.
In fact, bitfarm-Archiv DMS in the Enterprise Edition offers many configuration options and thus meets all requirements for professional document management in the company. Often there are even several ways how certain tasks can be solved with the
DMS. Maintaining an overview here and pulling the right stops when configuring document structures and processes requires a fundamental understanding of the possibilities of the DMS. However, this does not only apply to bitfarm-Archiv, but to all enterprise-class DMS/ECM systems.
Due to the source code availability of an open source system, there is of course the possibility to intervene in the programming, and this is then certainly also complicated. However, this is only an additional option that proprietary systems do not offer. The fact that it is possible to adapt the programming does not mean that it is necessary. 99% of our enterprise customers use the
document management system (DMS) without interfering with the source code, but use our standardized interfaces for individual adaptations. Due to the source code availability of an
open source document management system, there is of course the possibility to intervene in the programming, and this is then certainly also complicated.
However, this is only an additional option that proprietary systems do not offer. The fact that it is possible to adapt the programming does not mean that it is necessary. 99% of our enterprise customers use the DMS without interfering with the source code, but use our standardized interfaces for individual adaptations.
What are the advantages of the open source concept?
For the customer, the
advantages of the open Source concept
are, on the one hand, that no license costs are incurred. This keeps the total costs within economic limits. On the other hand, open source software can be adapted extremely flexibly to special requirements. The open source code also means that the customer is not necessarily tied to a single provider. With the appropriate IT specialists, the system can also be continued without the manufacturer if necessary.
The open source concept also includes the use of generally accepted, open standards for document storage. This makes the creation of the digital archive a sustainable benefit, rather than a one-way street. It is possible at any time to transfer documents and metadata to other systems, or to transfer them, which is impossible with some proprietary systems because container formats are used. These cannot be opened without the respective software. With open source systems like bitfarm-Archiv DMS, on the other hand, you always have access to your own documents.
The open source concept also offers advantages for us developers. Access to a worldwide pool of open source software components means that not every function has to be developed from scratch. This saves resources and ultimately makes the open source concept a very economical and modern form of software development, which then also pays off for the customer.
Since open source software components have existed for many years in some cases and thousands of users worldwide work with them every day, bugs are discovered more quickly and reported to the developer community. This is a transparent, publicly viewable process, just like the error correction and the final result. This way, secure and powerful software is created, such as the database MySQL, which is stable, performant and low-maintenance and has become a standard in the meantime. Also bitfarm-Archiv relies (among others) on MySQL.The security of open source software is (at least theoretically) higher, because the behavior of the program, i.e. what really happens, can be studied by anyone interested. Open source software is not a "black box". This makes it easier to detect (and fix) security flaws or even backdoors than with closed systems.
Is there any warranty or guarantee at all for open source software?
The same laws apply to royalty-free open source software as to any other software. The product liability law is valid, regardless of whether license fees are charged or not. The same applies to the warranty. All errors and bugs in the system will be fixed immediately and of course free patches and updates will be provided to the customers. The bitfarm GmbH also gives a warranty on the complete system if it has been installed by a bitfarm employee or an appropriately qualified partner.
Do I need to have programming skills to work with the GPL or Enterprise version?
Programming knowledge is not required to work with the DMS. All functions are available in the form of graphical menus and are fully developed. The software can be installed "out of the box" and then used immediately. Also on the part of the administration no programming knowledge is expected. Programming work would be required at most to make special adjustments. In addition, there is the possibility to insert plugins as release-fixed program components, for example as scripts. All functions, which can be taken from this web page and the appropriate documentations and accompanying materials, are however already completely developed and are made available in the total package.
Which platforms are supported?
bitfarm-Archiv DMS requires on the server side a Windows Server from 2008 R2 SP2, 2012, 2016, 2019 or 2022. For very small installations (e.g. 5 user office) Windows 7, 8 or 10 can also be used as "server". Linux can be used as a database server for MySQL and, with limitations, as a file server. However, the standard recommendation for medium installations is to use a standard server or VM with Windows operating system. Linux is not required for this.
Windows is also used on the client side, and all Windows versions from Windows 8.1 are compatible. The client is also terminal server capable. There is also the installation-free access option via the browser (web viewer), as well as an app for Android and iOS.
What are the recommendations for a server?
The requirements for a server scale according to the number of users, the total number of documents expected and the new documents added per day. For small installations, the server does not need to be much better equipped than a standard office PC, although a RAID system (RAID 1, 5, 10), a UPS and a data backup facility are generally essential. For medium requirements, industry-standard servers with current multi-core processors and memory of 16GB or more should be used. For large installations, multiple servers are necessary for load balancing of the archiving process (OCR). Virtualization can also be used without restrictions.
To ensure good performance of the search functions, the rule of thumb should be 12GB of memory for the database per 1 million documents.
Which scanners does bitfarm recommend?
Above all, a document scanner must be able to deliver good document quality. Good document scanners therefore automatically adjust brightness / contrast to the respective original to be scanned. The results are documents in which, even with difficult originals, the writing is captured in black throughout and the background in white. The settings should be selected in such a way that no "pixel raster" is created for grayscale. Only in this way can the text recognition system, which supplies the database on the server with search terms for the document, work reliably. This in turn has the advantage that further manual keywording (to find the documents later) is no longer necessary, since you can rely on the text recognition.
In addition, a good document scanner should be able to capture documents in duplex and automatically straighten them. The paper feed should also be able to process 50 pages or more without paper jams. An ultrasonic sensor to detect pages "sticking" to each other is also important to ensure the complete capture of a document at all times (required "process security" of the GoBD). bitfarm GmbH has tested several scanners and can recommend the devices from Kodak and Fujitsu. TWAIN scanners are directly supported by the DMS. Network scanners can also be used and may have the advantage that they are centrally located and can be used without a PC. However, in contrast to USB scanners, not all functions of the DMS are available here. This includes scanning, viewing, stacking and indexing in one operation with the importer.
Can documents be exported to self-supporting archives?
This is possible. You can "collect" any number of documents in the viewer and then export them together. When exporting, not only a loose file collection is created, but rather a complete database including search interface is written to CD/DVD/USB stick. The export can, for example, be handed over to an auditor (keyword access right Z3, data transfer, GoBD). On an export archive it is also possible to work with the documents (e.g. Office files).
Can I delete documents?
When deleting, a distinction must be made between audit-proof and non-audit-proof documents. In general, all scans and prints are stored in an audit-proof manner. For Office files, a system-wide default setting regulates the behavior. As long as these documents are not stored in an audit-proof manner, they can be deleted. The revision security can be set in the Viewer for each document that has not yet been stored. There is a "workaround" for revision-safe documents, namely moving them to another folder, called "Recycle Bin", for example. This does not delete the document, it is still there, only it is not found again in its original archive, but only during searches via the recycle bin, which can, however, be limited to the administrators, for example.
The Enterprise version also offers comprehensive, so-called "Document Lifecycle Management" (DLM). This allows you to define deletion periods for documents and data depending on the date of creation, associated categories, status of processing and other criteria. When the deletion date is reached, the relevant documents and accompanying data are automatically deleted. Reports can be created and included in the documentation at any time to maintain the manual of processing activities and to prove GoBD-compliant archiving.
Why does bitfarm-Archiv not offer a DMS drive?
Although it may seem simpler at first and require no training effort, a DMS designed as a Windows drive falls short in our opinion. It does not offer the necessary functions required for professional electronic document management in a company.
bitfarm-Archiv therefore relies on a real client, the viewer or the mobile app. These programs offer direct, visual access to the document and all associated data in a clear and intuitive interface. Each document is displayed immediately, regardless of the underlying format. The user does not need to wait for another software to start in order to view the document.
Browsing through documents, scrolling through pages, zooming and navigating in the document thus work quickly and smoothly. Documents can be sorted as lists according to all metadata, so that the user can find his way optimally even in larger result sets. With just two clicks, the user can go from one document to all documents that have specific content references to this document, i.e. that belong to the same order, project or product, for example.
The context menu on the right mouse button shows frequently used options and drag & drop is also possible at any time. All this takes place in a customizable interface that almost does without opening sub-windows. In addition, there are also graphical tools that can be used directly in the main screen, such as the popular "Post-its". And of course the important business functions as buttons directly in the main interface. Also keyboard operability, jump back to the last document at any time, favorites, bookmarks, history. This is how a DMS works optimally for the user.
Speaking of training effort: What is not needed can of course be hidden. The effort for user training depends on what the users are supposed to do in the DMS. For simple research and viewing, the training effort is virtually zero, since bitfarm-Archiv has a universal full-text search mask, similar to an Internet search engine, which also searches all other available metadata. The user only needs to enter one or more terms, numbers, etc., and has his documents immediately in front of his eyes.
By the way, there is a DMS drive in bitfarm-Archiv after all, namely the import folder(s) that can be mapped as a drive. Everything that the user (or any automated system, e.g. network scanner, fax server, etc.) puts there is automatically put into the DMS. In addition, for other import tasks, there is integration with the Windows context menus, as well as the drag & drop function. This works not only from Windows, but also from Outlook and some other standard programs.
Is it possible to implement automatic, electronic invoice dispatch with bitfarm-Archiv?
This is possible with the Enterprise version. A workflow can be configured so that, for example, each newly archived outgoing invoice is automatically sent to the customer as a PDF by e-mail. For this, only the e-mail address must be noted on the invoice, or to the customer number in a database. bitfarm-Archiv logs every single document including the transfer to the e-mail server, so that the proper dispatch can be traced at any time. Since 2011, the sending of invoices by e-mail has even been valid in Germany without a signature. Invoices sent in this way now have the same legal status as conventional paper invoices.Of course, there are corresponding protocols and logs for the outgoing mail traffic initiated by bitfarm in order to be able to track the correct outgoing.
Can I also manage my contacts and appointments in bitfarm-Archiv?
bitfarm-Archiv is a document management system and by its conception designed for documents, processes and files as "objects". Contacts can be managed insofar as e.g. business cards can be scanned. These can then be classified and also searched. For Outlook and other mail systems, a .vcf file is also created automatically, but bitfarm-Archiv is rather designed to work closely with the corresponding systems and not to replace them completely. Outlook and other groupware systems are therefore not replaced by bitfarm-Archiv DMS, but complemented. The same applies to CRM, PPS and ERP systems. The DMS sees itself as an information platform that serves as a "substructure" for all other operational software systems. To ensure smooth cooperation with these systems, bitfarm-Archiv offers numerous interfaces and plugins.
Is the system multi-client capable?
Yes, you can manage multiple clients with the system, which may well be hosted as separate databases at different locations. A user can then specify at login which database / location he wants to log in to.
What options are there for mobile access? Is there an app for tablets and smartphones?
With bitfarm-Archiv, access to the document database is possible not only via the Windows client, but also via the browser and the bitfarm-Archiv mobile app for Android and iOS. Searching and viewing documents, printing and sending via email, participating in workflows and bookmarking are the main features for mobile users. However, some editing functions, such as creating notes, are reserved for the Windows client, but it can be used on the go via VPN. For access to documents without connection to the server, the bitfarm-Archiv offline viewer is available, which can be used to work on self-sufficient database extracts.
How scalable is the solution?
bitfarm-Archiv Document Management is a highly scalable DMS application. The storage space of the documents is only limited by the available hard disk space, but nowadays this is in the terabyte range and thus offers space for many millions of documents. With bitfarm-Archiv, the documents are not stored in the database, but directly on the server, so that the database only contains the metadata and remains relatively small. Through highly optimized "stored procedures", which adapt to the amount of documents, search times of a few seconds can still be achieved even with several million documents (even in the full text search, as the search over the complete content!).
Another feature of the software is the division of the server into several functional units, so that an optimal load distribution over several machines is possible. A computing cluster can be formed for the OCR function - a standard function of the DMS that can be set up quickly. Up to several tens of thousands of documents can be newly captured, indexed and stored or archived in the DMS on a daily basis. Meanwhile, the number of users who can work with the DMS scales from small workgroups to a corporate solution comprising several thousand users. Multiple servers can also be configured. For companies with different locations, for example, each location can be equipped with its own server. We would be happy to provide you with suitable references in your size range.
Is bitfarm-Archiv audit-proof?
Revision security is important so that documents do not have to be kept in the original anymore. bitfarm-Archiv DMS has effective mechanisms to prevent the modification of a scanned or printed document. For example, there is no delete function in the system for revision-safe documents ( bitfarm-Archiv also knows non-revision-safe documents and offers a delete function here). Soft-WORM procedures for storage on hard disks (recommended) or
Hard-WORM / UDO jukeboxes can be used on request. In both variants, audit security according to
GoBD can be proven for the financial authorities with a procedure documentation.
Can I destroy my original documents if I use an archive system?
If the archiving system used is
audit-proof, receipts are also eligible for input tax deduction in their exclusively digital form. Digital documents are then also sufficient for a tax audit. The auditor can demand that the documents are retrieved upon request, he can retrieve them himself and he can demand a data transfer of the documents. bitfarm-Archiv DMS offers all these possibilities. In addition, self-supporting archives can be created and transferred to CD / DVD together with a search interface.
It should be noted, however, that in contrast to fiscally relevant documents, legally relevant documents that require a signature must be kept in the original. Also, the above mentioned rules may differ outside germany.
Does bitfarm-Archiv handle full-text search?
full text search is integrated in bitfarm-Archiv and is a highlight in terms of speed and accuracy. Omnipage 19 "Ultimate" as the leading text recognition component ensures quasi error-free recognition of paper documents in the DMS Enterprise edition, making full text search a simple and intuitive search method for everyday use. During the full text search, keywords and database fields are also searched at the same time, so that the user actually only has to enter his search terms in the full text field in the ideal case, thus enabling an extremely simple approach, as known from Internet search engines.
The full-text search of bitfarm-Archiv is appreciated and frequently used by many users, as it works very performantly and accurately. Tests on standard hardware have shown search times of less than 2 seconds in 300,000 documents.
Is it possible to build versioning with bitfarm-Archiv DMS?
Versioning is possible with the Enterprise edition. An SVN system (SubVersioNing) is integrated, which then either automatically logs each saving of a document as a change or requires a manual commit. In addition, a document can be locked for exclusive editing by other users via
Check In / Check Out. The mechanism also allows documents to be taken along on trips, for example, and the changed version then restored later. Of course, version numbers and revisions can also be counted
Are the 4-eyes principle and ISO 9001 workflows supported?
The workflow system also allows
ISO 9001 workflows to be defined according to the 4-eyes principle. For example, a document must first go to a reviewer, who sends it back to the author for revision. If it passes the review, it goes on to at least two approvers, who must both give their OK. Only then is it released and available for production, for example. This is of course only an example, many other scenarios can be configured.
Is it possible to enter additional information such as notes for the electronic documents?
It is possible. Users can use notes (post-its), markers, pens, writing tools, lines, stamps, and so on, both when capturing and at a later time in the viewer. The document itself is not changed; these so-called annotations are merely slides that can be shown or hidden. However, no user can overlook an annotation: these are automatically displayed when an (authorized) user is shown a document. Permissions are used to control who is allowed to create notes on certain documents at all, who is allowed to change them, and who is allowed to delete them if necessary (usually only the author himself). There is also a private note layer for each user, which he can fill with his own notes and to which he can invite other users (share layer, change, notification about new layer etc.).
How does the cooperation with ERP, PPS, CRM and other important operational software systems look like?
For most common operational software systems bitfarm-Archiv DMS offers a comfortable interface. This means that documents created in these systems are automatically transferred to the DMS and also automatically sorted and classified. If the user wants to have documents related to a process, a customer, a product etc. displayed at a later time, he can start the search for them directly from the operational software system by marking the corresponding data field and pressing a simple key combination. Without the need for major customization work, the concept of the "leading application" can be realized in this way. Not only individual documents, but entire case files can be called up and processed directly from the leading system.
In addition to direct access to documents and files, the exchange of data records between the software systems plays a major role. Via the included SQL mapper, bitfarm-Archiv is able to transfer document and transaction related
metadata from any ERP database to which an ODBC connection is possible. The exchange in the opposite direction is possible via standardized exchange formats: Thus, the DMS delivers data in text, CSV or XML format either on an automated trigger or by user action.
Further specialization of the interaction is possible via the plug-in interfaces, which are available with many examples on both the server and client side. A content server according to SAP standards is also implemented in the enterprise version.
SAP document management specific we have know-how for programming the RFC interface, encryption for HR documents and much more. Together with our partners we offer a wide range of solutions for different systems, besides SAP ERP also SAP B1, Microsoft Dynamics NAV and AX, Sage, Infor, PSD, GDI, KSR VCS, MACS, JD Edwards, MR Micro, MIV, Winsolvenz, Datev, Vogler & Hauke Professional ERP, AvERP, Ceos, Miclas, Eurotrade, Immoware24, PPeaSe, Brainstorm, IMAS, Agresso, TOPIX, OfficeWare, C-Logic, ZEB, Diamant, M3B, Inteos, Filemaker, Perfektfibu, Access, MR Micro, GeoVision, Lexware, E3, bäumer industry, FUPA, DINAS, TMS, VSB, COLD, System 2000, Carat and other AS/400 based systems.
If you are unsure whether bitfarm-Archiv can work with your company software, please contact us.
Does bitfarm-Archiv work together with DATEV?
Yes, all automatically recognized or manually added information on documents can be transferred to DATEV (or another financial accounting system) using the CSV export tool. The transfer to FiBu can be transparently inserted into the document process (invoice verification process). The rights system ensures that the transfer to DATEV is only triggered by authorized users and, for example, only when certain framework conditions are met (keywording complete, verification completed).
Can CAD drawings be stored in the DMS?
This is generally possible. bitfarm-Archiv knows different CAD formats, such as DWG, DWF, DXF, PLT, AKT, SLDPRT, SLDASM, SLDDRW and can display them directly in the viewer. This does not require a CAD installation or CAD viewer on the workstations. The files can also be searched by drawing number, for example, using the full text search. Clicking on "Original file" opens the drawing in the CAD system. Of course, drawings can also be keyworded and categorized, as well as assigned to projects.
Is there an overview of all file formats supported by the document management system?
Yes: CDR, EPS, AI, PSD, ZIP, RAR, 7Z, TIF, TIFF, PDF, JPG, BMP, GIF, PNG, HTML, HTM, TXT, XML, ASC, EML, MSG, SLDPRT, SLDASM, SLDDRW, ODT, ODS, ODG, ODP, ODF, OTT, OTP, OTS, OTG, SDW, SXW, STW, SDC, STC, SXC, SDD, STI, SXI, SXD, STD, SDA, SXM, SMF, VOR, AKT, PLT, CSV, XLS, XLT, XLSX, XLSM, XLTX, XLTM, DBF, VCF, DOC, DOT, DOCX, DOCM, DOTX, DOTM, RTF, PPT, PPTX, PPSX, PPS, ASC, DWG, DXF, DWF, PS, PCL, FAX, INI (Functional range of the Enterprise version. Some formats are missing in the GPL version, especially from the CAD area).
Is anything else missing? For formats not listed here, there is the possibility to realize their processing via a server plugin. To get a preview for the bitfarm-Archiv viewer, a command-line tool is needed that can convert this format into one of the already known formats, e.g. PDF, TIF, etc.. This command-line tool is then integrated into the bitfarm-Archiv server and immediately provides the viewer preview, as well as searchable documents. If there is no command line tool for a certain format, this format can still be set in the DMS and e.g. indexed. Only then no preview and also no full text search will be available. However, searching via the additional fields and opening the original file is possible at any time.
Can the documents of a transaction be displayed directly from my ERP?
Documents can be called up directly from the ERP. The user simply marks his search criterion in the ERP with the mouse or draws a frame. The search is then triggered by pressing a key. The search hits are immediately displayed in the DMS viewer.
This and other calls can also be program-controlled and integrated as buttons at various points in the ERP system. The prerequisite for this is that an integrator for your ERP system must include this. Transferring information from documents to ERP systems is also easy to implement.
With which e-mail and fax systems does bitfarm-Archiv DMS work?
bitfarm-Archiv DMS directly supports MS-Outlook with and without Exchange,
e-mail archiving directly on the Exchange server, Lotus-Notes, Tobit David and many other systems (all systems that work with the EML or MSG format and can export this). For fax systems Tobit Faxware/David and MS-Fax are supported. Other systems can also be integrated directly, which can save faxes as PDF/TIF in a predefined folder or print them automatically to a predefined printer.
Can document lists be output as an evaluation in Excel?
Yes, for controlling and evaluation purposes, freely filterable overviews with all available metadata can be generated as an Excel list, for example. You can jump directly from the Excel table to a corresponding document in the DMS via hyperlinks. Example: Excel evaluation of all invoices and their amounts to be paid in the next 2 weeks. Or: Listing of the tonnages transported in the last six months for a specific customer. Etc.
DMS in general
Since when is bitfarm-Archiv developed?
The bitfarm-Archiv DMS has been developed since 2001 and is therefore one of the longest
open source DMS on the market.
For whom is the use of a DMS worthwhile?
A document management system is worthwhile for all companies or institutions that have to manage, process and archive a certain amount of documents. This applies to classic trading companies with invoices and delivery bills as well as companies in which office documents are worked on together. The system is therefore worthwhile wherever documents arrive, are created, processed and filed, and must be retrievable without long search times.
A DMS is also interesting for companies and institutions in which greater transparency of document-related processes is desired. Another good reason for introducing a document management system is the desire or necessity to make company know-how more accessible to all (authorized) employees (knowledge database, knowledge management).
bitfarm-Archiv is also regularly used to implement requirements such as those arising from compliance requirements, e.g. ISO 9001 ff. or to comply with the regulations of the tax authorities (archiving obligation, requirement: digital archiving of original digital documents such as e-mails).
What about the ROI (Return on Invest) with bitfarm-Archiv?
Experience has shown that the investment in bitfarm-Archiv DMS pays off very quickly, as the acquisition costs are relatively low and, due to simple and fast operation, it is possible to work with the system without a great deal of familiarization and training. Ask for a reference if you need concrete figures.
What distinguishes bitfarm-Archiv DMS from other document management systems?
The most important difference to other DMS is certainly the open source development idea. Since no licensing costs are incurred, bitfarm Archiv is significantly less expensive than a proprietary system with a comparable scope of services, both in terms of acquisition and ongoing operation. The open source basis also ensures that the system is future-proof, with flexible customization options and open standards.
As a typical Windows application, the Viewer's user interface is immediately understood by most users. In addition, the system convinces with a high-performance search and the immediate display of a wide variety of document formats, without annoying sub-windows. Since training costs can be minimized and a high level of user acceptance is quickly achieved, DMS projects can quickly become successful. The web viewer for the browser and the app for smartphones and tablets correspond to the Windows counterpart as far as possible and enable efficient access - even for mobile users.
The powerful search engine-style full-text search allows users to enter one or more search terms (including components). Omnipage OCR, the market leader in text recognition systems, which is used here by bitfarm-Archiv, ensures reliable retrieval of terms in scanned paper documents. Digital documents, office files, e-mails, PDFs, etc. are of course just as easy to find.
bitfarm-Archiv - especially with the Enterprise-Edition - thus addresses all those who are looking for a comprehensive, comfortable and adaptable DMS enterprise solution at fair conditions.
Does the implementation of bitfarm-Archiv DMS take longer than the implementation of comparable systems?
With the same requirements, the implementation of bitfarm-Archiv DMS does not take longer than that of other document management systems. If the requirements increase, for example, because during the project the desire arises to fully exploit the many possibilities of the bitfarm DMS, this naturally takes a little more time. Well invested time, because a fine tuning of the system to the individual requirements is worthwhile. Through extensive automation and customization, e.g. of the menus, document processes in the company can be optimized in such a way that every unnecessary mouse click for the user is avoided. This leads to more efficient processes and increases employee productivity. Moreover, the clear and intuitive user interface reduces the training effort to a minimum. In addition, the distribution of tasks between bitfarm and the customer can be flexibly adapted - for example, time and costs can be saved if the customer's IT department is actively involved.
In all our DMS projects, we aim to find the perfect mix of a structured, analytical approach, i.e. strict pre-planning, and a more pragmatic approach. Thus, bitfarm projects for smaller companies do not necessarily spend days on theory, but rather relatively quickly create a "good" configuration based on experience, which is then tested and refined through practical trial runs. Of course, the experience of the bitfarm consultant on site, who is familiar with the DMS on the one hand and typical industry requirements on the other, is crucial here and thus quickly arrives at good solutions. bitfarm GmbH has the appropriate personnel at its headquarters in Siegen and enables the fast and targeted implementation of DMS projects at a manageable cost and time.
In medium-sized businesses, in public administration or in high technology, on the other hand, the emphasis is more on engineering, planning activities and corresponding project planning, since the requirements in these areas are usually much more complex. Close cooperation between the bitfarm consultant on site and the project managers is just as necessary here as extensive know-how transfer among the partners. Corresponding projects in the past document the competence of the bitfarm team.
Can I install the software myself?
You can simply download and install the GPL version. This is not intended for the Enterprise version in corporate use, as there are significantly more parameters to consider here. To avoid misconfiguration, which in the worst case can lead to data loss, the installation is always carried out by bitfarm or a commissioned partner company. This way we can give a guarantee on the complete system and take care of the technical part of the procedural documentation. Also with regard to the concepts and data structures, a basic briefing on the configuration, which can be carried out together with the installation, is highly recommended. This prevents concepts from being misunderstood or misapplied, which can lead to poor performance later on when increasingly more documents are stored in the system.
Are there ready-made business templates?
There are some ready-made database frameworks for various industries that can be used to simplify the start with the DMS. However, the requirements are often so divergent that it is often more efficient to build the structures from scratch than to "bend over" a business template. Nevertheless, such ready-made database templates often provide valuable inspiration in the discovery phase regarding the areas and topics for which DMS use could be interesting.
What should be considered when introducing a DMS?
It is difficult to make general statements here, because every company works somewhat differently and the requirements differ. In general, bitfarm recommends to divide the DMS implementation into several steps. In a medium-sized company, for example, it would first be necessary to consider which area has the highest priority. In addition to the departmental file storage and its workflows or the company-wide e-mail archiving, for example, the inbox could be converted as the first step towards a digital office.
The inclusion of all requirements for the capture and workflow of incoming mail (including invoice receipt workflow with accounting, etc.) is already so extensive that this quickly becomes a medium-sized project that requires full attention for some time. Once the first project has been completed, other areas of the company can then be supplied with the DMS. In doing so, one benefits from the experiences of the first step of the DMS implementation. With this approach, users get to know the system gradually and are not confronted with too many functions right at the beginning. Of course, the approach always depends on the size of the company. In smaller companies with a lower volume of documents, it is certainly possible to choose a different approach.
For projects above a certain size, a project manager should be appointed on both the customer's and the supplier's side. The project manager on the customer side should have expertise in the (previous) document-related processes in the company, i.e. preferably come from the organization area. It makes sense to record the goals to be achieved in writing right at the beginning, for example in the form of a specification sheet. bitfarm offers so-called workshops as a kick-off meeting for recording the essential project goals. In this context, the roles of the persons involved are defined, as well as time frames, important milestones and the concrete approach.
In some cases, the transition from paper to digital documents can be difficult, as working methods that have been used for years are now to change. In some companies, therefore, a third party, a management consultancy experienced in change management, is also called in to adequately communicate the benefits of the project for the company and to keep the motivation of the project participants and users high, even in the case of longer and more extensive projects.
In most cases, however, and especially in smaller companies, a more pragmatic approach is helpful, in which only the minimum project goals are defined in a short workshop. This usually leads to good results quickly and without escalating costs, which can be built upon in further steps.
What are the costs for the introduction of the system?
The costs for a DMS implementation with bitfarm-Archiv depend on the respective requirements. It also depends on which tasks are to be taken over by bitfarm or a partner, or by the customer. The support fee depends on the number of users. In contrast to other systems, there are no license fees and only services are charged at usual conditions. Therefore, projects with bitfarm-Archiv DMS are usually much less expensive than other DMS systems. For example, it was not uncommon that customers looking for an expandable and high-quality DMS solution were quoted prices in the mid 5-digit range by some providers, while bitfarm-Archiv DMS Enterprise without quality restrictions and with the same or better functionality was then purchased for a tenth of the price.
Is there a demo version?
There are only two versions of bitfarm-Archiv DMS - GPL and Enterprise - both of which are full-fledged document management systems. The GPL version is available for free download and can be installed and used without any restrictions. The Enterprise version cannot be downloaded, it is tied to the purchase of services such as consulting and support for productive use.
Since the GPL and Enterprise versions have many basic functions in common, the GPL version can certainly be used as a demo at first. In addition, we recommend watching a free and non-binding live demonstration of the Enterprise system. Also the videos are recommendable, here exclusively the Enterprise version is shown and one can draw many tips also for the configuration of the GPL version from this.
Since the Enterprise version unfortunately cannot be configured ready for operation with a few clicks, the provision of a demo is associated with expenditure and can therefore not be offered generally, but only in exceptional cases and with compensation for the expenses incurred.
What services does bitfarm GmbH offer and what is recommended?
bitfarm GmbH provides all services necessary for a successful introduction of the DMS and ensuring smooth operation. This includes above all the consulting / planning /
workflow analysis at the beginning, of course the installation and configuration of the system, the briefing of the responsible IT staff of the customer and, if desired, the training of the employees. Once the system has gone into productive operation, bitfarm software support is the competent partner for all configuration questions by phone or on site, provides updates and is quickly on the spot in case of problems. Recommended document scanners can also be purchased directly from bitfarm.
Does bitfarm-Archiv also work with Office systems?
Yes, bitfarm-Archiv integrates directly into MS-Office from 2007 upwards, as well as into Open-Office / Libre Office. Via an icon / ribbon in the user interface you can place a document directly into the DMS and classify it right away or start a workflow. From the DMS viewer, the document can then be opened again in Office at any time. Check-out and check-in create security during processing. The automatic versioning of bitfarm-Archiv provides an overview of the development of a document at any time.
How do I get the GPL or Enterprise version?
The GPL version can be
downloaded for free. The enterprise version is supplied free of charge as part of a project.
To define a project or its costs in general is quite difficult (comparable with the question: How much does a car cost? Here you would first have to know what it is primarily to be used for, performance, equipment, etc.). So it depends on the requirements, which are to be implemented by bitfarm in the project. These range from very few requirements for small projects, where only the software is installed and a short briefing is carried out, to very many requirements for complex projects in medium-sized businesses and corporate environments with many departments and processes to be mapped. The best thing to do is to describe your requirements, your preferred approach and, if necessary, the points at which you want to become active yourself (e.g. client installation, configuration, employee training, etc.). We can then provide you with an individual offer.
What features does the Enterprise version include that the GPL version does not?
For an overview of the key differentiators, see
What support does bitfarm GmbH offer for the GPL or Enterprise version?
For the GPL version, support is currently only available via SourceForge forum with no guarantee of a timely response. For the Enterprise version, Enterprise Support is available, which can be reached directly via telephone extension and provides fast and competent assistance via remote access or on-site. SLAs can also be concluded for the Enterprise version to ensure high availability.
When installing the GPL version (up to 3.4.5) Cyrillic characters appear. What is behind this?
bitfarm-Archiv uses in the GPL version up to version 3.4.5 for text recognition in image documents (scans) the software Cuneiform from the Russian company Cognitive Technologies. Cuneiform was the market leader in Russia for a long time, but then could no longer position itself against international competition from Abbyy and Nuance, so commercial development was discontinued. Since 2008, Cuneiform has been freely available to the general public under the simplified BSD license, an open source license type.
If Cuneiform is used in a product, as in the case of bitfarm-Archiv, the use is free of charge. It is only required to include the source code, and to display the license in the original. We comply with this and dutifully display this during installation.
As of bitfarm-Archiv GPL version 3.5.0, the text recognition software Tesseract is used instead of Cuneiform. This software is also available as free software and has meanwhile clearly left Cuneiform behind in terms of performance and recognition rate.
What services does the Enterprise Software Support include?
The Enterprise Software Support of bitfarm GmbH is the central contact point for all questions regarding the DMS. The support team sits door to door with the developers of the DMS and can therefore provide first-hand information and assistance. In addition to help on operation, questions on technical and organizational topics, bitfarm GmbH customers and partners also have active support available for configuration and customization of the enterprise DMS.
Customers also receive a guaranteed response time of a maximum of two hours for critical problems via the support contract. All updates and patches are also included in the software support free of charge. Through the support contract, customers also benefit from reduced hourly and daily rates for training, configuration or individual program customization.
Is there a single user version?
Unfortunately, no. bitfarm-Achiv DMS is a client-server application, which makes sense in use from about 5 users and requires a server. Due to the fact that a database and other things have to be installed, the effort for a stand-alone system is too high; moreover, for simple tasks, e.g. by private users, there are also inexpensive systems such as Paperport or Maxxarchiv.
In the Enterprise version, there is the function "Export to self-supporting archive", with the help of which a complete program can be generated, which can then be run as a stand-alone solution. However, this program, the Offline Viewer, is designed as a pure single-user research client.
Is it possible to switch from another DMS to bitfarm-Archiv?
If you want to switch from another DMS / archiving system to bitfarm-Archiv while taking over all documents and metadata, there must be a possibility to export the data and documents from the old DMS. So here the manufacturer of the previous DMS is asked whether there is such a possibility. But often documents and data are stored in standardized formats - as by the way also in bitfarm-Archiv. bitfarm-Archiv uses here the TIF format and the original file formats, e.g. for Office documents and e-mails. PDF(/A) is also frequently used and can be imported directly into bitfarm-Archiv. If metadata is available in standard formats such as XML, SQL, DBF, ASCII etc., an import is also easy to realize here. For databases, read access is necessary so that the data can be exported.
However, some vendors use proprietary binary document containers for storage and also do not offer exports to standard formats. In these cases, conversion can be difficult. If in doubt, contact us and we will be happy to advise you.
Can documents from other DMS / archive systems be transferred to bitfarm-Archiv?
The transfer of documents and search data (metadata) from other DMS applications is possible with bitfarm-Archiv if these systems store the data unencrypted or provide an export option. This is not true for all, but for most document management systems (DMS without "lock-in effect"). In the past, bitfarm or a qualified partner successfully carried out several projects in which the migration of documents and metadata from elo, Easy, Docuware, Habel, IBM Content Manager, D3 or Hyparchiv to bitfarm-Archiv was necessary. Nevertheless, it makes sense to clarify this in advance.
Is it possible to switch from bitfarm-Archiv to another DMS?
This is possible because with bitfarm-Archiv all documents are stored in the audit-proof TIF format and additionally in the original format (e.g. for Office, e-mail, CAD,...). The administrator retains full access rights and can thus migrate documents to other systems. The metadata is stored in a MySQL database, to which the customer himself defines the access passwords. This means that simple SQL scripts can also be used to transfer the metadata.
There are also export options within the software, which either run automatically on a server basis, or can be used by the (appropriately authorized) user in the viewer.
Working with the DMS
Is it possible to customize the interface?
Each user can make various adjustments to the interface for himself or as specified by the administrator. This starts with the hiding and showing of different menus, goes over individual search and forwarding favorites up to saved queries and individual plugin functions. The software always remembers the state of the interface when it is closed and reappears exactly the same the next time. bitfarm-Archiv is not only very well suited for use with multiple screens, this is even recommended.
Is there a duplicate check?
Yes, a duplicate check is integrated in bitfarm-Archiv DMS.
Can documents also be processed "in bulk"?
Mass processing is possible without any problems - bitfarm-Archiv is designed for larger document volumes! When capturing files, whole folders with subfolders can be fed to the DMS at the same time. The situation is similar for e-mail and faxes, as well as print output from various other software systems. When scanning, barcodes can be used to separate documents from each other. Processing in the DMS can be automated via rules, so that sorting, classification and workflow are fully automatic for both small and large document volumes.
Do I receive a message when new documents are ready for me in the DMS?
If a document is waiting to be processed via a workflow or a resubmission, the user receives a notification not only in the viewer but also, for example, via a tray icon when the program is closed, or alternatively via e-mail.
In the Enterprise version, users can also be actively informed about pending tasks from bookmarks via e-mail.
What options are there for keywording / classification?
Documents can be filed in the DMS according to various criteria. First of all, they are sorted correctly in the archive tree, whereby links can also be used to show connections with other archives / documents. In the respective archive, the various classification, status and database fields are available. Here there are many different characteristics, which are defined by the administrator. Some fields are optional, others can be defined as mandatory fields. When a document is filed, the user can or must fill in the data fields. The software helps to avoid typing errors, for example, by using selection fields and integrated, intelligent master data maintenance or
automatic tagging. In the case of scans, the user can also simply draw a frame around an area to have the computer fill in a data field via the OCR process. Automatic, rule-based classification is also possible, in which the user ideally does not have to enter anything at all, e.g. the capture of a document is limited to simply scanning it.
Important for the classification of documents in corporate use is often the assignment to a project or task. bitfarm-Archiv offers electronic task files and links here. There is also a high degree of automation here. Certain documents are automatically sorted into the appropriate file, even external documents can be automatically assigned to the order, purchase order or project file if the order, purchase order or project number occurs. A document can be stored in several files at the same time.
Can also be classified automatically?
Yes, it is possible to use rules to automatically sort and classify known document types. The rules can be created by the administrator and easily adapted at any time. A powerful tool is the pattern recognition, which automatically recognizes and assigns characteristic numbers. In this way, order, project, customer, client, patient, process and vehicle files are created fully automatically.
How can I capture my paper documents, e.g. incoming mail, as effectively as possible?
From the DMS perspective, as effective as possible means as automatic as possible. Barcodes can be used to separate documents so that the DMS then knows where one document ends and the next begins. Rules ensure automatic sorting, classification and distribution within the company. These processes can also be performed manually or semi-automatically. However, it is often the case that manual classification must already be carried out during scanning or shortly thereafter. bitfarm-Archiv DMS offers a convenient tool for this with the Viewer or the Manuscan program, which also simplify manual
capture through intelligent field selections and OCR function.
How do I find my documents again later?
The bitfarm-Archiv DMS offers a wealth of categorization and classification options. Documents can be sorted manually or also automatically into "storage locations" and "archives". These are arranged in a tree structure centrally maintained by the administrator. Often a formal structure is defined by company / department / document type. Content-related references of the documents to each other are represented via virtual files. These "links" connect documents across archives and are n-n relationships. In each archive there are also various data fields, again centrally definable, e.g. pure text or numeric fields, selection fields, date fields and many more.
In addition, there is status information about the respective documents. All these data elements can be logically combined for searching. Complete search definitions can also be stored as "saved queries" by the user or administrator. In addition, a very powerful full text search is available that can also be included. With a little practice, these various methods can be used to quickly bring the desired information to the screen. The SQL server takes care of the actual searching, so that the search result is already displayed in a moment.
What does the authorization concept look like?
Permissions can be defined very finely in the Enterprise version. Thus, based on the storage locations and the archives, rights such as read, search, create / change notes, send e-mail, print, cancel workflow, move and many more can be defined. These rights can be assigned to individual users or groups and are based on each other. They can also be copied and inherited in the tree. The user and group administration can be linked to the Active Directory, so that there is no duplication of administration effort. Rights can also be assigned to database fields and status buttons, so that only certain users / groups can change certain fields and statuses. There are three different authorization levels for fields and status buttons: read, write and change. This also makes it possible to define fields that can be written to once but can no longer be changed.
Even within an archive, users / groups can be granted or revoked permissions on documents: Document access can be restricted via bookmarks, so that some users can only act within these restrictions. This can be broken down to individual documents or document properties in our DMS software.
What options are available for administration?
There are several tools available for the administrator to configure the electronic document management, create structures, assign rights and control the document processing. Especially the tool bitfarm-Archiv Administrator offers an easy way to perform daily tasks. bitfarm-Archiv otherwise uses the usual procedures, it takes over users and groups from the AD, runs as a Windows service and reports errors in the event log if necessary. This makes the system so easy to administer and configure that customers can expand and refine the DMS on their own, according to their own requirements, after a briefing.
In the Enterprise version, the administrator program is fully integrated into the Windows client. Administration can be delegated: anyone with administration rights in an archive can immediately authorize users and groups for their area, set up and change structures, assign bookmarks and monitor tasks.
How does bitfarm-Archiv DMS support controlling?
bitfarm-Archiv DMS offers a number of possibilities for process controlling. Thus, for manual and automatic workflows not only can be defined who should process them under which conditions (users, groups, different modes), but also one or more controllers can be defined for the individual stages of the workflow. The controllers then see the status of the individual documents and can intervene in the workflow if necessary. In addition, a history is kept for each document, which lists the entire lifetime of the document in the DMS with all actions that have been performed on it. Filtered document lists with classifications / statuses can also be exported to various standard formats, e.g. Excel, for evaluation purposes.
How are processes automated? What is a workflow?
So-called "workflows" are used to automate recurring work processes. Appropriate tools and a macro language are available to the administrator for this purpose. Workflows can be sequential, parallel or mixed workflows. The workflow can be triggered by different events. Individual users can participate in the workflow, or groups with mixed processing modes ("one for all", "each individually", etc.). Workflows can be defined not only by the administrator. Users also have the possibility to send/assign tasks to other users/groups via the Resubmission function and to start manual workflows. Examples of typical workflows in the document management system are incoming invoice workflows or document workflows according to the
quality management manual.