What’s the Deal with CHL Software’s DocMoto?
Managing Documents in a Mac World
Whether you’re a lawyer, accountant, office manager, healthcare professional, or project manager, today’s hectic flow of daily business makes it near impossible to maintain a clean and organized file system for paper and digital documents. Nonetheless, organizing documents well is a vital necessity for efficient and effective working practice. In particular, for markets such as finance, insurance, and healthcare that require compliance to strict governmental and industrial regulations, having the means to audit and document user activity and collaboration helps to ensure a clear and transparent process. How can businesses achieve all this without too much disruption?
There are plenty of solutions on the market that aim to take the pain out of managing documents, but introducing a new system is only successful if everyone—stakeholder and knowledge worker alike—buys into it and can use it comfortably. In this respect, users of DocMoto should feel perfectly at home.
On Familiar Ground
CHL Software’s DocMoto is a document and email management system that is capable of managing every type of document handled in an organization, from email messages to Office documents. DocMoto, in short, tracks changes, indexes, controls access, maintains revision histories, locks documents for editing, and guarantees that every document-related task is centralized, organized, and easy to access. It’s a native Mac OS X product and has been designed to fit seamlessly within organizations running Mac networks. Proficient Mac users will happily welcome this solution because learning curves are minimized. The solution is available in two versions: as a client-server software application and as a cloud-hosted application. BLI used the latter.
A Closer Look
Once up and running, end users should have no trouble picking their way around the system; the main interface employs a similar look and feel to that of the Mac OS Finder interface. The left-hand panel displays a ‘Tree View’ directory of files and folders stored in DocMoto; when selected, contents of folders are displayed in the main view in the central panel of the screen. The main view is split into five default columns: Name, Version Size, Checked In On, Created By, and Comment. These can all be configured to suit end-user preferences. Also, the column parameters change depending on the type of file being selected. If an email stored in DocMoto is selected, for example, then the columns displayed include Subject, Date Sent, From, and so on. Ease of use is further boosted by certain actions replicating native shortcuts for Mac users, such as the ability to create a new folder in DocMoto with the standard Shift + Command + N shortcut.
|DocMoto’s user interface behaves just like the Finder, only with an audit trail and an excellent range of tools for managing and editing files.|
When a new user is added to the system, a Home folder is automatically created in the Tree View, which acts as their local or private repository. They also have a Trash folder, which enables them to retrieve and restore previously deleted files and folders very easily, and minimises the impact on productivity.
There is a series of tool buttons that run at the top of every screen, and these provide users with a host of ways to work with stored files. The heart-shaped icon allows users to mark active projects as Favourites, for example, so that they can be accessed quickly and frequently to ease the burden of navigating to key places each time. The Quick Look icon provides a quick preview of a selected document file without the need to open it in its native application, but it provides a link to do so if the user wishes to edit it.
|Users can view file information just by clicking on the Details button.|
At the bottom of the Main View is the status bar and ‘breadcrumb trail’ showing the folder/file directory path. Just above this is a button labelled ‘Detail’ and an arrow button, which, when expanded, reveals extended details of the highlighted file or folder, like an audit trail log.
You access files in the same way as files in the Finder, with one notable exception: users can opt to view or edit a file when they double click on a file to open it. Choosing View opens a read-only version, while choosing Edit will check out the document for editing by the user and locks it to prevent access by anybody else. Other users can view but not edit the document until it gets checked back into the system. DocMoto is unobtrusive, so when you’ve finished editing a file you merely save and close it; the file is automatically reflected in the system. Other document management solutions will prompt the user to confirm changes and/or point to where edited files must be saved.
|Users edit stored files via a Check-Out/Check-In workflow.|
DocMoto makes it very easy for teams to access and collaborate on shared documents but, importantly, its tracking and monitoring capabilities are first-rate. The system maintains a rigorous audit trail, and keeps every version of a document as it goes through a cycle of changes. You can return to the original or a previous version of a document via the Versions tool. You can also highlight two versions and use the Compare tool to open up the documents you’ve selected with all the annotations made on them to show the differences between the two files. In addition, you can enter details in the free text Comment field to state your reasons for making changes to the file, and these can be easily seen by others in the main view.
As well as the ability to drag and drop or import files created outside of the system, DocMoto can kick off the document lifecycle. This has some obvious benefits. For one, there’s always a slight risk of misfiling when importing documents into the system (although tags can help locate and rectify this), but starting from scratch means that a document is cleanly tagged and accurately indexed and stored from the outset, and maximises efficiency in document-intensive environments.
Administrators can use DocMoto’s very handy Templates feature to ensure any new folders created will automatically populate with the right sub-folder structure, adhere to strict folder and file naming conventions, and be assigned the appropriate user permissions and access rights to help standardise, control, and manage content. Should you wish to change the way folders are created later on, you can apply new templates retroactively to all existing folders. Tags are integral to the process as well—tags can be applied to folders and files and are the means by which material is categorised, so that it is easily searchable.
Seek and Find
With unlimited storage of every file format imaginable, how can users pinpoint a folder or file in the document portal with minimal fuss? Well, DocMoto provides sophisticated search capabilities to make it painless for you. The search field at the top of the screen handles predictive searches; you can use a ‘wild card’ search (if you type an asterisk after “Agree*”, for example, this will extend the search to ‘agree’, ‘agreement’, ‘agreed’); it also accommodates US and UK style conventions. You can refine your search by changing the content search conditions: All words (returns a match when a file contains all the specified words); Any word (returns a match when a file contains any of the specified words); Phrase (matches the entire phrase); and Advanced (uses spotlight query syntax to define the criteria). Strangely, for a native Mac product, content searching via the cloud-based system version does not support Apple’s iWork files, only the on-premises edition has this capability.
There are many more features, too many to cover in this article, but we wanted to touch on just a few of them: a companion app for the iPad is also available, which provides all the sharing, tracking and editing features of the system in an interface that’s designed to work just like the desktop application, so workers can be productive and responsive while on the move; administrators can set up users on the system very easily via integration with LDAP and Open/Active Directory servers, and while user information may come from these databases, administrators can manage users’ access to the portal’s contents using the Users and Groups tool, which acts in a similar way to many server-based file security tools; the DocMoto sharing portal lets files be shared externally for a limited period; and, finally, the report engine offers a wide range of reports for management and tracking purposes.
|DocMoto offers a wide range of built-in reports.|
DocMoto is a pretty powerful and sophisticated platform, and we feel administrators would benefit from some additional training from providers to get the best use out of the system, particularly when setting up templates and tags, which are critical for ensuring documents are handled in a consistent and accurate way. They can also access a broad range manuals, guides and training videos available on the product’s website. Overall, BLI found it pretty straightforward to comprehend and use.
|A wide range of tutorial videos, among other support resources, are available on the product’s website.|
There some niggles, as you would expect with such systems, one being that the date convention is automatically set to display in U.S. style. Users can control the display format for all dates via Client Preferences to suit local needs, but in any case date type tags will still require dates to be inputted in YYYY-MM-DD format. As mentioned previously, iWorks files are not supported for content search in the cloud-based version, which is a limitation for this Mac exclusive solution. BLI would also like to see printing activity from the system tracked and reported.
All in all, DocMoto is a very robust system that, importantly, is easy and intuitive to use. This is very good news for Mac-based businesses that are in need of an effective management system, as users shouldn’t have any major issues adapting to working within its structure. Don’t just take our word for it, find out about the experience of one DocMoto customer.
Solving an Expanding Case File and email Storage Issues with DocMoto
Founded six years ago, Jersey-based law firm, Hatstone Lawyers, opted to implement an Apple-based IT system, primarily for its attractive cost and technical support benefits over the more Windows platform. Once the practice began to rapidly expand, this placed a lot of pressure on the document and email management needs of its operations. Finding the right balance between ensuring staff had the best tools to do their jobs effectively and cost was becoming tricky. Former head of IT, Phil Stone, explained, “For document management, we were working with a central file server with VPN connectivity for remote staff, and for a period of time this was pretty effective. However, as we grew it proved unworkable and resulted in problems such as people creating different folder structures. We also needed the ability to solve our file sharing issues, as it was difficult to search and retrieve documents. So, we needed an effective solution, and fast.”
Stone began to search for a suitable DMS product, and happened to hit upon DocMoto via a recommendation from a LinkedIn Apple Professionals group of which he was a member of. Fortuitously, DocMoto’s Marketing Manager Vicky Jefferies was also a member, and she sought Stone out with an offer of a demo.
Stone wasn’t disappointed with what he saw. With support from CHL Software, the initial setup and rollout of DocMoto at the practice was surprisingly easy and painless. “The system design and implementation was one of the easiest during my career to date. All in all, it took staff about two to three weeks to become comfortable with the new document management file structure,” Stone explained. “Training is always crucial, and CHL Software helped us with ensuring the training sessions were well planned and structured so there was no information overload.”
“What impressed me most was my dealings with the staff at CHL Software, who were incredibly helpful, knowledgeable and professional,” he continued. “They made it clear that they were very keen to develop and refine the product and would welcome feedback. One of our key requirements was a neat and elegant way of storing email attachments—the team listed and worked on a solution that was ready for us in time for deployment. It’s been a great collaborative process and DocMoto has been a great success for Hatstone.”