The single biggest problem with most document management systems is that the average person doesn’t really want to use it. Everybody intellectually knows that things like version control are good to have. But the overhead from managing workflows inside a document management system usually results in people preferring to use email to send multiple versions of the same document back and forth to each other.
Of course, that almost invariably leads to people stepping on each other’s edits when one person decides to work on a version of the document that someone else has already edited.
Looking to make document management more palpable to the average end user, Perforce Software today launched Perforce Commons, a document management system that relies on a drag-and-drop interface to simplify the management of documents.
Dan Auker, product manager for Perforce Commons, says that besides being expensive to deploy in the enterprise, document management systems ask end users to remember too much about what file went where in the system. Perforce Commons solves this problem by including a File Valet feature that automatically keeps track of who last edited what document and the changes that were made. In addition, users have the option of either making comments inside the document or in Perforce Commons. Those threaded comments and conversations can then be directly incorporated inside the document at a later time.
Perforce Commons pricing starts at $12 per user per month, which Auker notes is substantially lower than rival enterprise-class document management systems. In addition, Perforce Commons is free for the first 20 users in addition to being free for users of Perforce Software Version Management that Perforce markets for engineering environments.
Perforce Commons marks Perforce’s entry into the mainstream document management market for the first time. With a long history of managing documents for technical environments in a base of 5,500 companies that encompasses 400,000 users, Auker says Perforce Commons has been designed from the ground up to bring the version management capabilities that Perforce has long had to end users inside a lightweight document management framework.
Given the lack of adoption of document management systems within the enterprise, it’s pretty clear that organizations could benefit from an approach that end users might not intuitively resist. Whether that winds up being Perforce Commons remains to be seen. But given all the compliance issues now facing organizations and all the time being wasted editing the same documents multiple times, chances are good that many end users are at least now open to having the conversation.