Provenance upgrades records software

Provenance Systems Inc. last week announced a new version of its ForeMost electronic recordkeeping software that is designed to be more user-friendly and easier to deploy to large numbers of users.

ForeMost Enterprise is a 32-bit upgrade to earlier versions of ForeMost, with a new, three-tier architecture. An updated user interface "simplified for non-records management types," is based on Microsoft Corp.'s Internet Explorer, said Tony Summerlin, president of Provenance.

Customers were demanding the updates, telling the company "we hate deploying your software," Summerlin said. "[They said], 'If you really expect us to load it on 10,000 workstations, you have to make it easier.' "

Provenance is the most recent electronic records management vendor to redesign its product to support broad deployments. Late last year, one competitor, PSSoftware Solutions Ltd. introduced similar improvements to its RIMS Studio software to support so-called "thin-client" deployments. Cuadra Associates Inc., whose Star product was created for Unix platforms, also offers a three-tier solution."We've been asked to provide ease of deployment and scalability, and that's why we're doing it," said Dave Gibbard, president of PSSoftware.

In a three-tier architecture, a software application runs on a server rather than a client machine. This makes deploying the software easier, because it does not have to be installed on every desktop, and it eases network traffic because the application server manages all queries to supporting databases.

"It's really a necessary condition, even to step up to the plate," if a company wants to sell its products, said Richard Medina, an analyst with Doculabs, a Chicago consulting firm that tests imaging, workflow and document management products. With improvements like those announced last week by Provenance, "records management for the enterprise is now possible."

Now that more records are electronic, the job of identifying and classifying them has shifted from a few records managers to hundreds of employees who are creating documents. Information technology managers are looking for software that is easy to deliver throughout their agencies and that is easy for employees who are not recordkeeping experts to use.

Summerlin said a new applications programming interface would make it easier for ForeMost Enterprise users to integrate the software with existing business applications. Agencies want to use electronic recordkeeping software as part of the document management, workflow or e-mail applications that they use to create their records.

"I think the products have to be merged so that they're seamless," said J. Timothy Sprehe, an information policy consultant and FCW columnist who advises agencies on electronic recordkeeping.

According to Provenance, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission will be deploying ForeMost Enterprise when the upgrade is released in July. NRC officials involved with the project could not be reached for comment.

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