Integration model for electronic documentation applications
Oluoch, Patrick O.
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Organizations invest in lCT software with the aim of improving internal process efficiency. Many organizations use more than one application in the same or different phases of their documentation life cycles to meet predefined ends. Since these applications are developed at different times, and in different settings to solve different problems, they are more often disjointed. In such a scenario, end users are required to integrate the functionality of several independent applications in line with predefined business processes. Manual integration requires extensive user input which can compromise the throughput and quality of documents. Application integration provides an opportunity to improve the efficiency of documentation processes through automation of repetitive manual user input and enforcement of documentation procedures using preprogrammed rules of use. This research aimed at determining applications used in documentation processes of Geothermal Development Company (GDC) Nakuru Office and identifying any gaps which arise due to separately implemented ones. The study then designed a model to abate challenges attributable to application disjointedness. Descriptive research methodology was used since no variables at play could be controlled by the researcher. Through stratified random sampling, a representative sample of respondents was selected to whom a questionnaire was administered. Analysis of responses determined that GDC uses two key categories of applications in predefined documentation processes - word processor and electronic mail client. Use of the aforementioned applications requires manual user input to align their combined functionality with predefined business rules. This in addition to lack of a web publishing application to centrally archive documents has lead to various challenges encountered by end users which include delays in documentation due to limited collaborative support, document version mix-up and difficulty in locating documents published in e-mail. Having identified the need to integrate three applications - word processors, electronic mail client and web publishing applications, this research went ahead to develop a model to guide in achieving the same using Business Modeling Language (BML). BML is useful to all levels of stakeholders from management to technical personnel. An implementation guideline to offer more information about how the applications should be integrated to maximize on the usefulness of the integration model was further highlighted. It is important for organizations using disjointed applications with internal process efficiency improvement needs to consider application integration as the next vital step forward before investing in new applications designed to achieve the same end. This will ensure that maximum return on investment is made on already implemented applications in a shorter time while avoiding the risk of minimal yields from investment in completely new applications.