Match Fields Early when Designing an Imaging Solution

When building an enterprise level imaging system, one of the most important early tasks is matching up the fields in the solution. A typical ERP imaging solution has fields in the following functional areas:

Scan and validation
Image repository
Workflow template
Temporary tables for line items and custom forms
EBS tables

Looking at the big picture, the entire imaging solution is simply a transportation system for meta data stored in table columns (fields) at various stages from paper scan to workflow, to voucher creation. Fields carry information that tie to a specific image document.

Many fields map across each step of the process and must have the same data types. Some fields are used uniquely during scanning, image retrieval, workflow, or in the ERP backend. It is very difficult to begin a project until all these fields are well-known and understood.

One of the challenges of matching up fields is that each area may refer to a field data type (string, integer, etc.) in a slightly different way. An experienced architect and solutions implementor will resolve the type quirks during implementation.

I’ve found the best way to understand how the fields map across the solution is to create a single table with a common set of fields names and data types with columns indicating areas of use, rather than creating separate tables spread throughout the project plan for each area.

Since project plans are lengthy, having a single field mapping table makes it much easier to create the necessary fields, templates, and tables during project implementation since you don’t have to jump around in the project document to find the needed information. Also, having a single table prevents incorrectly mapped fields between functional areas because the big picture view is simple to understand.

I like to use color to highlight specific logical field groupings and keep notes for each field. I tend to continuously revise the master table as the project unfolds and additional information is discovered and then email each revision to the key project players so that everyone is working from the same assumptions.

Here is a link to a sample field mapping table. The table can be improved by adding a column that contains realistic sample data for each field. I use basic field type nomenclature and convert the types as needed in each functional environment.

If you are responsible for putting together a project plan for an imaging system deployment, or work in a company with an imaging system, I encourage you to have a table like this that matches your system. It’s very useful.

Clint Lewis
Senior Systems Engineer
ImageSource, Inc.