US 20070283288 A1
A method for storing, organizing and providing remote electronic access to documents. A cover sheet including a standard set of identification data characterizing each document is developed and stored. A digital version of each document is created and stored by scanning each contract. Each digital version includes a scanned image and a searchable text file, wherein the text is overlaid with the image. An index of bookmarks identifying sections of the digital version of each document is generated. Selected fields of information are captured from the digital version of the document. The documents are organized and cross-referenced in a database that includes the captured information and additional information related to each document. Designated parties are alerted of critical dates associated with each document. Remote electronic access to the documents is provided over the internet.
55. A system for automatically generating one or more bookmarks linked with elements of interest in a digitally-stored document that is scanned from a physical document, the system comprising:
a receiving component for receiving a plurality of digitally-encoded images generated by optically scanning a physical document;
an optical character recognition component to analyze the plurality of digitally-encoded images of the document and generate searchable text corresponding to the document;
a bookmarking component to programmatically analyze the searchable text to identify one or more elements of interest in the document, create one or more bookmarks each linked to one of the identified one or more elements of interest in the document, and store the one or more bookmarks in association with the document; and
a presentation component for displaying to a user one or more of the stored bookmarks in conjunction with the plurality of digitally-encoded images of the document, wherein the user is directed to an element of interest in the document when the user selects the bookmark linked with the element of interest.
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69. A method in a computing system of automatically generating one or more bookmarks linked with elements of interest in a digitally-stored document that is scanned from a physical document, the method comprising:
optically scanning a physical document to generate a plurality of digitally-encoded images of the document;
performing optical character recognition on the plurality of digitally-encoded images of the document to generate searchable text corresponding to the document;
programmatically analyzing the searchable text to identify one or more elements of interest in the document;
creating and storing one or more bookmarks each linked to one of the identified one or more elements of interest in the document; and
displaying one or more of the stored bookmarks in conjunction with the plurality of digitally-encoded images of the document to a user, wherein the user is directed to an element of interest in the document when the user selects the bookmark linked with the element of interest.
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83. A computer-readable medium containing instructions for execution on a computer that automatically generate one or more bookmarks linked with elements of interest in a digitally-stored document that is scanned from a physical document by:
receiving a plurality of digitally-encoded images generated by optically scanning a physical document;
performing optical character recognition on the plurality of digitally-encoded images of the document to generate searchable text corresponding to the document;
programmatically analyzing the searchable text to identify one or more elements of interest in the document;
creating and storing one or more bookmarks each linked to one of the identified one or more elements of interest in the document; and
causing one or more of the stored bookmarks to be displayed in conjunction with the plurality of digitally-encoded images of the document to a user, wherein the user is directed to an element of interest in the document when the user selects the bookmark linked with the element of interest.
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This application is a continuation of application having Ser. No. 09/1748,105 filed on Dec. 27, 2000.
The present invention relates to a method and system for storing, organizing and providing remote access to documents over the Internet.
Computers provide access to stored documents that otherwise would be impossible or impractical to obtain. For example, computers can manipulate data and carry out processes that may be possible for people to carry out but could require extended periods of time, such as on the order of years or a life time, to carry out. Alternatively, dozens of people would be required to carry out the functions.
One example of a process that can be carried out quickly with a computer includes word-processing. Changing the text of a document with a word processor eliminates the need for retyping an entire document. Additionally, computers make it possible to search for the location of a single word in the text of document or collection of documents. To search each word of a document or documents that could include thousands of pages and perhaps millions of words would be impossible for all practical purposes. One person may not be able to carry out such a task in a lifetime or many people would need to spend long periods of time carrying out such a task.
Other processes that computers can carry out include maintaining inventory, on-line business transactions, such as auctions, and mathematical modeling. Just as with the text searching function, while it may be possible for people to perform these functions, the computer makes such activities practical by carrying them out in short periods of time. Actually, many if not most of the functions performed by desktop computers would be just as impractical or impossible as larger complex described above.
With respect to on-line activities, the Internet comprises a vast number of computers and computer networks that are interconnected through communication links. The interconnected computers exchange information using various services, such as electronic mail, Gopher, and the World Wide Web (“WWW”). The WWW service allows a server computer system (i.e., Web server or Web site) to send graphical Web pages of information to a remote client computer system. The remote client computer system can then display the Web pages. Each resource (e.g., computer or Web page) of the WWW is uniquely identifiable by a Uniform Resource Locator (“URL”). To view a specific Web page, a client computer system specifies the URL for that Web page in a request (e.g., a hypertext Transfer Protocol (“HTTP”) request). The request is forwarded to the Web server that supports that Web page. When that Web server receives the request, it sends that Web page to the client computer system. When the client computer system receives that Web page, it typically displays the Web page using a browser. A browser is a special-purpose application program that effects the requesting of Web pages and the displaying of Web pages.
Currently, Web pages are typically defined using hypertext Markup Language (“HTML”). HTML provides a standard set of tags that define how a Web page is to be displayed. When a user indicates to the browser to display a Web page, the browser sends a request to the server computer system to transfer to the client computer system an HTML document that defines the Web page. When the requested HTML document is received by the client computer system, the browser displays the Web page as defined by the HTML document. The HTML document contains various tags that control the displaying of text, graphics, controls, and other features. The HTML document may contain URLs of other Web pages available on that server computer system or other server computer systems.
Although computers can greatly facilitate many tasks, the computers require programming and input. With text searching functions, unless the text is accurately input and a search engine available, the computer may be useless. Tools that make the computer useful are as essential as the computer itself.
The present invention relates to organizing and providing access to documents in a way that greatly facilitates storage and organization of the documents and information concerning and contained in the documents. Additionally, the present invention provides users access to the documents that far surpasses known systems and methods.
In accomplishing the above and other objects and advantages, the present invention provides a method for storing, organizing and providing remote electronic access to documents. A cover sheet including a standard set of identification data characterizing each document is stored. A digital version of each contract is created and stored by scanning each document. Each digital version includes a scanned image and a searchable a text file. The text is overlaid with the image. An index of bookmarks identifying sections of the digital version of each document is generated. Selected fields of information are captured from the digital version of the document. The documents are organized and cross-referenced in a database comprising the captured information and additional information related to each document. Alerts are generated and sent to designated parties reminding them of critical dates associated with each document. Remote electronic access to the documents is provided over the Internet. One particular embodiment provides a method for storing, organizing and providing remote electronic access to contracts.
Additionally, the present invention provides a computer program product for performing a process of storing, organizing and providing remote electronic access to documents. The computer program product includes a computer readable medium and computer program instructions, recorded on the computer readable medium and executable by a processor. The instructions develop and store a cover sheet including a standard set of identification data characterizing each document, and create and store a digital version of each contract by scanning each document. Each digital version includes a scanned image and a searchable a text file. The text is overlaid with the image. The instructions also generate an index of bookmarks identifying sections of the digital version of each document and capture selected fields of information from the digital version of the document. Additionally, the instructions organize and cross-reference the documents in a database that includes the captured information and additional information related to each document. Furthermore, the instructions generate alerts to designated parties of critical dates associated with each document and provide remote electronic access to the document over the Internet.
Furthermore, the present invention relates to a system for performing a process for storing, organizing and providing remote electronic access to documents. The system includes a processor operable to execute computer program instructions and a memory operable to store computer program instructions executable by the processor. The instructions develop and store a cover sheet including a standard set of identification data characterizing each document and create and store a digital version of each contract by scanning each document. Each digital version includes a scanned image and searchable a text file. The text is overlaid with the image. The instructions also generate an index of bookmarks identifying sections of the digital version of each document and capture selected fields of information from the digital version of the document. Additionally, the instructions organize and cross-reference the documents in a database that includes the captured information and additional information related to each document. Furthermore, the instructions generate alerts to designated parties of critical dates associated with each document and provide remote electronic access to the document over the Internet.
Still other objects and advantages of the present invention will become readily apparent by those skilled in the art from a review of the following detailed description. The detailed description shows and describes preferred embodiments of the invention, simply by way of illustration of the best mode contemplated of carrying out the present invention. As will be realized, the invention is capable of other and different embodiments and its several details are capable of modifications in various obvious respects, without departing from the invention. Accordingly, the drawings and description are illustrative in nature and not restrictive.
Objects and advantages of the present invention will be more clearly understood when considered in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, in which:
The present invention facilitates document management and access to an unrivaled and heretofore unknown degree. The management and access is made possible by the process for handling the documents and associated data according to the present invention. Advantageously, the present invention is applicable to management of a wide variety of document types. The broad application of the present invention stems in part from process steps that can be sufficiently generic that they can be applied to many types of documents. Another advantage of the system and process are their flexibility and capacity for customization, which can permit the present invention to be tailored to particular types of documents. While particular aspects of the present invention may be discussed below in relation to contract management and access, it should be kept in mind that the present invention may be applied to other documents. Of course, since just about any agreement can be considered to be a contract, even when only considering contracts, the present invention can be used to organize leases, employment contracts, purchasing agreements, permits, articles of incorporation, and any other type of agreement.
An embodiment of a method according to the present invention starts with developing and storing a cover sheet that includes a standard set of identifying data characterizing each document. The cover sheet may be customized for the particular type of documents being handled. For example, if the method is being used for contracts, the cover sheet could be include information such as contract type, contracting site, contracting department, contracting entity, responsible parties, authorized users and/or any other information.
To facilitate storage of the coversheet, a list of alternatives may be developed for each piece of information in the coversheet. Each alternative may be assigned a number. A coversheet entry form may be developed that includes each piece of information and the alternatives. The coversheet can then be generated by a user indicating which alternative relates to each document. The user may perform this action by circling a number, checking a box, filling in a space or through another action. By generating the coversheet in this manner and having a user complete the coversheet as described, the coversheet may be scanned, greatly facilitating the process. In may be desirable that a few of the scanned coversheet data be compared with the scanned coversheets and/or with the actual documents to verify accuracy of the scanned information as well as the information entered by the user on the coversheet.
This is one of the great advantages of the present invention. For as soon as the coversheet is created and stored, important data concerning each document will be present in a computer memory. To begin the process of organizing the documents and the associated data, each document may be assigned a document number by a computer being utilized for the process. The coversheet data as well as later entered data can be associated with the number to facilitate access to the documents. Additionally, each document can be cross-referenced with the coversheet data as described below.
Furthermore, after entry of the coversheet information, the computer being utilized can search databases of additional information for each element that constitutes the coversheet. For example, if the document is a contract and the responsible party is one element that the coversheet includes, then the computer could retrieve additional previously stored information concerning that party and associate the additional information with the document record. In the case of a responsible party, the additional information could include an electronic mail address, a street address, a telephone number, and/or any other piece of information.
After the process of automatically entering the coversheet data, the documents may be scanned. Scanning the documents permits a digital version of each document to be created. Each digital version includes a scanned image of the document such that the actual appearance of each document is captured. Also, after each document is scanned, a searchable text file is created and overlaid with the image. This may be carried out utilizing Adobe Capture 3.0, available from Adobe Corporation. In this way, a user may search the text of the document and have the location of the text indicated on the scanned image. This can greatly facilitate use of the present invention and retrieval of information.
After scanning of a document, at least one bookmark may be generated to facilitate searching of the information in the digital version of the documents. The scanned document may be automatically analyzed to generate an index. Bookmark locations may be identified by a number of different criteria. Typically, the criteria are selected to increase the probability that the occurrence of the criteria will correspond to the location of a section where it would be desirable to have a bookmark. For example, bookmark criteria could include changes in font, changes in font size or style, the beginning of a new paragraph or any other desired element. This may also be carried out utilizing Adobe Capture 3.0 available from Adobe Corporation. The processing carried out with this program may be enhanced through manual input and editing to create, delete, and edit bookmarks.
The bookmarks may be identified by the text that occurs in the location where the criteria is identified. In other words, if the criterion is a font change, then the first word or few words beginning at the font change may be used to identify the bookmark. After identification, the bookmarks may be reviewed to determine their accuracy in terms of placement and/or any other basis. Bookmarks may also be deleted. For example, perhaps every term defined in a “definitions” section of a contract is identified as a bookmark. However, it may be desired to only identify the certain definitions in the document index. Therefore, some terms may be deleted. Additionally, the criteria may identify locations in a document that do not correspond to locations where it is desired to have a bookmark. These locations may also be deleted from the index.
In the case of a contract, different sections of the contract may form a bookmark location. Other documents would have bookmarks corresponding to different sections. After creation of the index, the bookmarks may be displayed with a document or alone. However they are displayed, the bookmarks may provide hyperlinks to the locations in the document that they correspond to. This will be discussed in greater detail below.
After generating bookmarks, information may be captured from the digital version of a document. If information is captured, the information captured can depend upon the nature of the document. For example, in the context of a contract, the names of the parties to the contract, the date of the contract and the term are examples of information that may be captured. Information captured from the digital version of a document may provide a means of cross-referencing and searching the document. By searching existing databases of vendors, for example, the information captured from the digital version may be linked to further information. Along these lines, additional information about a vendor could be accessed as described below.
Once the document coversheet is developed and stored, the digital version of the document is created, the documents may be organized and cross-referenced in a database. In the context of contracts, information associated with the contracts can include the reference number, contracting party, vendor, contract date, contract expiration date, department, contract type, contracting site, responsible party, parties authorized to have remote electronic access to the document, contract signatory, contracting group, contract value, contract status, contract critical dates, and/or assets related to contract. Of course, additional or other information related to the contracts may be included in the database. In the context of other documents, the information may change. However, the information and descriptions thereof may be substituted for the information that may be related to contracts.
Regardless of the nature of the documents and the information and descriptions, cross-referencing of the documents can permit location of related documents. For example, the vendor name listed for a contract could provide a link to all contracts for that vendor. Other information may also be linked to a document. For contracts, other information that the contracts could be cross-referenced by could include notes concerning the contracts, documents related to a contract, contact or other information for a party to the contract, critical dates, assets related to a contract, selected terms of the contract, and/or any other information. The other information linked to a contract could itself be linked to further information that the contracts may or may not be cross-referenced by. Examples of further information can include other contracts related to an asset, other contracts with a corresponding critical date, information characterizing a linked asset, and/or any other information.
The documents may be further linked to additional information regarding the documents and/or information associated with the documents may be further linked to additional information. For example, in the context of contracts, the contracts may be linked to vendor information. As described below in greater detail, if accessing a contract provides the name of the vendor or a link to the vendor, the vendor name could then provide a link to contact information for the vendor. Cross-linking the documents in a number of ways, such as through related information permits the present invention to provide unparalleled access to the documents.
With respect to contracts or any other documents that have related time and/or date, the present invention can generate alerts to designated users. The dates may be captured from the document when scanned or entered manually. Then, the system captures the date and automatically generates alerts to one or more designated users at designated intervals. In the context of contracts, the expiration date is a relevant date. Alerts of the expiration date may be sent every three months for six months prior to expiration and then every day for the final week. Of course, any interval may be utilized with any associated critical date.
Acquisition of the coversheet and document information may take place anywhere. Typically, the coversheets and documents are acquired at a user's location. The coversheets and documents may be stored on a computer storage device located at the user site. After acquisition, the documents and coversheets may be transmitted to a central location for further processing. Alternatively, the documents and coversheet information may be transmitted via electronic mail as they are acquired.
After acquisition of the documents and coversheets, the associated files may be stored on a server. Optical character recognition (OCR) may be carried out on the files as a batch process. Similarly, the files may be batch processed for bookmark creation. To help verify the OCR and/or bookmark creation, manual verification may be carried out after the batch processing. The scanned image of the documents may be overlaid with an OCR file representing the text of the document at this time. The OCR file typically is a read-only file to avoid alterations to the text, thereby helping to ensure that the OCR file and the image of the document correspond.
A significant aspect of the present invention is the provision of remote access to documents. The remote access typically is over the Internet. However, the present invention could provide the remote access through other means, such as a connection with a user. However, the Internet typically can provide the most easily accessible and widest available access to the documents.
With remote access comes the issue of authorization to the documents. The present invention can limit access to users to provide a variety of degrees of access to the documents. The access can be controlled by providing a list of users and the degree to which each user will have access. The access may be defined by the amount of information a user may access. The access may also be defined by the ability to edit, print and/or download information. Other examples of factors that can define a user's access to the system can include the ability to attach information to a document and/or edit information already attached to a document record. Additionally, access may be defined by the ability to create and edit a document summary page and to make global changes to summary pages related to all documents. Also, the ability to archive a document may form one factor that defines access to the system. Still further, the ability to enter and edit critical dates can define access as can the ability to enter and edit assets attached to a document. The ability to create, alter, and/or delete a vendor and/or vendor information can define access. Moreover, the ability to be named as a responsible party related to a document can be a factor in defining the degree of user access. Furthermore, access can be defined by the ability to create, edit and/or delete users. While any one or more of the above elements may be utilized to define the degree of access a user will have to a system, any other factor may also be employed.
To control access to the documents that are managed by the system of the present invention, a user typically will be required to present a password to access the system. Users may also have a user name that they may be required to present. A user will first direct a web browser to the URL for a site that provides access to the system according to the present invention. Typically, the access site will present the user with a plurality of options. For example, the access site may also be accessible by non-authorized users for the purpose of obtaining information about the system.
When authorized users arrive at the access site, the access site may include spaces for entry of the user name and password. Alternatively, the access site may provide a link to a login site, a pop-up window, or any other means that provides a login opportunity. In any of these cases, a user will type in the password and possibly user name as well.
After verifying the user's password and possibly user name correspond to an authorized user, the system will determine the degree of access associated with the user. Some embodiments of the invention will then present authorized users with a selection screen that permits the user to select various options by providing links to sites such as a library of the documents being handled for the user, a communication program, and a workflow manager that permits exchange of documents for review and comment.
Upon selecting the library of documents, such as by clicking a mouse button when the cursor is over the appropriate active link, the system will display a document filter page.
The document filter page can include one or more pull down menus and/or one or more boxes for entering search terms. The pull down menus may include options that form categories on the cover sheet. For example, the document filter page shown in
Selecting one of the members on a pull down menu can display all documents that correspond to the particular member selected. For example, every contract relating to a particular department may be displayed if a particular department is selected. In some cases, a user may desire to make a selection from more than one pull down menu to find particular documents. The present invention permits this to be carried out.
In addition to searching by document attributes, the present invention permits searching documents by certain keywords. The keywords could be used to search for words occurring in the text of the alternatives listed in the pull down menu options. The keyword search could be utilized in place of or in addition to the document attribute pull down menus.
In addition to searching for documents by attribute and/or attribute keyword, the present invention can also permit searching for documents by keywords that occur in the text of the documents. The lower half of the document filter web page shown in
Searching may also be carried-out using word variants. If it is desired to offer such an option, the document filter web page shown in
Regardless of the type of search being carried out, the web page may include an active “search” button for a user to click on to initiate a search. The document filter web page represented in
In addition to displaying search options, the search page may also display a pane that includes a menu of options for displaying documents. The menu may be expandable. The cross-linking of the documents that occurred during the storage of the documents and document information may be employed with the display menu.
Under each of the search options shown in
On the other hand, clicking on contract type results in the display of all of the types of contract that the particular user has entered into.
As shown in
Listing of contracts as shown in
As shown in
Another category under the party search option is “other signatory”. This option can list contracts by a second signatory to a contract. The contracts may be displayed and accessed similar to the contracts shown in
Additionally, the party search option may include the possibility to display contracts by responsible party. As discussed above with respect to the coversheet, one or more people may be named as responsible party for a contract. The responsible party may differ from the signatory. Similar to the display of contracts for a particular signatory or other signatory, a responsible party may be listed and all contracts for which that party is responsible also displayed. Alternatively, as shown in
Another category included under “party” that contracts may be displayed by is vendor or other party to a contract. Clicking on “vendor” (the other party in the context of contracts) can result in the system displaying a list of vendors, as shown in the web page illustrated in
Other relevant information with respect to contracts includes associated dates. The dates may be classified in a number of ways. For example, the original date of a contract, the expiration date of a contract, expiration dates that a particular party is responsible for, dates that certain contracts may be automatically renewed, and any other possible dates may be used to classify contracts. Other dates may be utilized to classify other documents. For example, if the present invention were utilized to organize and provide access to a set of regulations, the effective date of the regulations could be used.
Rather than providing contracts by certain events, the present invention may sort and display contracts or other documents by critical issues and associated dates.
The critical issues page may also include active hyperlinks to a particular month, as shown in
The “status” option in the search pane can result in the present invention finding contracts having certain status. Examples of status can include active, expired, and archived. Once a user clicks on the “status” option, the system will display a list of various options for contract status, such as is shown in the web page represented in
In addition to searching options, the search pane may provide links to other functions. Along these lines, the search pane may provide a link to an option for creating a new document record. The web page shown in
In addition to including a new document record entry option, the search pane may include links to directories of information, such as the “vendor directory” link shown in
The web page illustrating specific vendor information shown in
Other functions that the search pane can provide links to include administrative functions. Examples of administrative functions can include adding new users, modifying user access levels, changing passwords, as well as other functions.
As described above, the once the search has revealed a list of documents, clicking on a document will transport a user to a document summary page.
A document summary page, such as the page shown in
The heading may include any selected pieces of information. In the embodiment shown in
Entries in the heading may provide hyperlinks to additional information. Along these lines, the vendor name may provide a hyperlink to other contracts associated with the vendor. Alternatively, the vendor name could provide a link to information about the vendor, such as contact information. Similarly, the user contracting entity and contract type could provide links to other contracts having the same user contracting entity and contract type.
Typically, the document summary page includes a number of tabs 102 that control the information displayed in a document information pane. The contents of the document information pane may change, depending upon which tab is selected. However, the heading information may remain constant to provide a reference to the user.
Also, the descriptive words on each tab may change, depending upon the type of documents being managed. Along these lines, the tabs for a system particular to managing contracts may have the headings shown in
The “cover sheet” tab can result in display of the information shown in
As with any of the tabs, clicking on the “EDIT” button in the heading region may provide a user with editing capabilities to alter any of the information in the “cover sheet” information pane. Only users with authorization to edit will see the “EDIT” button. For other users the button will be hidden. Information displayed as a result of clicking on any of the tabs may be editable if desired.
Clicking on the “contract & attachments”, or more generically, “document & attachments”, tab can result in display of a document information pane that includes the information shown in
The “contract & attachments” tab may also result in the display of addenda, exhibits, attachments, and/or any other material to a document. Any desired material could be attached to a document. Typically, the attachment names are hyperlinks to the attachment. In the EDIT mode, attachments may be added to the tab. The attachments could be in the form of another document that is scanned in or a file on a disk, for example.
The “contract & attachments” tab may provide a button, such as the “make a template” button shown in
Clicking on the link to the original document will launch both the image copy of the document and the digital version of the document.
Critical issues, such as dates, associated with a document may be listed in a “critical dates” information pane by clicking on the “critical dates” tab.
Another tab on the document page could provide information concerning assets related to a document.
Another tab that may be included on a document information page can include a “key terms” tab. The key terms tab can provide a pane that can display selected portions of a document. This can avoid the necessity to retrieve that entire document since the terms may be cut and paste into the key terms pane. The key terms pane may include a link to the document and to the location of the particular text. The edit function can permit a user to add terms to the document record.
The printer friendly version can provide access to a single page containing the information stored on the “summary sheet”, “contract and attachments”, “critical dates”, “asset log”, and “key terms” information panes for easy viewing and printing. The information that is included on the printer friendly page can vary, depending upon the system.
As referred to above, a system according to the present invention may include a workflow manager. The workflow manager can permit users to exchange documents in the process of being drafted. The users can include comments on the documents and then forward the comments to other users.
Another significant advantage of the present invention relates to the ability to track documents by any relevant characteristic, making it possible to determine the percentage of documents for a particular entity.
An exemplary block diagram of a document storing, organizing and access system 100, according to the present invention, is shown in
Memory 108 stores program instructions that are executed by, and data that are used and processed by, CPU 102 to perform the functions of the present invention. Memory 108 may include electronic memory devices, such as random-access memory (RAM), read-only memory (ROM), programmable read-only memory (PROM), electrically erasable programmable read-only memory (EEPROM), flash memory, etc., and electro-mechanical memory, such as magnetic disk drives, tape drives, optical disk drives, etc., which may use an integrated drive electronics (IDE) interface, or a variation or enhancement thereof, such as enhanced IDE (EIDE) or ultra direct memory access (UDMA), or a small computer system interface (SCSI) based interface, or a variation or enhancement thereof, such as fast-SCSI, wide-SCSI, fast and wide-SCSI, etc, or a fiber channel-arbitrated loop (FC-AL) interface.
Memory 108 includes a plurality of blocks of data, such as cover sheet block 112, document digital version block 114, and bookmarks block 116, and a plurality of blocks of program instructions, such as processing routines 118 and operating system 120. Document digital version block 114 stores a plurality of scanned documents and searchable text files that have been received by the document storing, organizing and access system 100. Cover sheet block 112 stores a plurality of cover sheets that may be relevant to one or more documents received by the document storing, organizing and access system. Bookmarks block 118 stores a plurality of bookmarks that may be used to identify portions of the digital versions of the documents. Processing routines 118 are software routines that implement the processing performed by the present invention. Operating system 120 provides overall system functionality.
It is important to note that while the present invention has been described in the context of a fully functioning data processing system, those of ordinary skill in the art will appreciate that the processes of the present invention are capable of being distributed in the form of a computer readable medium of instructions and a variety of forms and that the present invention applies equally regardless of the particular type of signal bearing media actually used to carry out the distribution. Examples of computer readable media include recordable-type media such as floppy disc, a hard disk drive, RAM, and CD-ROM'ROM's, as well as transmission-type media, such as digital and analog communications links.
Among the advantages of the present invention in the context of contract are that it permits managing and monitoring of contract performance. Also, the present invention can help to reduce the cost of doing business and improve control of business. Additionally, through the present invention, contracts or other documents may be tracked and accessed anywhere that Internet access exists. In the context of contracts, the present invention can permit standardization of vendor contracts. Through the creation of a contract or other document database, the present invention can assist in auditing the status of contracts, record activity to a particular contract or contracts, and permit unparalleled access to information. Furthermore, through the control of information that the present invention provides, economies of scale may be realized through consolidation of vendors and efficiencies of internal audits may be improved by ready access to information that did not exist in the past. Still further, the present invention can prevent payment on expired contracts, realize the value of warranties and service agreements and reduce the cost of internal audits.
The foregoing description of the invention illustrates and describes the present invention. Additionally, the disclosure shows and describes only the preferred embodiments of the invention, but as aforementioned, it is to be understood that the invention is capable of use in various other combinations, modifications, and environments and is capable of changes or modifications within the scope of the inventive concept as expressed herein, commensurate with the above teachings, and/or the skill or knowledge of the relevant art. The embodiments described hereinabove are further intended to explain best modes known of practicing the invention and to enable others skilled in the art to utilize the invention in such, or other, embodiments and with the various modifications required by the particular applications or uses of the invention. Accordingly, the description is not intended to limit the invention to the form disclosed herein. Also, it is intended that the appended claims be construed to include alternative embodiments.