Information overload seems to plague our workplaces. Add to that the overreliance on paper-based information, and you have a cluttered office. Organising this chaos is a struggle. But with hardware becoming cheaper and efficiency more urgent, document management may provide the answer. There are several classes of document management. The more ubiquitous is document management systems (DMS) or electronic document management system (EDMS). Both labour to classify documents in a central digital filing cabinet called a document repository. Here, documents are filed according to historical value and how they relate to each other. Meta data (similar to a contents or index page) is supplied for each file to describe what it holds. With the proliferation of the Web as a medium for exchanging documents, a new category called Web Content Management (WCM) was born. This does the same as DMS but only extends the paradigm to include Web-related documents, like publishing webpages on the intranet or internet. Digital Asset Management (DAM) takes over where DMS stops. Essentially, DAM works the same way as DRM products, except it files according to binary details rather than text. This means the repository will be organised according to the bits and bytes, and the meta data will describe the content. DAM is used when materials including pictures, graphics and sometimes video need to be filed. In essence, digital filing encompasses all these concepts in different degrees. Vendors also offer a fusion of these capabilities in their products. If you file text documents online, a simple WCM solution will be enough. If you need to file large documents and need to know the version and the relationship to other documents, an enterprise-wide DMS solution will be worthwhile. If you deal with pictures and graphics, such as an advertising agency, then invest in a DAM solution. Then there is the cost. In a report published by United States-based Jupiter Research last year, then analyst Matthew Berk said: 'All too often, content management solutions don't live up to that expectation, creating frustrated business executives and IT staff who somehow have to squeeze return out of this hefty investment.' Enterprise-class products tend to be pricey - a key issue in document management. The problem is that an over-arching product will take months to install and will chalk up costs in terms of consultancy fees. The alternative is the economical, open-source software. Free and low-cost digital filing products are available which use the open-source route to development. Open-source means the code in the software is developed in collaboration with programmers worldwide, and is not tied to any commercial obligation. Companies can adopt open-source software and sell it as a package, as long as the changes they make to the code are freely available. This community approach has sparked much controversy and has even splayed the market grip of major software vendors. It has also driven costs down. Midgard, a pure-play open-source content management firm, is one example. Midgard organises content into a hierarchical directory built atop the popular and freely available Apache Web server. Built by publishing company Knight-Ridder for its newspapers, Cofax is a digital filing software available under the open-source licence. Which is best? This depends on your filing needs and where you want to go from there. Taking a company-wide approach or a department approach depends on the size and critical needs of your office.