Terrorist attack on Inland Revenue Dept. building

Sleepy For two weeks, I was busy with exams, so couldn’t write anything. Hopefully will do some posts this month.

Friday night on week before last, two LTTE light aircrafts entered Colombo on a suicide mission. Unlike previous attempts this time they couldn’t accomplish the mission and both aircrafts were gunned down by security forces. However one aircraft crashed in to the Inland revenue department building in Colombo, recalling us the 9-11 attack !. Luckily it was at night and no one was inside the building. However it looked like the building has been damaged extensively and I was wondering what has happened to all the data that was there at that time. According to my understanding they had most of the documents only in the original format, which is obviously paper, without any digital copies. Later it was announced that all the data is intact and they could continue to work in few days. Applause

Anyway this was an eye opener for everyone here, showing how vulnerable our records are. The good news is that several government organisations has just started on digital archiving. (However i believe that most government organisations maintain their vital records in microfilms.) I remember when we started selling these services few years back; it was quite difficult to convince the decision makers as there was no local example to showcase. The sales cycle was 1-2 years and sometimes even several years long Sad. Interestingly we found more opportunities in forms processing rather than in document imaging. In contrast private sector organisations adopted this technology very fast, especially in banking and financial services. However now things are better with government organisations, especially after the birth certificates conversion project that was completed last year.(I will discuss about this project in details sometimes later.)

(This is a video of the first aircraft hitting the IR building)





The importance of paper sizes and the layout in ECM

Couple of years back I was handling a document conversion project for a well known multinational. There were two main obstacles that we had to face.

1. The main document that we had to scan was in a non standard size. It was a bit longer than an A3 paper. This prevented us from using most of our scanners, since they were not capable of scanning papers longer than A3. Among all what we had, the only scanner capable of this at that time was the good old Kodak – I 260. Even for that we had to add additional RAM. (At present the problem is not that significant since there are several models of scanners that support scanning of extra-long documents. I will write about these in a separate post).

What we can learn from this is that it would be very much easy and cheaper to scan a standard size document than a non-standard size. The scanners are designed having considering the standard paper sizes (ISO as well as US sizes). More than that, this is a main factor upon which the price of a scanner depends on. As an example a scanner that can scan A3 size documents will cost around 4-5 times of a scanner that can scan only up to A4 or legal. So my personal opinion is that it is always good to keep your documents at A4 or legal size. This also helps a lot in the handling as well as storage of documents. Having non standard size documents will make it more difficult to file, store and even copy a document.

2. The main document was an application form which had all the filled in information in one side and the applicant’s signature on the other side. That was because the second side was full of all the terms and conditions under which the customer had to place the signature. Since the signature was required to capture we had to scan both sides of the page.

If the signature was on the same side along with the other details then we could have scanned only that side of the page. This would have reduced the cost of conversion by 50% , and reduced the project duration at least by 20-30%. Not only that we would have reduced the storage and bandwidth requirements by about 30%. So this is a good example why you need to consider about the layout of the documents.

These are just two examples of how the size and the layout of documents will matter in your ECM activities.

Paper as the starting point of an ECM strategy?

As the name says, ECM (Enterprise Content Management) is about managing the total content of the entire organisation. As people who are working in IT, we tend to limit our focus about electronic content only; namely electronic files, scanned images, emails etc.. But what about physical documents?

I think any ECM strategy should start from considering about managing of paper documents in the organisation, since most of the content will become a paper document at some stage of it’s lifecycle. The paperless office that everyone was talking about (and still talks about) may not be a reality soon. Also managing of paper documents has gained more consideration due to the increasing printing expenses and “Go-green” initiatives that take place at present.

There are lot of things that one needs to consider about physical document management. I will start with one most simple yet very important factor to consider; paper sizes.

As we all know paper documents come in different sizes and in different nature. The standardisation of measurement of paper started by a mathematician named Georg Lichtenberg, in Germany and later adopted and supported by ISO. (This is an interesting article about the history of paper sizes here )

Some interesting facts to know;

1. There is a relationship between the width and the length of a standard paper which is; Length = 1.414 * Width (1 to the square root of 2).

2. One square metre is taken as the starting point of measuring, which is called the size A0, the remaining sizes are calculated by halving the preceding size.

3. Almost all industrialised countries adopt ISO – 216 as the standard for measuring paper sizes except US and Canada. πŸ™‚

In my next post I will write about the importance of considering the paper sizes when planning an ECM strategy.

(paperonweb is a good reference site for more information regarding paper sizes as well as anything related to paper.)


Here I am, started blogging at last. I will be writing here about document management; technical as well as managerial aspects.

Why I wanted to write about document managment ? Due to several reasons. First becasue I love this industry and enjoys so much the new chanllenges it brings on each day. Second is the fact that this is still a growing (yes, growing very fast) industry, especaiily in this part of the world. So I will contribute as much as I can, towards it’s development. Also I will use this as a log book, if not as a diary.

I am not an experienced blogger, this is my first such experience. I will try to keep it interesting as much as possible. You are welcome to correct me and make suggestions and contributions.

Let us see how it goes;:-)

Bye for now
amila hendahewa

About me…


My name is Amila Hendahewa. I am the Lead Consultant for Enterprise Information Management at n-Able (Pvt) Ltd, in Sri Lanka.

This blog is all about Enterprise & Social Content Management (technical as well as managerial aspects), and project management.

I started this blog due to several reasons. First because I love this industry and enjoys so much the new challenges it brings on each day. Second is the fact that ECM is still a growing (yes, growing very fast) industry, especially in this part of the world. So I will contribute as much as I can, towards it’s development. Also I will use this as a log book, if not as a diary.

Thank you for visiting my blog. You may contact me on amila.hendahewa@live.com.