Traditional office storage systems are dead. Nowadays, crowded filing cabinets and disorderly desk drawers simply won’t do when it comes to keeping your documents in check. The typical office has evolved considerably in recent years, with more organizations than ever adopting a paperless approach. However, if you’re planning on joining the paperless revolution, you’ll need a reliable document management system (DMS) at your disposal.
A document management system can prove invaluable to businesses of all sizes and yield considerable savings. In the United States, it’s estimated that the average business spends around 3 percent of total revenues on printing. Making the move to paperless with a DMS will streamline document retrieval and overhaul information organization in general.
Document Management Systems Explained
A document management system is a piece of business software that allows you to capture, store, and manage electronic files. Most of the time, these files will have originated as a paper document, before being scanned and integrated into the system. In addition to providing you with an expansive storage solution, a document management system will allow you to meticulously manage your files, as well as track changes.
Keeping track of revised versions of documents can prove difficult when dealing solely with paper. However, the automated functionality of the average DMS means new versions are recorded as distinct documents. In the past, document management systems were rather limited in scope, storing little else than scanned copies of paper documents. Modern systems are a different animal entirely. An electronic DMS will allow you to manage image versions of traditional paperwork, as well as electronic documents. You can also manage things like associated emails, electronic forms, image files, and much more.
Key Benefits of Using a Document Management System
If you’re tired of tackling a mountain of paperwork every time you need to access a document, it’s time to consider investing in a DMS. In addition to saving you from having to dedicate precious square footage to paper storage, an electronic data management system brings significant benefits to any enterprise.
Streamlined document retrieval
Having to retrieve paper documents manually can prove incredibly time-consuming. In fact, many businesses report that some workers dedicate more than six hours every week to retrieve paper documents. Switching to a document management system means your employees can access documents remotely without having to their terminal. Provided you’ve taken the time to establish a user-friendly indexing system, tracking down once hard-to-find documents can take seconds.
With more businesses abandoning paper and transitioning to purely digital infrastructures, it’s never been more important that information is protected against outside threats. This is particularly vital if your business is storing confidential customer data or sensitive business information. Simply dumping your data on an in-house server won’t provide adequate protection against data breaches and other cyber threats. However, even the most basic of document management systems will come loaded with advanced security options. You can set your access restrictions, controlling exactly who sees what. What’s more, you can keep an eye on activity across every document stored on your system.
Adhering to regulatory compliance can prove difficult for any business, especially if you’re relying on paper documents. An electronic management system takes all the hard work out of staying compliant. The automated nature of document management systems makes quick work of ensuring all documents you are dealing with are compliant, leaving no scope for manual error. Staying compliant means you’ll never encounter costly fines or, in the worst case, find yourself criminally liable.
Access important documents from anywhere
Document management systems will broaden your horizons when it comes to sharing digital information. Even small businesses can benefit from the enhanced collaboration afforded by a DMS. An electronic management system means your team can access documents from various locations, freeing you up from having to do business from a single site. Remote access not only makes sharing documents a breeze, but it also allows you to track changes and keep an eye on live workflows.
Flexible document management
The costs of commercial premises are on the rise, with smaller businesses particularly vulnerable to rent increases. If your square footage is a highly valued commodity, committing too much space to the storage of paper documents doesn’t make sense. Unlike a conventional filing system, a document management system can evolve along with the needs of your business. A reliable DMS will also allow you to revise your indexing systems quickly and easily.
Managing and maintaining a manual filing system costs time as well as money. Manually retrieving physical documents consumes countless man-hours every year. Creating, filing, and physically annotating these documents further distracts from more important tasks. The automated functionality of a document management system does away with all this manual work, allowing you to refocus your attention elsewhere.
Things to Consider When Choosing a DMS Provide
A document management system is an essential investment for any growing business. However, if you want to leverage a DMS effectively, you need to think carefully when selecting a provider. Below, we break down the most important factors to focus on when choosing a document management system.
When choosing a new DMS, take the time to investigate general security features, as well as the security methods implemented by the provider. This latter point is particularly important if you’re choosing a provider that will host your DMS for you.
If you want a DMS that grows with your business, scalability is important. There’s no point investing in a DMS if it can’t expand as your enterprise does. Many document management systems will require minor tweaks to accommodate enterprise growth. However, any reliable platform should have a scalable infrastructure that can be realigned with the changing needs of your business.
Make sure you’re choosing a DMS that will benefit your business. There’s no point wasting money on a platform that won’t drive productivity. An accessible DMS will make your day-to-day business operations far more efficient, even if you only intend to use it for digitizing document storage.
User Experience and Integration Capabilities
If you want multiple departments to use your DMS, your platform will need to be accessible. If your teams will be using different types of devices to access your DMS, you’ll also need a platform that can function just as well on a smartphone as it can on a desktop computer. If your operation depends on existing applications, a DMS with integration capabilities is also a must.
Choose a Credible Provider
Be thorough when researching the background of a DMS provider. You need a provider with a proven track record of delivering first-rate products. Customer ratings are all well and good, but you’ll need to delve into case studies to get a clearer picture of how well a provider has performed in the past. Target particular service areas like customer support performance, troubleshooting assistance, and update release schedules.
Making the Move to Paperless
A business that relies solely on paper documents is a business doomed to fail. Even companies that utilize digital documents will struggle to remain competitive if they’re not organizing files effectively. Mismanagement of business-critical documents can wreak havoc on client relations, costing you considerable money in the long run. It also means you’re wasting precious manpower that can be better utilized elsewhere.
The transition from paper documents to an electronic document management system can seem daunting, but it’s an essential next step for any business looking to remain competitive. With a reliable DMS at your disposal, you can automate workflows, eliminate manual errors, and see productivity rates soar.
Greg Tuohy is the Managing Director of Docutec, a business printer and office automation software provider. Greg was appointed Managing Director in June 2011 and is the driving force behind the team at the Cantec Group. Immediately after completing a Science degree at UCC in 1995, Greg joined the family copier/printer business.