Improper or outdated document management practices are a challenge for businesses of all kinds. Manual systems are not only out of date but also highly inefficient and ineffective. Further, when an organization doesn’t take steps to solve the problem company-wide, different departments and divisions will adopt their own practices and make their investments, which further complicates the situation. The range of different file storage behaviors, file terminology, etc., can slow down the overall business and can seriously hinder productivity and profitability.
The implementation of an electronic document management system (DMS), however, can bring serious efficiency, automatically organize your files, and improve employee productivity. A centralized system will improve employee usability across the organization, and perhaps equally important, can be integrated with almost any prior document management practices or systems.
Can a DMS replace other systems or processes?
A DMS is designed to improve the overall efficiency within your workplace, especially as more businesses shift toward using electronic resources each day. As a result, a DMS can replace a variety of previous processes, including how and where files are stored, and how files are used.
Document storage for paper documents can drain resources, including time and space to basic costs. When storing and managing documents off-site as an example, you take on costs just to keep a roof over the head of your documents. The documents simply sit there in their banker’s boxes, collecting dust, while your money is squirreled away only for you to dispose of the documents after the required retention period expires. And though you may at that time indeed dispose of the documents, it never fails that there was something of value in the documents that you didn’t know it was there until it was gone. Yet, it isn’t cost-effective to maintain records indefinitely, and thus, this is a risk that many companies are often forced to take.
Not only that but since the documents aren’t in a dedicated storage room on site, the time required to retrieve the files is yet an additional expense and resource drain. This creates a benefit in keeping documents onsite, but often this isn’t possible as space comes at a premium, and it is often better to house additional produce human resources vs. a bunch of file boxes.
With a DMS, on the other hand, managing and storing your business documents becomes a one-time investment and storage space isn’t a concern, as files are saved digitally in the cloud. Able to store an infinite amount of digital records without concerns of accessibility, retrievability, or ongoing costs, a DMS will streamline workflow and reduce (if not altogether alleviate) the cost of document storage and management.
Implementing and maintaining your DMS
When your organization makes the decision to transition to an electronic DMS, there are an array of steps that should be taken. Here are some of the main processes to consider when implementing a DMS:
- Take time to leverage the scanning software in your new DMS. Modern DMS systems leverage optical character recognition (OCR) tools that can pick up the type of older documents, and can make these documents easy to store and access in the future.
- Once your older documents have been scanned into the DMS, be sure to shred or destroy them so that they do not pose a security risk to your organization. Once your DMS system has the records on file, there is no need to keep the paper copies on file.
- Be sure to manually add and index digital documents that were created using other company software packages – this includes Microsoft files, CSV spreadsheets, etc.
- Set the controls for access levels for users across the organization. This will ensure only those that need to have access to a file can actually see it. Taking time to get these permissions in place will provide for further security within the organization.
- Update your internal company document management policies to account for your new DMS. For example, be sure to document and communicate to employees the process for them to store a document in the DMS, how files should be named, and how long the records should be retained.
- Conduct a thorough review of the features and benefits of your DMS. Ensure that all employees that will be accessing files are properly trained in advance of your day-forward scanning process roll-out.
- Establish a day-forward scanning process. This means that your business will need to pick a date in the near future where you will no longer keep paper files. Going forward, all newly created company records and documents will be scanned, stored, and handled digitally using an electronic document management system. With your company’s new DMS, all your records will be organized and indexed after storage, helping to accelerate the time it takes to retrieve records, improve the efficiency in your office, and decrease the cost of storing your paper files right at the office.
With your electronic DMS, your files will always be up to date
In addition to helping document storage and management more affordable and with a stronger return-on-investment (ROI), there are a variety of other key benefits. Most importantly, you will improve the efficiency of work across your organization and will ensure that time is no longer wasted by out of date document management processes. Further, permeating and using a stored document within a DMS enables multiple employees to access and view digital files all at the same time. Those past days when only one person can retrieve and use a paper document at a time will be no more.
Adopting an using a DMS won’t just provide greater accessibility, making it faster and easier for users to use the same document for their individual daily work. It will also make it faster and easier to ensure that the most up to date documents are being stored and used properly.
Gone will be the days of version control issues and multiple copies working their way around the company with different or out of date information. The unique stand-alone digital file in the DMS that is used by multiple users will be updated in real time. This means better productivity, more accuracy in customer service levels and process-adherence, and improved security for your organization.