Moving from paper-based to digital document management can be both an enormous time saving and cost saving tool for any organization. Switching from working with paper doesn’t have to be difficult. As an example, you may be searching for records which might be anywhere in the office, or even out of office in a file which someone has taken home with them – it could be anywhere. The alternative? A document management system which lets you save files of any type in a central location and make it available whenever and wherever you are.
Customer service improves, and less time is wasted. When stored in one location, the required documents can be recalled (in their original format) quickly and easily, and you can also automate workflows.
Where is your data and what format is it in now?
Where is all your paper filed now and how can it be converted into an electronic? Chances are it is hole-punched, stuck into files and then placed into a filing cabinet (a choice of many across the office) or stuck on shelves. All sorts of paper documents come into the office from the outside world, and all sorts of documents are created internally.
Many documents are already electronic – attached to emails or in the body of emails, or created in other software such as Excel, Word, etc. Keeping track and filing of all the documents relating to a client or a project can be a real challenge.
Where are the inefficiencies in the business? All manual-based processes that require human intervention and the passing of paper from one pair of hands to another is inherently inefficient and time consuming. Printing everything – emails, Excel documents etc. is also inefficient and potentially costly. It is necessary to identify the processes and consider how things could be done “better”.
Digitize the paper and stop creating more
Existing paper files can be scanned and converted into an electronic format. There are choices – draw a line in the sand and change the methodologies going forward, or back-scan everything. This can appear a major task, but the documents may be able to be whittled down dramatically, and the whole process could be outsourced to a specialist scanning business.
Stop the printing and keep the electronic files. If paper needs to be printed e.g. for a meeting, either scan it back into the system afterwards, or shred it. Do not file it away!
Who can access the electronic files?
It is likely that not all documents will be made available to all; not everyone needs to see the accounts or bank statements for example. In the same way as a filing cabinet can be locked to prevent unauthorized access, document management systems allow permissions to be set to restrict access.
The client or customer will want access to certain files so the uploading of documents to a secure portal, accessible with a user login and password, makes these available to them whenever they need them.
Integrating your applications
The document management software should easily integrate with ALL critical business applications. The ability to send any document of any type from within the major tools used in the business is extremely useful e.g. buttons built into Word, Excel and Outlook. Other documents of any type should be able to be saved too though, so that the document management system contains everything.
A document management system is often overlooked but in the fast moving and ever changing electronic world, is fast becoming an essential tool to consolidate all the data.