Organizations – regardless of industry – process vast amounts of documents in both digital and paper form. In fact, the average U.S. office worker alone uses 10,000 sheets of paper, annually. Apply this statistic to an organization of 100 or even 500 employees, and you quickly begin to appreciate the volume of documents moving through organizations.
These organizations usually perform best when they can capture, store, access, and manage documents with speed and efficiency. Without the hassle of cumbersome workflows. Without the difficulty of finding the information. Without the feeling that a file’s gone missing.
The chances are, your organization's no different. You probably recognize the inefficiencies of managing all this paper, and that tedious manual processes are impacting productivity. You likely also acknowledge there’s a better way of handling and managing all these documents.
Perhaps you’ve already implemented a solution in your own business and are reaping the benefits? If not, it may be time to embrace document management. Read on to learn almost everything you need to know about document management and how it can help your business:
· What it is
· Whether you can manage your documents in the cloud
· How it has evolved over the years
· The benefits for your company
· Where you can apply it
· The three-step process to implement it in your business
What is document management?
Document management — also known as document management systems (DMS) — helps you organize paper and digital files in a central digital repository. These systems process, capture, store, manage and track documents within your organization. However, that’s only the half of it.
The standard components of a DMS
Any DMS usually has certain standard components. These include:
· Capturing and storing: Easily process documents from a variety of sources such as scanners and printers and store these documents in a central digital repository
· Control access and security: Set smart rules to control who has rights to access certain documents — particularly useful for documents of confidential nature
· Indexing and retrieving: Scan and index documents automatically for easy tracking and retrieval. Indexing happens in a variety of ways, e.g., by assigning distinctive tags
· Sharing: Share any documents safely across multiples systems without fear of loss
· Collaborating: Collectively work on documents while avoiding multiple versions
· Business intelligence: Manage, organize and access business-critical records and information
· Integration: Systems today have workflow modules and can integrate with other systems to automate processes and reduce inefficiencies
Can you do document management in the cloud?
Older systems were on-premises systems that had dated technology. But, today new systems — available for project management, human resources (HR), and managing documents — are mobile friendly, cloud-based, and provide integration.
Many companies are transitioning from these older systems to cloud-based ones, and this proliferation will only continue. According to Gartner, Inc., “More than $1 trillion in IT spending will be directly or indirectly affected by the shift to cloud during the next five years. This will make cloud computing one of the most disruptive forces of IT spending since the early days of the digital age.”
Driving this proliferation is the “lightness” of the cloud. In comparison to on-premises systems which require upgrades, installations, and regular maintenance, cloud deployment is rapid and requires minimal maintenance.
This “lightness” provides many other benefits including the ability to scale and better operational flexibility. The results? Improved efficiency, productivity, and agility — all of which help you set a new pace for business.
The cost of cloud is less than on-premises
Customers love DocuWare's cloud solutions for their fast deployment, upfront flexibility and long-term value. The overall cost of cloud is far less than an equivalent on-premises deployment.
How has document management evolved?
Now that you understand the essential components of any DMS and recognize there’s a shift to cloud-based solutions, it’s time to look at how document management has evolved. The first iteration is basic systems that capture and store documents, the second, advanced systems that manage enterprise-wide content and, the third, content services that focus on interoperability.
1. Enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS)
EFSS is the most basic and affordable type of system that lets you synchronize, store, and share documents, images, and videos — across devices. Some solutions also let you collaborate on documents and track different versions. But, the simplicity of EFSS is not without its limitations: EFSS gives you limited —if any— control over workflows.
EFSS can be both software and cloud-based, allowing you to save and share files locally and also in a private cloud. Indeed many companies prefer the latter option due to the security risks of the public cloud. Typical examples of cloud-based EFSS solutions include Dropbox, Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and Box.
2. Enterprise content management (ECM)
ECM is a blanket term used for DMS and workflow automation technologies. Common capabilities of an ECM system include information automation, imaging, managing documents, digital workflow, web content management, and social content management.
These systems are more attuned to the procedures and processes in an organization, and how to manage content to achieve business goals. They help companies collect, store, organize, access and share information with those who need it. More importantly, these systems are deeply embedded in a companies IT infrastructure, with a focus on improving workflows and automating processes.
However, many ECM systems today remain large, complicated and expensive, offering “one-size-fits” all solutions that don’t work for you and your specific processes. It’s for that reason they’re generally suited for Fortune 500 Companies.
3. Modern content services
Gartner defines content services as follows:
“Content services are a set of services and microservices, embodied either as an integrated product suite or as separate applications that share common APIs and repositories, to exploit diverse content types and to serve multiple constituencies and numerous use cases across an organization."
Simply put, content services consist of an ecosystem of smaller purpose-built systems or applications. Content service platforms have their own repository and can also easily connect with other applications through an API.
Modern content services are an ideal middle-ground between the two previous tiers: They’re affordable while providing customized solutions to help you improve specific processes. An example would be DocuWare preconfigured cloud solutions for employee engagement and invoice processing.
Extra benefits of content services include the ability to meet changing compliance while remaining scalable. But, explaining content services wouldn’t be complete without understanding the evolution of ECM — this evolution led to what we now call “content services.”
The evolution of ECM to content services
ECM systems evolved from these, complex, one-size fits all systems into what we now call content services. This evolution consisted of a shift from old, on-premises systems, to new cloud-based systems that are mobile friendly, and focus on interoperability.
This natural shift led to Gartner issuing a statement saying, “ECM is dead,” and is now replaced by "content services." Some aren’t happy and say that Gartner had no right to take it upon themselves to rename ECM, and all that matters is how customers use it.
Regardless content services are here to stay and will amplify the benefits you get from DMS.
What are the benefits of document management?
Combining these benefits with the "lightness" of the cloud will help you set a new pace for your business.
1. Reduced burden of paper: lower cost and less hassle
Implementing a DMS is the first step in creating a paperless office and will rid you of paper inefficiencies:
2. You spend less time searching for files — a cumbersome and time-consuming task — and more time on high-value work because you can now easily organize and find content
3. You no longer have to create multiple versions of the same document for distribution. Instead, you can store a master copy in a central location for easy access
4. Beyond the actual cost of paper — distributing, filing, and storing paper is expensive. Digitizing internal paper-based systems will reduce printing and other operational costs
5. Moving paper is slow, but with a DMS you streamline your internal and external processes
Where can you typically apply document management?
Besides document-centric and common business processes, document management is often used in HR, finance, and sales and marketing. We explore these areas and share two customer success stories in finance and HR.
1. Document management in human resources
HR has some crucial decisions to make such as whom to hire, how to improve the onboarding process, and how to best manage employees.
A DMS assists HR managers with these critical areas by automating the capture of employee records, HR files, and business documents into a central repository. From there, HR managers can create simple workflows to manage these critical areas. Consider these examples:
· Finding the right talent is easy because applications forms and email are stored in one central place for easy retrieval by decision makers, and information flows effortlessly between team members.
· The employee onboarding process is improved as managers can create digital workflows for all new hires, e.g., you can send automatic welcome and orientation emails
2. Document management in finance and accounting
Achieve efficiency in finance and accounting areas such as accounts payable, accounts receivable and financial audits.
Realize a new pace in accounts payable by:
· Quickly and easily capturing paper and electronic invoices
· Assigning documents to predefined file structures for easy retrieval
· Automatically matching invoices to purchase orders
· Providing unique workflows for the approval process
· Avoiding human errors, reducing invoice handling, and eliminating manual data entry
Speed up invoice collections by linking related documents to the order process so that you can create and process invoices faster, and track and manage payments. You can, for example, combine invoicing with release workflows.
Finally, you can store a full and secure record of all business transactions which helps during an audit process. These include emails, contracts, and other confidential information. Access this historical information when you need it, without delays.
3. Document management in sales and marketing
According to a CSO Insights survey, “88% of sales professionals are unable to find or bring up critical sales material up on their smartphones.” The result? Longer sales cycles and lost deals.
A DMS solves this problem by — among other things:
· Capturing leads with web forms that can then be routed to the right sales team
· Storing critical sales and marketing material in a digital repository for retrieval
· Sharing relevant documents and information with team members securely
Ultimately, your employees become empowered, productivity improves and sales and marketing functions better.
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