The digital world has eliminated the need for filing cabinets, folders, drawers, and tabs. However, that doesn’t mean things have suddenly become easier when looking for a document. In fact, without solid organization and nomenclature rules, all the digital files a business generates can create a giant mess in a network. This is where document management comes into play.
What Is Document Management?
The art or science of document management is literally what the name says, managing documents. While it may not sound exciting like a company merger or the sale of a Lamborghini, document management is critical for multiple aspects of a business. That includes employee records, tax records, accounting, sales transactions, marketing, organizational reference, and much more. Without keeping track of everything thoughtfully, a business management team will quickly find itself in a very frustrating mess, which usually becomes apparent when crucial documents are needed quickly.
First and foremost, the goal of document management is to make it easy to find documents. It should not involve rocket science to pull an accounting record, a menu copy for spring, or an employee timesheet. However, when left to their own devices, people tend to create 51 ways of doing things, so standardization is the key. By requiring everyone to name, file, save and retrieve documents the same way, efficiencies are achieved.
Second, not all documents are the same. For example, many legal documents are longer than regular page size. Maps and GIS-related documents also tend to be bigger. Timesheets, stubs, and receipt forms tend to be smaller. A second key standardization approach is to use a method where any document is digitized in a way that saves its original form, but it´s reduced for easy viewing.
Of course, dimensions will trigger additional requirements for businesses with even more complicated or varied forms. This is common with offices that use different form types for different transactions. So, some thinking needs to be done to anticipate these differences and the necessary equipment to scan and process these sizes quickly and efficiently.
Finally, good document management involves:
- An overall plan of how documents are processed and where they are saved.
- Their naming and order.
- Their archiving and redundancy.
The last bit is really important. Where will the backup replacement for a document come from if something goes wrong? Some of the best document management systems are useless if the backup approach is not addressed adequately. Always plan for the worst.
How Document Management Can Benefit Your Business
A well-designed document management system will produce immediate benefits, the first being improved workflow. Employees will be able to store documents quickly, items will be organized with easy naming and structure, and the contents will be easy to find. Keep in mind there will likely be different input methods, such as scanning, document copier systems and electronic saving. Whatever the case, all the files should be saved with format rules, specific naming, and metadata for searching capability, categorization, and redundancy (backup archiving for disaster response). Everything should be automated as much as possible so people spend more time working and creating and less time managing files. Think about it in terms of time labor costs; every hour saved from filing is an hour of labor that can be spent on generating income.
Additionally, standardization of files and organization help save network space. A tremendous amount of data storage gets lost, with people saving their files willy-nilly in different formats. Forcing documents to be saved in a set format with compression and organization can recapture significant storage space. Other benefits of going digital are freeing up a tremendous amount of floor space and physical storage.
When finding records, digital search is faster, hands down, than any physical search. Using metadata and electronic searching, finding a specific document becomes exponentially easier. This cuts down time lost, and consequently, productivity in other areas, ideally income-generating, increases. Most companies switching to a digital document management system will see a 15 percent boost in work productivity with time loss avoided trying to find missing documents.
Physical security of documents is only as good as the room and filing cabinet things are kept in. Digitally, using the right security features and account authorizations, records are more secure. Again, redundancies like automatic backup must be in place to provide quick recovery.
How to Determine If Document Management Is a Good Fit
Of course, every document management system needs to be tailored to the user. There is no generic model that fits everyone perfectly. So, to evaluate how a system works for a particular business, a company should look for the following features:
- The system should have a low learning curve and be easy to use. Less time spent learning and more time doing is the ideal balance.
- The features should match the needs of the business, not the other way around.
- The costs should be within budget. What’s the point of a system if it creates debt liability for a business?
- Companies in a particular industry should note what similar businesses use for their document management. Learn from others’ mistakes and experiences where possible.
To discuss requirements for your Winston Salem, Greensboro, or Charlotte business, contact Kelly Office Solutions today. Give our team a call, and we can talk about how your confirmed criteria marry up with our document management system offerings. You’ll be surprised at what’s possible!