Poor document management practices are a problem that plagues businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Without standardized systems for storing and managing information, as documents move throughout a company its various departments will attempt to find their own system to effectively manage documents and workflow.
While it may help to streamline their own individual work, this range of different systems leads to disorganization like document version sprawl once employees from other parts of the company need to use the documents—ultimately slowing down the business as a whole.
This is where an electronic document management system (DMS) comes into the picture. Offering a centralized system with improved usability, a DMS comes with a range of features that help to boost workplace efficiency—and the best part is they can be integrated with nearly any company’s pre-existing document management practices.
What Systems Can a Document Management System Be Integrated With?
At its most basic, an electronic DMS is designed to improve the workflow of information throughout businesses and organizations, and is often implemented and added to a variety of different systems for managing documents.
Coming with numerous advantages, a DMS can be seamlessly integrated with an existing company document management policy and its procedures, and can even eliminate steps to the process entirely.
Document Retention Policies
As just one example, document retention policies are a crucial component to document management procedures—both for the purpose of legal compliance as well as document security—and with a DMS, the moment documents are added to the system they can be marked and retained according to a company’s existing retention policy.
The beauty of DMS tracking for retention periods is it doesn’t just provide a digital alternative for traditional methods of managing document retention—it simplifies the process. With custom retention periods being automatically tracked in the DMS, IT departments can forego these basic administrative tasks and instead focus entirely on maintaining the system and other electronic company resources.
Existing Company Document Inventories
When switching to a DMS and implementing it as the method for storing and managing company documents, most businesses typically aren’t going to start with a clean slate. With an already existing paper record inventory they need to keep, these documents also need to be integrated with the new system.
With a DMS however, adding these documents is a simple task. Using document scanning services, a company can have their documents organized and converted to digital formats to be stored in the DMS.
From the initial scanning—which includes conversion with optical character recognition (OCR) software to allow documents to be easily searched, edited, and even redacted to prevent sensitive information—to indexing and post-production work, the scanning provider is able to quickly perform each step of the conversion process.
As a result, scanning and adding existing document inventories to a DMS allows a company to pick up their document management right where they left off, rather than needing to interrupt daily work and divest resources for a few employees to go through the slow process of the entire transfer themselves.
Different Document Formats and Types
Besides standard paper documents, a DMS can also incorporate a range of file formats and types ranging from Excel spreadsheets and medical records to full-size architectural drawings and small credit card receipts.
How to handle microfilm and microfiche storage is a common format problem that comes up when converting to a DMS, however with the use of scanning services to add records to a DMS, backed up information using microfiche disk storage can also be converted to digital format and stored with the rest of the company records.
Like with scanning and adding traditional documents to a DMS, microfilm images are converted using OCR software. The microfilm scanners are equipped with sophisticated image-enhancement software—oftentimes creating digital images that are higher-quality than the original film.
When it comes to an architectural or engineering company needing a DMS for blueprints, mylars, and other drawings or images, a range of formats stretching from “A” to “J” image sizes can also be scanned and implemented with electronic document management systems.
Like with any other readily-available and easily-accessible digital documents managed using a DMS, blueprints and other documents can be converted and stored in a DMS with range of file outputs to best suit the needs of their users, including PDF, TIFF, and even DWG, CALS, or JEDMICS.
What Systems Can an Electronic DMS Replace?
Consequently, a DMS can be used to replace a range of components to paper-based document management policies such as how and where they’re stored, handled, and used.
Among others, here are just a few common document management systems and practices a DMS can replace:
On Site or Off Site Document Storage Space
Prior to adopting a DMS, document storage for hard-copy documents can draw heavily on resources ranging from time and space to basic costs.
When storing and managing documents at an off site location for instance, the cost of ongoing services means you essentially are paying rent to keep a roof over the documents heads. Additionally, because the documents aren’t kept ten feet away in a dedicated storage room, the time required to retrieve the files is another expense to consider since, after all, time is money.
Rather than paying for the cost of ongoing off site storage, if documents are kept in-house there are still less-apparent costs to keep in mind such as the value of office space as well as the cost of time as before.
The space dedicated to storing the documents—whether in filing cabinets or dedicated storage room—can instead be used to drive revenue if an employee is occupying it. There isn’t a wait time with accessing these documents like with off site hard-copy storage, and companies no longer need to pay an employee dedicated specifically to managing, organizing, and re-filing records.
With a DMS on the other hand, storing and managing company documents becomes a one-time investment. Able to store millions of digital records without the associated accessibility issues, ongoing costs, or significant storage space of other strategies, a DMS can both streamline workflow and reduce the cost of document storage and management.
Designated Employee Document Management and Handling
Additionally, a document management system provides a consolidated document inventory for employees that’s accessible from their computers—removing the need for a designated employee to manage and file documents like with a paper-based document management policy.
The DMS works as a file manager itself—keeping all company documents organized and up-to-date with current file copies.
By taking out the hourly pay for what is essentially nothing more than a middle-man for the employees actually using documents for their work, eliminating employee document managers from the process can help to recoup the initial investment of a DMS.
“One At a Time” Document Access and Keeping Records Copies Up to Date
Besides helping to make document storage and management more cost-efficient, other key advantages to storing scanned documents in a DMS include its ability to improve the efficiency of work and keep time from being wasted by poor document management processes like not keeping documents up to date.
Accessing and using a stored document with a DMS allows multiple employees to view and access digital files simultaneously, rather than only one person being able to retrieve and use a paper document at a time.
Using a DMS doesn’t just provide the benefit of greater accessibility and making it faster and easier for users to use the same document for their individual daily work—it also makes it faster and easier to ensure that the most up to date documents are being stored and used.
Rather than multiple copies floating around with different information and edits being made, the single digital file in the DMS that’s used by various users is updated in real time, meaning common document management issues like version sprawl and maintaining security for multiple versions of sensitive information no longer need to plague companies.
How to Implement and Maintain Your DMS
When making the initial transition and eventually maintaining an effective DMS, there are a several steps which should be taken and kept in mind with the use of an electronic system for managing and storing records.
Here are some of the main processes to take when implementing a DMS:
- Scanning pre-existing paper records with OCR to be stored and easily used in digital format with the document management system.
- Shredding and destroying documents once digital copies are made, as old paper documents are no longer needed and only pose a risk for their security to be compromised by keeping them around.
- Adding and indexing electronic documents made using other company software packages like CSV spreadsheets in the DMS with other files.
- Setting controls for user accessibility restrictions and document redaction to protect sensitive information both in-house and if shared with outside organizations.
- Updating company document management policies for electronic systems like how employees should store documents in the DMS and adding retention periods.
- Integrating a day-forward scanning process once the DMS is up and running to continue adding paper files to the DMS as new documents are created or received.
While these are the basic steps you should be sure to take when implementing a DMS, there are various types of document management systems with additional features to suit individual companies. Ranging from the ability to integrate and export multiple file formats to enhanced search capabilities, a DMS can be implemented to meet virtually any business or industry’s document management needs.
Looking to Integrate a DMS With Your Document Management? Find a System to Suit Your Need With Record Nations
Proper document management practices and systems are crucial to keeping a company running smoothly, but with the help of a DMS, companies can make managing the workflow of information throughout the organization far less of a hassle.
At Record Nations, we specialize in helping companies in need of secure and effective document management strategies to find a system that suits their need. Partnering with a nationwide network of document scanning, storage, and shredding providers, we strive to ensure you have a range of options to meet your budget and requirements.
To get started with finding a suitable DMS for your company or to learn more about any of our available services, just give us a call at (866) 385-3706, or simply fill out the form at the right to get free quotes on document management systems today.
Additional Electronic Document Management Resources
Scanning documents and creating a paperless office provides invaluable boosts to work efficiency and productivity. When scanning and converting documents however, there are several different storage options such as a DMS or cloud storage. Find tips and insight on finding the ideal document storage and management system for your business here.