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What is a Document Management System and When Do You Need One?

by K Logan | Oct 19, 2016

What is a document management systemInformation is your organization's greatest asset. Yet, despite technological advancements, 90% of corporate information is stored in unstructured formats like paper documents, shared hard disks and filing cabinets.

Files are often stored in large storage rooms filled with records that date back decades. Papers go missing or are difficult to locate because they were not returned to the right spot. As a result, staff wastes a great deal of time just trying to track down documents. Plus, more organizations face frequent audits and strict regulatory requirements for maintaining records, and they’re quickly realizing that managing their files on paper is not a sustainable practice.

Document Management Systems, or Document Management Software, is often a cost-effective way to convert paper files to an electronic format and then store, manage and retrieve those files. For it to truly be a document management system, it needs to be independent of other applications.  For instance, your HR software might allow you to attach documents, but this is not a document management system.

These solutions might simply be a way to store paper files electronically, or, for a more robust system, it does a lot more.

Some document management systems allow you to securely store more types of files, and offer a broader range of features that harnesses the power of the data stored in those files. They let you search for specific text-based data, collaborate, and freely share information contained in paper files, images, phone call recordings, microfiche, x-rays and files stored on outdated media.

Regardless of the kind of document management you use, digital documents are safe and protected from decay and other environmental dangers, like mold or errant sprinkler systems, and are easier to maintain for mandatory retention periods.  Access to information is immediate and staff can stop wasting precious time digging through paper files. 

 

With feature-rich document management systems, you also get these benefits:

Better access to files. A digital file is readily accessible 24/7. Documents are retrieved in seconds, not minutes, and cannot be misplaced, so they’re easier to find. There is also an audit trail so you can monitor who accesses files.

Coordinate and collaborate. Departments can more effectively coordinate with one another and ensure documentation is obtained and managed effectively. This makes processes much smoother.
Full audit readiness
. Audits are common across many industries and organizations. Document management systems allow you to more efficiently respond to and comply with audit and reporting requirements, while mitigating your risk of noncompliance.

Improvements in processes. The ability to integrate with software allows you to create more comprehensive and easier methods of managing your routine processes, like new employee onboarding, new patient processing, accounts payable and work order fulfillment.
Ensure required documents are on file
. Some options include features to alert you about missing required paperwork or upcoming renewal dates. These are typically included as a workflow component.

Many businesses are shifting away from paper files because of the inherent risks they present and because they know there are more efficient ways of doing business. A document management system can be help clean up files, secure information and make your organization more agile with its information. With easier access and more administrative control, a document management system can create enormous boosts in productivity and efficiency, freeing up staff for more important tasks.


Want to see a document management system in action? Contact us for a free demo webinar