What is Document Management?

What is Document Management? Obviously these words have been thrown around for decades. Document Management does not mean "paperless office." A paperless office is almost impossible to achieve for most companies. After all, vendors mail invoices and they send faxes, and these documents must be managed. This is what document management is all about. Document management is all about trying to take modern scanning and filing technology and applying our standard business practices into this model.


What do people think when asked what "document management" is all about?   Some will think document management is simply scanning documents.  Others will talk about more robust solutions which can cost $50,000 or more.  We would like to propose that any worthwhile document management system will have 4 components.


  • Capture - Capture in Document Management is basically how does the piece of paper in your hang get turned into an electronic file.Ultimately, there are pieces of paper which are the results of human labor, and you need to make these electonic files accessible to the whole organization.
  • Index - If every file is exactly uniform, then maybe you can use zonal OCR or a barcode system. Most people have pieces of rogue papers coming in from all over and someone has to input some kind of data about the piece of paper they are scanning. Maybe they tie it to an invoice number or a customer number. It needs some kind of tag.
  • Store - Is the document going to be hosted onsite or offsite?  Where is the file located?  It is similar to the physical location for a filing cabinet.  How do we find the files in our document management system?
  • Retrieve - Are you going to look at an image on the screen, print the file, or share the file out? Somehow the users need to be able to find the document that is being scanned into the document management system.

No matter what your industry or size, gaining control of all documents is critical to every organization. Ever-expanding government regulations require effective and auditable control systems for all documents and communications—both paper and electronic. Competitive pressures require that organizations become more efficient and responsive in order to survive and thrive.

As the volume of documents within your organization explodes, managing these documents can be a real and pressing challenge. If your organization is like many others, paper documents, emails, faxes, PDFs, CAD and other office documents are left unmanaged and stored in filing cabinets, on file servers or on desktop PCs around the office. This exposes your organization to compliance risks, service delays, cost overruns and a host of other challenges. However, you don’t have to grapple with old-fashioned paperstorage systems or deal with electronic files scattered all over the place to manage your documents. Today, software solutions are available that combine document and records management capabilities into a single, complete offering. These solutions enable you to reduce the time, cost and complexity of storing and accessing your documents throughout the information lifecycle. They also give you the power to improve access to critical documents, enhance customer service and operational efficiency—all while reducing risks and addressing compliance demands.


Do You Need A Document Management Solution?

According to the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), the international authority on enterprise content management, unstructured information typically represents 80 percent of the overall documentation and information that surrounds a business process. For even small and medium size organizations this is a staggering amount of data, making it essential yet challenging to manage and control.


What’s driving organizations such as yours to better manage and control unstructured information? According to AIIM, the biggest drivers are associated with costs, users and risks. If your organization can identify with these business drivers, then it’s likely that you can benefit from a document management solution. This should be thought of strategically from both an offensive and defensive perspective. From an offensive perspective, to remain competitive and efficient you should have a document management solution to optimize business performance. From a defensive perspective, to address compliance and mitigate other business risks you definitely should incorporate a document management solution into your strategy.


 Why is Document Management important?

Did you know that many companies do a better job managing and securing their office supplies than they do their business-critical documents? It’s true. The electronic documents that are the very lifeblood of the modern business are all too often taken totally for granted. Very few businesses take the time to consider the expenses that they incur on a daily basis because of:

  • Time and effort wasted in locating documents. Recent research has indicated that nearly 10% of an average office worker’s day is spent trying to locate existing information and documents.
  • Redundant effort necessitated because it’s often easier to recreate something than it would be to try to find it.
  • Time and effort involved in figuring out who has the latest version of a document, and recovering when various revisions overwrite each other.
  • Unnecessary usage of network storage devices and network bandwidth, because the documents are dispersed everywhere across the enterprise, rather than centralized.

Likewise, few businesses take the time to consider the considerable risks that they expose themselves to on a daily basis because:

  • Security is applied haphazardly at best, which exposes important information to scrutiny by potentially inappropriate people.
  • Critical documents are stored often exclusively on laptop computers that could be lost, stolen, or damaged at any time.
  • Documents stored centrally on Windows network drives, once deleted, do not go into a recycle bin as commonly believed. They simply disappear, and must be restored slowly from backups (if you’re lucky enough to have those).
  • No record exists of precisely who has viewed and/or edited a document. It’s therefore impossible to audit a business process to uncover mistakes or inefficiencies.



If you are still not sure if you need a document management solution, answer these simple questions :

  • Are the costs of managing and storing paper-based documents rising?
  • Do you store customer and vendor communications in paper-based files or on PC hard disks?
  • Do you need to quickly access and exchange document-based information with customers, suppliers, governmental agencies and partners?
  • Are you impacted by government regulations which require strict government control?
  • Do you need secure access to business records for potential litigation or business continuity purposes?
  • Could your organization better leverage existing IT resources to improve operational efficiency and employee productivity?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, chances are you need a document management solution.
Here are some things to consider when deciding what features you need in a document management system:

  • What type(s) of documents will be stored in the document management system?
  • How many users will need access to the documents?
  • How often do the users have to access the documents?
  • What information will the user need to be able to find the right documents?

Do the users ever have to search through long documents for specific information?

  • Will all the users be located at the same location or on the same wide are network?
  • What computer operating systems will the users have?
  • Will the users always have the required software to open the files on their computer?
  • How sensitive are the documents?
  • Are the documents subject to any regulatory security or retention mandates from HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, FRCP, etc.?
  • Are there any document approval or distribution processes that could be automated with workflow?
  • Do you just need to be able to store your documents in a way that you can find them when you need them, and you don't care about security, workflow, websites or any other fancy bells and whistles and don't want to spend a lot of money?

“REMEMBER,” Manage your business, not your paper” 

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