What is so Clever about a Document Management System?

As we enter another COVID-19 lockdown, once again restrictions have been tightened around business, with the very clear message that employees should be working from home unless it is impossible to do so.

Needs Must

Organisations have already shown great resilience in adapting to the new work order and all indications are that this new flexible working is here to stay beyond the current health crisis and moreover, is likely to be a major consideration for potential future employees looking for a healthier work/life balance, without the stress of the daily commute.

So now we are seemingly in for the long-haul, is it time to look more closely at the ways you are managing your information, from both a security and efficiency perspective.

The Information Dilemma

In March 2020, when the Country was first plunged into an enforced lockdown, businesses had to quickly pull together an infrastructure which allowed their employees to work away from the office.

This they were often able to do using a system of network shared files, however this was far from perfect as it didn’t provide access to much of the filing members of staff required to carry out their day-to-day tasks and was often unsecure.

As the months have passed companies are now looking more closely at those systems hurriedly implemented at the beginning of the crisis and how they shape up for the long-term.

They are now realising that whilst they in part solved the initial dilemma of allowing employees crucial access to certain information away from the office, they have significant flaws in moving forward in an efficient, secure and compliant manner.

Some businesses have historically looked at employing a dedicated document management system and perhaps this has again come to the fore in your business as a result of COVID, but what is really the difference between this and a system of shared folders which have perhaps served you well in recent months? 

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So, what of the future

In this article, we look to explain something of the differences and more importantly the benefits of working with an electronic document management solution, as opposed to a system of shared folders, which may persuade you that now is the time to make that investment.

  1. A Single Depository to which you Control Access

The current enforced working arrangements have demonstrated that perhaps even worse than having a single copy of a document held within a filing cabinet in the office, is having it exposed to numerous folders and platforms outside of your company’s control.

The order to “work from home” has resulted in a multitude of shared and private folders being set up by employees attempting valiantly to work away from the office.

This, whilst worthy, has led to the opportunity for sensitive information being stored, accessed and transmitted via devices that are outside of the company’s control and potentially insecure, not to say non-compliant with current regulation.

Document management systems are able to alleviate these issues in the following ways:

  • Secure Access Control This simply means that you have total control as to who has access to your data, which aspects of it and in turn what they can do with it, from read only, to full administrative rights.

By using a document management system, you need have no concerns that your important and sensitive information is always totally secure to only those you have specifically assigned rights to access it.

  • Individual File Management Document management solutions allow you to control access down to individual file level within the permission structure.

This benefit means that any individual may have full admin access to certain documents but no access at all to others or just the ability to view them. This ensures that only your chosen employees can access your information.

  • Controlled Access from any device with home working becoming more prevalent and likely to remain so, a document management system may be accessed (assuming permission is granted) on any device from any location.

This allows your employees the same access to the information and processes which they would have if they were in the office, albeit with potentially greater security. 

  1. Easy Filing

The true cost of filling paper documents is often hidden; however, a number of surveys clearly imply that this cost is not insignificant to business.

A recent study conducted by Gartner, the respected Global research and advisory firm, concluded the following:

  • It costs companies an average of £16 to file a paper document (including salaries, labour, materials and storage)
  • It takes on average 18 minutes to find a document
  • Finding a misfiled document costs business an average of £90
  • The cost of replacing a lost document is estimated at £165
  • Up to 20% of documents are misfiled.
  • Employees can spend as much as 50% of their time searching for information

 

A document management system can entirely take away the pain and error of filing in the following ways:

  • Full Text Search. Document management systems automatically and fully OCR (Optical Character Recognition) files at the point of storage.

This benefit really sets electronic document management apart from paper filing. It enables the user to search for a particular word or phrase within a single document or across a whole range of them.

To replicate this with paper files would potentially take hours or even days but can be achieved instantly by moving to electronic working.

  • Automatic indexing and storing of documents. As we have discovered, one of the most common reasons documents are misfiled is they are simply badly indexed or just saved to the wrong location. This is invariably as a result of basic human error; however, the result of which that they can take time to relocate or worse be lost for good.

A document management system automatically recognises your files, captures key information from them and stores them away safely for future reference and retrieval.

This removes any potential for inaccuracies and ensures files are stored in such a way as others can easily find them. 

For example, in the case of an incoming supplier invoice, the system will automatically capture, for instance, the supplier name, invoice number and amount due and store the document away to be retrieved via any of these characteristics. No labour costs……..and no mistakes.

  • Making Index Fields Mandatory. An Individuals interpretation of a files index is possibly the single biggest reason for wrongful filing, leading to loss and delay.

How we might describe a file can be determined by a number of things, time of day or week, the pressure we are under or indeed our general mood. As this can change, interpretation may change and have the knock-on effect of making files difficult, if not impossible to retrieve subsequently even for ourselves, let alone others.

A document management system allows you to predetermine index fields via drop down lists to both speed up the process and to guarantee uniformity, so crucial to a speedy and accurate future search.

  1. Automating Manual Processes

When it comes to the benefits of electronic document management against traditional paper driven processes or even a static folder based electronic filing, this is without doubt the big one.

Document management systems are just that, they MANAGE documents, but far more than that, they can manage and drive what we do with them.

Most of us will be familiar with pushing paper around a business, waiting for a response or signature, all of which can lead to error, delay and frustration, not to mention unhappy customers and suppliers.

Document management systems are able to rid your business of ALL of these issues very efficiently by:

  • Automating Purchase Ledger processes. Once invoices are either scanned or dropped into a document management system, they are automatically indexed to capture all relevant detail from Supplier Name/Code and Invoice Number to Date and Amount.

These invoices, either in whole or by line are then automatically forwarded to the appropriate authority within your business automatically for either authorisation or other required action. This may be done via any device and from anywhere.

  • Automating Human Resources.

Most people employed within HR would agree that many of the processes necessary within their departments can be both cumbersome and time consuming. To add to the workload, over recent years legislation has become much tighter governing the way sensitive employee information is cared for.

A document management system within an HR department can easily remove much of this workload and all of the guesswork around routine functions, for example:

  • New Employee On-boarding including electronic applications, CV management and routing, notifications, assessment and training programmes.
  • Mass Filing Personalised notifications can be installed on multiple employee records at the touch of a button
  • File Administration Automated notifications such as lapsed disciplinary periods, pay reviews and probation periods can be generated to ensure employee records are routinely kept up to date and are compliant.
 
  1. Linking your Systems Together

It is highly likely you currently operate a range of different software platforms, both departmentally and across the business.

Whilst in themselves these are important and contain valuable information, they often don’t communicate with each other meaning processes can become more cumbersome.

Document management systems have the ability to fully integrate your existing systems together, delivering the following benefits:

  • Information Sharing Data shared in one location can be combined and shared with that in another.

For instance, within your accounts department data regarding a transaction may be stored in both your finance and purchase order software. A document management system is able to interrogate this information and utilise it both for the purpose of accurate filing but also in generating an automated workflow process.

  • Single Point Access Filing may be accessed from many applications.

Because a document management system effectively throws a net over your existing applications, so filing can be shared between these seamlessly.

For instance, you are working in your finance system, through smart button technology, it is possible to call up the document you are working on without having to exit the current application.

Whilst it is the document management system working in the background which delivers the file image, the user will simply be aware of an increased functionality from their familiar software, seamlessly.

  1. Information Security & Compliance

One of the main concerns surrounding the use of shared folders is one of security. How do you control who has access, what they can view and more importantly can files be moved or worse still, copied to other applications?

Certain sensitive information, such as employee records, are increasingly subject to compliance regulation and it has never been more important to ensure you are able to clearly demonstrate compliance.

A document management system can ensure your security and compliance in the following ways:

  • A central secure depository for all of your company’s information
  • Strict administrative access control (to individual document level)
  • Full track and trace audit of all activity
  • Full disaster recovery backup

We hope that this guide has managed to help you in understanding how an electronic document management system can greatly assist your business in delivering a very safe and intuitive means through which you can successfully manage both your critical data and those processes surrounding it.

If you have questions, or would like to arrange a free, no obligation demonstration, why not get in touch with BPMS and let one of our experts help you in delivering a solution to allow you to succeed in the new world of working both efficiently and compliantly.