Do I Need a Document Management System?
6 min read
If you are in charge of a company or a department like accounting (perhaps you are the CFO), then you have probably heard of or been proposed something called “Document Management” by one of your vendors. If you are wondering if you need document management, this article is for you.
We have been selling copiers, Managed IT and document management systems for decades now, so we can help you determine if document management will be right for you.
What Is Document Management?
There really are a few key parts of document management, so let’s tackle them one at a time.
The first part of a valid Document Management System (DMS) is that you have a repository where documents are stored. This repository is a platform where you are able to connect to the standard platforms you are using today, like the Microsoft suite of products, pdf documents, graphics done in marketing, or human resources documents, and centralize the documents and data with permissions to ensure the documents are available when they are needed.
The storage in a DMS is quite different than Google Docs or Dropbox. There is more sophistication in how documents are stored. This generally requires an extra step called “tagging” which helps to organize the data.
For example, let’s say you want to have your invoices easily searchable by the sales team without them having access to the accounting system. The invoices can be dropped into the DMS and tagged with details like who the supplier was, what the invoice number was, invoice date, items on the invoice, sales rep, the contract attached to that invoice, etc.
So, let’s say there comes a time when you need the next phase. It is far easier than Dropbox or Google Docs.
Getting the documents back is really where the beauty of a well-designed DMS lies. Let’s say you are an accountant, and you have a client who buys rental properties for income. Maybe you have a code for this in tax law to help make sure you get the appropriate tax breaks for your client. Now a new IRS rule is coming out and changes how some of this income is treated.
If you have tagged the document as rental income, or there is a standard line on IRS forms, you can quickly enter those in and know all the clients you need to inform of this change.
Maybe you are a manufacturer. There are different suppliers that help get the product out the door. It turns out you use five different suppliers for the same widget based on pricing and availability. Supplier #2 calls and says their widget is defective. How will you find all your clients who bought a product, and know that the supplier’s widget is in them (so you don’t freak out all your clients.)
These would be some standard use cases for a quality document management system.
The job of document management software is to help you store and retrieve the data and files you need with as little human intervention as possible. Using workflow rules helps your team skip steps and still have all of the needed data, because retrieval has become automated.
Another workflow example could be when someone in the company gets an invoice, and that invoice needs to be approved by a manager. Once approved, it goes to Accounts Payables (AP) to cut a check. When a person gets an invoice, they can tag the document and put it into the AP workflow, which would automatically trigger it being sent to the manager to approve. When they approved it, it would automatically go to AP to cut the check. Not 20 emails back and forth looking for status.
Turning Paper Documents into Electronic Documents
One of the great things a DMS will do is help you easily convert all the paper documents in your office and make them electronic. This means trading all the filing cabinets and the space they take for a cloud-based file system for your company. This makes all your important documents securely available anywhere in the world.
What if you only have a contract as a paper document, and a sales rep takes the contract out of the filing cabinet to look at what the contract was, so they can do a new proposal? Now one copy is on the sales rep desk, and let’s say they lose the document. Now what happens? When you have solid content management, then the documents are accessed electronically, meaning they never get lost.
Document capture has become a large part of what any DMS platform needs to work through. This becomes a process map to show where the paper documents should go and who should be able to access them.
One of the important parts of a DMS deployment is who has access to the electronic documents. Allowing the right people to have access to business documents they need to be able to do their jobs is critical. File sharing or access rules have become critical. For example, maybe you don’t want all your sales reps to have access to accounting data, but you do want the sales manager to see these electronic documents. With the right DMS, you can set these kinds of rules.
One key feature, especially with legal documents, is document versions being controlled. Let’s say three attorneys are working on the same matter, and it happened all three decided to do the work on the same day. Each downloads a contract, spends half the day writing revisions and saves it. Now, another attorney was doing the same thing. They go to save it and when they do it under the old system, it would overwrite the first attorney’s work, and no one would know.
When you use document versions along with a check-in and check-out feature, you eliminate these issues. Now attorney one checks out the document, and when attorney two tries to access it, it says, “attorney one has this document; please have them check the document back in to be able to download the latest version.” This protects the firm from having legal documents going out with missing language.
The same thing could happen in a marketing company, where the copywriter could grab and edit a file at the same time a graphic designer does. Long story short, document management improves collaboration.
Many Suppliers of Enterprise Content Management Software
In the market today, there are different enterprise content management (ECM) and DMS providers you should consider. Our major suppliers are Square 9 and Microsoft. We believe this to be the easiest and best in the market, which is why we sell their solutions.
Here are some of the industry leaders in ECM:
- Microsoft Sharepoint
- Square 9
Half of getting these working and installed correctly is assuring you have a partner who has gone down the road of ECM deployment and who can help you define your goals and what system works the best for your goals. For most companies, this will not be Google Drive, nor will it be Dropbox. It will need to be more sophisticated than basically shared folders on your network, but in the cloud.
Benefits of a Document Management Software Platform:
- Quickly find documents
- Increase efficiency in the back office
- Access files anywhere for all key users
- Improve sustainability as you print less
Decrease Liabilities with Document Management
- Save time and money (cost of labor) retrieving documents
- Comply with governmental regulations about access and document control
- Reduce your potential for expensive litigation
- Decrease print costs, storage fees for boxes of paper
We would love to help you get a document management solution for your company. Give us a call so we can work through the process of mapping out your workflow, seeing your content file types, looking at your scan accessibility, and talking to the key stakeholders within your company, as this can feel like a big shift for most companies. If leadership is not on board, it generally won’t work.