A document management system is a program used to store and share documents within a business. The ease of access it creates for modern operations is unmatched. It’s like building a library on the head of a pin.
This business process provides a central location for paperless document storage, files, weblinks, reports, and other types of rich media. It makes paper documents a thing of the past and drives dynamic content management.
What is Electronic Document Management?
An electronic document management system (EDMS) scans paperwork and creates digital documents that can be stored, archived, revised, shared, etc. It decreases error and ensures a formidable audit trail. The lifecycle of a document is infinite in a digital space. Paperwork has a lifespan. EDMS systems include the following features:
An EDMS has the ability to accept and process images using scanners with optical character recognition (OCR). Whether integrated or as stand-alone software, it converts digital images into readable text (usually a PDF).
The data center should also enable easy retrieval of PDF files. Simple retrieval is done with unique document identifiers and basic indexing. This provides classification through the document’s metadata. A tag can contain information like:
- Company name
- Purchase order
- Dollar amount
- Specific identifying data
Of course, the metadata will depend on the type of document you scan, but going digital is the key solution for present-day records management.
An EDMS can store documents like an efilecabinet—minus the work. The file storage includes management, how they are stored, the length of time, version history, and migration from one storage media to another. It includes the eventual destruction of documents as well.
Data validation rules can check electronic files for missing signatures, document failures, misspelled names, and other issues. The system will recommend real-time correction options prior to importing the data.
Functionality with other applications is also a plus for a document management platform. This allows users to retrieve files directly from the repository, share them, and save them to integrated platforms. It facilitates document workflow and streamlines operations. Platforms like Salesforce and ecommerce sites like Amazon all benefit greatly from cloud document management.
It’s important for an EDMS to offer document sharing. In a document management system, the file must be in a format that can be easily altered. A master copy is never used for distribution. Rather, an electronic link to the document is a more popular route. Versioning is when a document is saved multiple times in history so users can work from a selected point.
This is when the system allows a document to be retrieved and used by individuals with the right permissions. Access to important documents should be blocked while work is being performed. Other platforms encourage people to utilize the same documents in real-time and work in a collaborative environment.
In a document management solution, security is critical. Certain documents have compliance requirements, like the Food and Drug Administration. In the United States, Standards like ISO 9001 and ISO 13485 can greatly dictate the document control process.
Small businesses benefit from a built-in workflow module that integrates with workflow management tools. Rules-based workflow allows you to automate the path of a document and dictate where it ends up.
Other features include things like hardcopy reproduction and federated search.
There are many different types of electronic document management systems. However, not all products are the same. Each system is designed for niche functions and business environments. Some programs are developed to be used on-premise and are installed through an organization’s servers.
The most effective platforms are created with cloud solutions in mind.
Cloud Document Management System
Document management in the cloud is a whole different animal than just automated paperwork. It’s SaaS that makes file sharing a snap. Cloud technology is an ideal environment for mobile devices and document control. It allows users to access, track, manage, and edit stored document data. You can even integrate other mobile apps (iOS or Android).
Cloud-based document management software allows for more rational use of resources. Paper documents are scanned and stored as file formats in a database accessible anywhere. It’s a virtual filing cabinet. Cloud services enable that data to hang around interminably until needed again.
These programs minimize situations where archived documents are duplicated or unnecessary copies made. Cloud document management software can have a strong impact on employee productivity and peace of mind. Users can operate from home all over the world and share the same document during the workday.
How to Implement Cloud-Based Document Management
Implementing a cloud-based management tool is a simple process but requires careful planning. Moving digital files can be meticulous. These systems are a little bit different than SharePoint, Microsoft Office, Dropbox, or Google Drive. They’re developed for more complex management.
This is typically done by category. Analysis of each category includes:
- Name and code (unique identifier)
- Metadata that (data fields) should be used or extracted from documents in each category
- Document workflow process
- Who is involved? Internal (users) and external (customers, vendors, etc…)
- Templates, models, and communications that can be automated
- Which techniques are worth using for this category? (Like a digital signature, version control, etc…)
- Permissions and security for this type of file in the corresponding folders
The first step for the implementation of a document management system involves the digitalization of the paper files. During the initial setup, this is a hard process if you have a ton of paperwork. Once everything is in the system, however, it’s as easy to find something as opening a web browser.
Cloud Storage and Large Files
All of the data is stored in a central location with a series of metadata. It also includes an electronic signature to guarantee authorship. In the past, this was done using high-volume hard disks. Thanks to the advancement in tech and broadband, now the most popular choice is cloud storage.