The alternative to a paper-fueled society is to go digital. Every industry, role, task, project, job, etc. can benefit from virtual management.
It’s simply the next step in how humans structure business. This is particularly effective with high-volume enterprise content management. The bigger the brand, the bigger the paper trail.
Subsequently, you need a document management solution that can capture documents, extract data, and help accelerate business.
What is an Electronic Document Management System?
An electronic document management system (EDMS) is a tool used to organize and store different types of documents. Think of it as a digitized filing cabinet—yet it can do much more. It’s a platform that provides a central repository to securely store documents with sufficient search and retrieval capabilities.
An EDMS is similar to a content management system (CMS) which involves handling a variety of web content for a particular site. In order to properly store files, many document management systems use metadata. This information provides key details about the electronic files to help those searching find what they need. A user can search by:
- Order number
- Other associative strategies
In many cases, this searchability aspect is what makes an electronic document management system so valuable to a business. The ability to instantly recall an important file is critical to streamlining business processes and workflow automation.
How Does a Document Management System Work?
Document capture software works in three simple steps. It captures documents, stores the data, and distributes the information accordingly.
This capture process involves the digitization of data entry. It gives you the ability to save documents to be referenced later as digital files (usually in a PDF file format).
Data extraction happens through optical character recognition (OCR). OCR technology uses high-speed scanners to capture and file the new document accordingly. It reads the characters and maps them in the system.
Data capture involves a method known as indexing, which is simply an easy way to classify a document in the program. Terms can be added to the metadata for easier recognition like:
- Purchase order number
- Company name
- Barcode data
- Dollar amount
Anything that helps a business identify the file later on. Indexing can be done manually in the system, through enterprise resource planning (ERP) screen integration, or barcode recognition. After document scanning, the file is saved as a searchable PDF in the system. It’s a lot easier to find than sorting through a clunky file cabinet for a paper document.
In addition to paper, document management software can track applications and system-generated reports from your ERP.
After the document scanners are through, the file needs a place to go. An EDMS gives your entire team the ability to manage documents from anywhere, at any time. Everything has central access. This makes it an ideal solution for mobile management.
The most effective type of storage for document scanning software is cloud-based. Not only does this give you unlimited flexibility, but it’s also incredibly secure. Storage can be used for both static and dynamic content. That means the documents you use every day (like invoices and purchase orders) as well as those used on occasion (like forms and webpages).
Retrieval and Distribution
Document capture solutions need a means of finding and sharing the document effectively. Retrieval should be quick and easy or else the point is mute. When a customer calls in with a questions or a vendor needs an invoice, employees should be able to provide that instantly. This allows customer service reps to answer questions in seconds, which streamlines the whole process.
Distribution can be automated through capture software solutions. You just need to set it up properly. Then, when an invoice is received, the fields can automatically be mapped and the file stored appropriately. This is where a business can also assign automated marketing campaigns. Once an email is received, the system can trigger a campaign depending on how workflows are structured.
Key Advantages of Document Capture
Advanced document management should vastly improve the way things run in your business. Some of the key benefits to document imaging and capture include:
- Meeting the increasing demands of a mobile workforce.
- Save time across the entire lifecycle of document capture, storage, and retrieval.
- Increased security from having a centralized repository of documents.
- Less room for error. Paper documents can be easily lost or misplaced.
- Automated workflows for digital marketing and ERP management.
- Room for growth. Digital space can be as small as the head of a pin.
Document capture software also gives you better version control of a document. It has built-in version control so you can go back in time to better understand changes that have been made. The system will automatically version documents to ensure that full history is available.
These types of business applications also help to facilitate collaboration. There’s no more leaving a folder on someone’s desk. When everything is digitized, the approval process moves along as smoothly as an email. Web-based environments and workflows allow for easier sharing, both internally and externally.
Top Tools for Document Capture
There are many benefits of a document capture software program. In addition to document capture and storage, look for a platform that offers the following features:
- Full text search: Use keywords to search for a specific type of document.
- Permissions: Manage different levels of access to important files.
- Collaboration: The ability to share internally, externally, and with certain groups.
- Document archive: Create a central repository to store archived data for future reference.
The best document capture software will allow an organization to integrate with other key business systems. This includes software applications for accounting, human resources, marketing, and customer relationship management (CRM).
Document capture is important for many reasons. In a growing socially-conscious workforce, it saves trees. It also boosts morale. Document management technology gives people more time to do work that inspires, while the machines take care of boring tasks. It creates an innovative company culture that drives business growth, builds relationships, and strengthens the community.