If you search the term “document management” online, you’ll be amazed at how many document management solutions there are right now, ranging vastly in price, capabilities and complexity.
While the term is often defined broadly, for the sake of this discussion we’ll define “document management systems” as software solutions that convert paper documents and records to digital files and also provide organizations with processes for storing, retrieving and archiving the files. Document management solutions from vendors like Fujitsu and Lexmark feature advanced-capture software that not only digitizes paper documents but also front-ends some of the automation during the capture process.
The advantages of document management
Since paper files are costly to process, duplicate, distribute and store, digitizing paper archives saves time and reduces operating expenses and overhead. In fact, research by Gartner Group found organizations that implement a document management solution can reduce overall document-related costs by as much as 40%—and substantially improve efficiency.
Document management is particularly valuable in a business world that’s increasingly concerned about data breaches and cybersecurity. It facilitates the backup of files and records for disaster recovery and bolsters the security of files and records to help facilitate compliance with record-keeping requirements imposed by SEC and FINRA, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations.
Helping your customers choose a document management solution
Several publications including Business News Daily and PC Magazine have developed lists of the best document management solutions, and their recommendations differ considerably. But before evaluating which document solution is the right choice, you should assist your customers in conducting a thorough needs assessment of their document imaging functions. Document management needs vary widely by industry, and every organization has its own unique requirements and budgetary parameters.
Still, as a general rule of thumb, any document management solution they select should:
- Be user-friendly:
A user-friendly interface not only assures rapid acceptance by staff members, it reduces the training costs involved in implementation.
- Capture all types of documents: paper, electronic, fax, audio and video:
It should also enable batch processing of documents and forms, which is particularly important for organizations that do a high volume of document processing.
- Make document retrieval fast and easy:
A key objective for any document management solution is to enable employees to search through reams of documents quickly and pinpoint the one they need. That’s why indexing capabilities are so important. Some document management systems allow users to search only by indexed keywords, but that requires knowing how the document was categorized in the first place. The best indexing systems allow you to find any document based on what you know, even if it’s only a word or phrase within the document.
- Give system administrators control over who can view annotations and make edits:
Annotations like highlighting and sticky notes allow users to append or remove information in a document without changing it permanently, and it’s important to maintain policies regulating who’s permitted to make them.
- Be compatible with current storage devices and emerging storage technology:
To address the concern about future readability of stored documents, make sure the document management system uses industry standard formats like TIFF or ASCII.
- Feature a workflow module:
This allows for the routing of documents to appropriate individuals, based on rules created by the system administrator, and helps eliminate bottlenecks and streamline business processes.
- Offer tools to safeguard security:
Only consider those document management solutions that give system administrators tools for authentication, authorization, audit trails and disaster recovery planning. Authorized users should be able to perform their required duties on any device, without compromising the security of the database or network.
- Integrate seamlessly with critical business software:
A document management system designed with open architecture will provide easy integration with a variety of critical business software, including customer relationship management (CRM), electronic medical records (ERM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) applications.
Taking the next step
Your customers have a wealth of document management options to choose from, but giving careful consideration to the above factors will help make the decision a little easier. The bottom line is that they want something that’s easy to use and integrate into their workflow today—and that will accommodate business growth tomorrow.