Go Green with Document Management

Why Your Business Needs Document Management

Posted by Diane Mitol on Apr 22, 2015 3:50:19 PM

Why Your Business Needs Document Management

“Paper, typewriter, copier, pen, wire trays, dictating machines, and battered old filing cabinets are reliable, proven methods of running an office in a way that people can understand.“ New Scientist, March 27, 1980.1980s_office

“More than a decade into the 21st century, one would think we would be closer to the ‘paperless society’… Yet just last month, news surfaced that the Department of Veterans Affairs Office in North Carolina was literally collapsing from the paperwork stored on site.” Forbes, April 19, 2013

It’s been more than 30 years since the New Scientist, in an article about the then cutting-edge technology of “word processors” declared that, “Paper…and…filing cabinets {were} reliable proven methods of running an office…”, yet as recently as two years ago, a major U.S. government agency was reported in Forbes to be “…literally collapsing from the paperwork stored on site.”

Clearly, paper is no longer such a reliable method.

In fact, today’s offices, with the vast numbers of documents and the various ways in which they’re stored – in file cabinets, on networks, on individual PC hard drives, CDs, mobile devices, thumb drives, and sometimes in desk drawers or an employee’s home office -- may actually be less organized and less efficient than the old “proven” methods of a fully paper office. 

Yet, not many of us are ready to pull out the typewriter and carbon paper and go back to the office of 30 years ago.   

Comprehensive Document Management

This is why today’s businesses need a comprehensive document management system – one that is able to encompass the many different types of documents generated today and the many different forms they take – from incoming snail mail to outgoing email and everything in between, whether paper or electronic. 

An effective document management system helps businesses minimize the dominance of internal paper by maximizing the efficiency of electronic documents, while establishing a formal process for managing and converting unavoidable incoming paper.  The best way to go “paperless” is by acknowledging that some paper is inevitable and planning for it as part of the overall document management strategy.   

Outside Advice

Often, it is advisable for a business to make use of an outside consultant who is skilled in document management to review the current internal processes, both paper-based and electronic-based, and make recommendations based on proven best-practices for your business.  This approach can save both time and money by providing a logical starting place for document conversion and workflow improvement. 

For some organizations, like the Veterans Affairs Office referred to in the Forbes quote, the starting place may be the immediate scanning, indexing and conversion of the paper documents that threaten to collapse existing processes. 

For other organizations that have a reasonably good paper workflow in place, and a relatively organized filing system, the starting place may be to mimic the paper workflow in a more efficient digital way.  This usually means starting with documents that are already in digital format, followed by scanning and incorporating older archived paper files. 

Still other businesses may have digital files on old mainframe systems that are incompatible with today’s computer technologies, overwhelming their current information management system.   Enterprise document management systems can make information retrieval more efficient, improve record control, and reduce costs. 

Bottom Line

Regardless of where your business falls in this spectrum, the right document management system can provide you with an organizational method and technology-based means of storing documents in a single electronic storage area (repository) that simplifies managing and retrieving the files.  Some systems may be customized for specific corporate needs; some may have modular components that let you buy what you need; some may be Cloud/SaaS systems that eliminate capital expenditures and IT maintenance, while allowing your business to scale up or down quickly, as your needs change.

Every business needs some form of document management.  Today’s competitive landscape requires far more than the 30 year old “reliable” paper office described in the New Scientist and far better than “collapsing from the paperwork,” described by Forbes.   Join us for an upcoming webinar How to Determine if EDM is Worth the Cost to learn more and download our white paper below.

Free White Paper Document Management Work Book


Topics: Document Management

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