So everyone is talking about document management huh? The benefits, the costs, maybe even companies that provide document management solutions, but if you’re still searching for a definition of document management, you happen to have found yourself in the right place.
“What is document management?” was one of my first questions when I was introduced to the document management industry as the term itself is somewhat evasive. I quickly realized I wasn’t the only person wondering and some research later, this was written.
Document Management, also referred to as Document Management Systems (DMS) or Records Management, encompasses the processes of handling documents in a way that enables them to be created, shared, organized, stored and retrieved efficiently and effectively.
An example that illustrates a basic form of document management is a file cabinet. Organized alphabetically or numerically by drawer, and then organized again by file, inside each drawer. Then, let’s say that every time a file is taken out of a drawer it must be initialed by whoever takes it, as a tracking method. This system (just like its definition) enables documents to be created, shared organized, stored and retrieved, hopefully efficiently and effectively.
This type of document management can work well, but for most organizations it could be greatly improved through the use of a newer type of document management, Electronic Documents Management Systems.
Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) utilize a computer system and software to manage electronic documents. These electronic documents are the paper documents from that file cabinet, which through document conversion, have been scanned using a document scanner, and became digitized so they are now documents on a computer. These electronic documents can be stored on either an organizations server or a cloud-based server that is managed off-site. They can be created, shared, organized, stored and retrieved efficiently and effectively, just like basic document management, but eliminating paper cuts, and a few other things too.
Electronic Documents Management Systems also eliminate the walks back and forth to the file cabinet, the search for a specific document, signing it out, and the risk of documents going missing, being misfiled as well as losing documents to fire or water damage or theft.
Some elements an EDMS has to offer an organization include instant access to documents using structural data searches by keyword and full text from any computer. It allows the workflow of paper processed to be tracked and replicated electronically, while improving and streamlining document workflow processes, therefore maximizing time and cost savings.
Electronic Document Management Systems also have search and retrieval, as well as retention capabilities and are easily integrated with other office applications such as Microsoft Office Suite and SharePoint. Also offered is security by user, document and folder, check in/check out tracking system, read-only outputs and redaction. And, unlike paper documents, digital documents are safe from fire or water damage and break-ins and they are automatically backed up at offsite locations meaning all data can be recovered in the event of a disaster.
Document management allows companies to streamline information and easily control documents. So whether you are just curious about document management, looking for a new document management system or looking for an electronic document management system, I’ll leave you with this concluding thought, document management is only as important as an organizations most important document.
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