A document management system (DMS) stores, manages and tracks electronic documents; these include all kinds of documents that have been generated electronically (such as email) along with electronic images generated by scanning paper documents.
Organisations produce large volumes of documents on a daily basis, and the information that they contain is generally the life blood of the enterprise. Documents are created, edited, checked, stored and searched for. This is both time consuming and resource hungry; optimising this system is the primary motivation for incorporating a DMS.
We @ ‘Remote Software Solutions’ provide DMS solutions with Windream suite of enterprise products and our customized in-house products. You may read more on WINDREAM from the link to the right.
Here we make the case for DMS, provide a brief overview of the DMS process, review DMS integration and benefits, consider practical solutions, and finally make some suggestions on how you can make the optimum choice for your organisation.
The case for DMS
In the absence of a DMS, different documents relating to a process such as customer sales will reside in different locations in the organisation. For instance information on the original order may be stored on a local workstation; emails relating to the sale will reside on an email server; the order may be in paper format and stored in a physical file system; and the invoice will reside in the accounting programme. Thus, when dealing with a customer query, it will be necessary to access all of these documents in their different locations. Often the weak link is paper document retrieval which might rely on a co-worker who might not be available at that time. The result is slow response times which are no longer acceptable in the modern world; customers resent being made to wait for information.
A DMS will take all of these disparate documents and store them in a single location so that each worker with appropriate permissions is able to access them all from their own workstation. All documents, both electronic and paper, that relate to a transaction can be searched for using index word or text searches, displayed as an overview, and opened, with the whole process taking only seconds; thus customer queries can be responded to rapidly. The outcome is improved customer service resulting in improved customer loyalty along with a substantial improvement in productivity.
Additional advantages of DMS include improvement in internal workflows. Considering a simple approval process where a number of different functions are required to approve a document: in a paper system a document appears in an inbox; it is processed by a worker and is passed on to the next inbox where it waits until it is processed by the second worker; and so on down the chain with the potential of accumulating a significant delay.
With a DMS the document simply resides in a server where each worker can access it from any workstation or mobile, removing the requirement to pass the document from worker to worker and considerably speeding up the total process. It also removes the possibility of the document going astray as it is always visible and trackable.
Naturally it is necessary for every document to be placed in the DMS file cabinet. Paper documents are scanned and index terms are added either manually and/or automatically extracted from the document. This can be carried out internally, or for large paper archives the process is often outsourced.
Electronic documents, for instance, email, word and excel files, are saved in the DMS file cabinet automatically along with extracted or manually generated indexing terms. Pre-existing electronic documents, for instance CAD files, are simply dragged and dropped into the file cabinet, again with automatically or manually generated index terms.
Integration and other benefits
A DMS can be integrated into any existing infrastructure; it is unnecessary to modify the workflows. The only difference is that they run electronically, faster, and more efficiently.
A DMS also ensures conformity with government regulations regarding the retention and deletion of information as defined by the various information acts, and for middle and large enterprises it is the only realistic way of conforming to e-discovery requirements.
In summary, the benefits of DMS include:
• Central storage of all documents
• All documents can be accesses locally or remotely through the web
• Automatic or semi-automatic document storage
• Rapid search taking only seconds
• Increased workflow efficiency and transparency
• Reduced storage costs
• Improved security
• Conforms with document retention policies
• Rapid disaster recovery by restoring back-up data repository
Document management systems are used extensively in many different kinds of enterprise and organisation; however there are some important differences between them in terms of their flexibility regarding workforce requirements and their underlying design philosophy.
When selecting a solution there is a range of aspects to consider. One of the most important of these is how it integrates with the existing infrastructure. Although worker experience will be changed with a DMS, it is still important to create a familiar environment that will make adopting the system as simple, seamless and painless as possible.
The way the system integrates paper document scanning is an important feature to consider. Flexibility regarding search and retrieval functionality is also important, allowing documents to be searched for in a variety of different ways.
For enterprises and organisations dealing with personal information it is important that the DMS is able to handle deletion retention policies that are required by regulatory bodies and which conform to internal requirements. Backup and restore along with archiving functionality are also important features as are security and disaster recovery.
While many organisations maintain internal DMS, progressively more medium to large enterprises are moving to cloud based solutions or hybrid solutions in which part of the system is based in the cloud while part remains on premise. The many benefits of cloud based solutions include reducing the need for hardware investment, freeing up IT resources and increased scalability.
Making the right choice
Choosing the right DMS for your organisation can be a significant challenge, and it is important to get it right first time. There are significant differences between them and it is important to understand how these will impact with your organisation.
We are happy to discuss your DMS requirements with you and to assist you in your selection and implementation process.
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