Before we talk about what your document management should look like, let’s clear away misconceptions about what document management is. Document management software digitizes files, simplifying document storage and access, and providing better ability to leverage data you’re your documents. This is different than software that allows you to attach documents and digital file storage.
For example, if you’re using human resources software, you may have the ability to attach documents to individual employee records. These documents are static images, which offers a way to store the document, yes. But it has some key limitations. First, when you upload the document, you are not able to pull any information off the document – you must manually key it in. To access individual documents requires going into the record and viewing the attachment. Searching for information requires you to visually scan the document. This is not document management; it’s document storage.
For a system to effectively manage your documents, it should offer the following features:
1. Accessibility. One of the most important features of document management systems is the ability to access files when you need to. You should not have to wait for colleagues to finish with the record or wait until you’re using a specific computer.
2. Search capability. You should have the ability to search for files and quickly retrieve them. You should also have the ability to search based on information contained on the document, not just for the document name itself.
3. Software integration. Whether you use specific software for human resources, accounting, client management or anything else, your document management system should be able to work seamlessly within the program. Records should be stored and accessed without having to switch between programs and screens.
4. File flexibility. Storing different types of files is important in many industries. Images of driver’s licenses, audio recordings of customer calls, emails – you should be able to store all of these in their native file formats. Many document add-on features are limited. If you need more than PDFs and JPGs, make sure your system can accommodate that.
5. Import options. You should be able to get files to your document management system without having to print, scan and import individual files. Digital import and capture options let you save digital files directly into records with a couple of clicks, instead of taking these arduous steps. Yet, it is not as common a feature as you’d think.
6. Intelligent scanning. As documents are scanned or captured, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software reads the file and pulls key bits of information from the document that it can input into your software programs. This information can later be searched and used to locate the file.
7. Security. Your documents should be protected by multiple levels of security and compliance. Firewalls and encryption should guard files from outside intrusion, and access audit trails should guard documents from unauthorized access within. It’s not enough to rely on logins and passwords – data is one of the most sought-after assets by thieves.
If your electronic documents are stored in what is functionally little more than an electronic filing cabinet then it’s not serving your best interests. Your documents should be as secure as they are accessible, and your software should be making it easier for you to get the information you need – not more cumbersome.
How does your organization manage documents? Milner Technologies, Inc is a leading provider of document management software and workflow solutions. See how document management can benefit your organization. Schedule a demo.