A DMS can provide a great way to streamline your business processes, make information more accessible and improve how your teams work together. Drew, our latest recruit takes a look at some of the benefits and how using one could grow your business.
What is an Electronic Document Management System?
An EDMS (Electronic Document Management System) is a software solution that allows you to manage, store, retrieve and track documents electronically. A central hub of information offering features that could help streamline workflows, saving your business time and money.
Storage - an EDMS can help in storing all your Documents and information in one place, with most applications deployable on-premises, cloud-based or in a hybrid environment. Cloud-based systems are great for collaboration between users, saving on storage space and making your data readily available across platforms. You may have requirements to archive documents for a certain retention period, based on the information they hold. Having these electronically available can be of great benefit, saving paper and time to find records quickly.
Retrieval – EDMS documents are tagged and indexed with defined metadata, allowing you to organise documents and records based on your specific business needs. Choosing a system with full-text search capability, and defining your metadata intelligently greatly helps in making your documents readily available quickly.
You may have requirements to archive documents for a certain retention period, based on the information they hold. An EDMS makes these files available at a few clicks electronically, without the need to hold paper copies. This saves time and space.
Document lifecycles and workflows – An EDMS is a great way to securely control the creation, review, approval and distribution of documents. It can help you track processes and manage workflows easily, ensuring the correct users have carried out specific tasks such as approval of documents. Systems can be integrated with local programs, allowing users to receive email notifications about tasks or updates to the documentation.
End User – When using an EDMS to work on live documentation, you have the benefits of version control, ensuring users are working on the latest rendition of a document, changes are tracked, and all historical versions are stored in the system. This also gives you a single point of truth and mitigates the risk of duplicating work. When choosing an EDMS, user-friendliness is a key point to consider, as a program that is intuitive and easy to use helps build a good behavioural practice with end users, allowing the business to receive greater benefit from the system's functionality.
Key Points to Consider
There are key points to consider when choosing the right EDMS system for your business and moving toward successful implementation.
Ease of use – choosing a system that is simple, will help to ensure consistent use of your new EDMS system. IT skills can vary widely between organizations and learning a new system can be overwhelming. Simplicity is key in streamlining the way in which you interact with your EDMS.
Training and Support – an established EDMS such as M-Files is likely to offer a wider range of technical support for your application. Online training will be available as well as onsite training, presentations and technical tips. Research what other businesses have to say about the EDMS you intend to use. Consider what are the shortfalls and benefits.
Back up – your EDMS should include automated back up and restore capabilities ensuring work is never lost. Version control of documents is important, so you are never in the position of creating new information based on outdated information.
Make use of the Cloud – using a full EDMS from the cloud has the greatest benefit when it comes to saving storage space and collaboration between users. Huge cost savings can also be made when you look at cloud-based digital archiving. Companies such as Amazon Glacier are hugely affordable (priced from $0.004 per gigabyte per month) and are extremely secure. There are no storage limits, so this is a great option for storing large amounts of data over large periods of time, eliminating the need to store locally or physically.
Communication – clear communication throughout each step of the change process is key when Implementing a new system. At the design stage, key stakeholder input will be important in gathering information to decide the requirements of the EDMS. This will be based on existing processes and how users work with documents in the current system. Employees need to know what will change, and how those changes will positively affect their business processes.
Mirroring existing workflows – when introducing a new system, avoid extensively changing existing processes. Mirroring current workflows in the digital environment will lessen the impact on users. Over time it is likely that potential improvements to processes will be recognised, and can be changed with less impact.
Start slow – it could be beneficial to move over to a new system incrementally, giving you the chance to test user interface and functionality before fully going live. This will reduce the risk of issues arising, and affecting the productivity of work.
Five Benefits of using an EDMS
Where are your documents located? Time spent retrieving paper copies of archived documents can be slow and impractical. Digitally storing content on an EDMS makes retrieval of documents quick and easy. Metadata helps group documents together based on user-defined data, and most systems support full-text search functionality. This means you should never be a few clicks away from what you are looking for.
The average cost for labour and filing of a document is £18, and between 2%-5% of documents can be misfiled or misplaced on any working day. This cost increases greatly when you consider the time it takes for employees to retrieve missing documentation, or at worst case recreate the documents altogether.
The expense to store paper documents and space required for filing cabinets increases as your business grows. There may still be the need for some documents to stay hard copy, but an EDMS can greatly reduce the amount of paper used in the office, increasing space and saving money. You can trim up to 90% of your operational and storage costs by eliminating paper files and manual processes.
Do your documents contain any data sensitive information? This would include personal data, client data, or information that could harm your company if it fell into the wrong hands. An EDMS ensures that your documents are accessible only to the users authorized to see them. You are also more likely to have enhanced backup and disaster recovery solutions built into an EDMS.
Whether you are producing documentation for internal use, or to be transmitted to an outside source, an EDMS gives you the ability to track, trace and audit workflows securely and efficiently. Many systems allow you to set up automatic workflows to support your specific business processes.
Talk to an advisor
Interested to see how a DMS could help your business? Speak to Drew at Aspen Waite who will be happy to explain more about integrating one.