A business cannot solve a complex problem using the same thinking that created it in the first place. Granted, Albert Einstein probably didn’t intend for that statement to apply to a company’s document organization processes, but it’s still a valid point. No one can argue that keeping track of every document that travels through a company during every step of its journey is a complex task.
The good news is technology can help. For companies drowning in their paper and electronic files, a document management system can be a lifeline. While this may sound dramatic, a business that doesn’t have a formal process in place to manage all their information may be in more danger than they realize.
What is a Document Management System?
Essentially, a document management system is a set of policies, procedures, and tools a company uses to manage its documents. For smaller companies, this could be as simple as having a shared network drive with a hierarchy of folders and a file naming convention. Larger companies will have a document management plan that describes their business processes. The plan will state how they classify and number their documents, as well as how to store and retrieve files.
The term is increasingly used to refer to electronic systems that help companies keep track of their electronic files. The systems will have a document organization structure, fast search capabilities, and will limit access to specific files based on its classification.
The minimum features of an electronic document management system should include:
- Support for different types of electronic files (like Word documents, spreadsheets, images, emails, or PDFs)
- Permission and access control tools
- The ability to capture and search the metadata of documents
- An audit trail of the history for every document
- Version or revision controls for updating documents
This isn’t all the company should look for when they start shopping around for a solution. The latest systems are work productivity tools in their own right. They assist companies to capture and process documents quickly, automate their workflows, and help with disaster recovery.
Benefits of Document Management Systems for Businesses in Canada
Companies in Canada shouldn’t just consider implementing a document management system in a time of crisis. An electronic system can positively influence the morale in the office and reduce the company’s bottom-line. Every minute an employee spends looking for a document is wasted time.
The company can choose to deploy their system on-site, in the cloud, or have a hybrid solution. With a central repository for all the company’s documents, staff can access their information from a desktop computer, tablet, or mobile phone. Staff may not be happy to hear that they can now respond to a request while sitting in the breakroom, but they’ll become more productive.
Latest Innovations in Document Management Systems
Scaling is no longer a bad word when it comes to software systems. Formerly, whenever a company wanted to scale operations, it meant they needed to acquire expensive hardware or pay for additional software licenses. Cloud infrastructure allows companies to scale up or down as required. Costs depend on the company’s consumption, making modern solutions affordable.
Innovations include automatic indexing of documents using artificial intelligence. Machine learning tools can scan and read documents, finding the critical metadata to help file them in the correct node of the hierarchy. Artificial intelligence can also help with scanned documents, extracting information like invoice numbers, dates, and supplier information.
Optical character recognition, partnered with artificial intelligence, is a powerful combination and can do much of the heavy lifting when digitizing information. It can help with automatic classification and processing, data extraction, assist with document organization, and improve information security. It can also help the business make better decisions (like implementing a document management system earlier) using predictive analytics.
Improved Data Security with Document Management Systems
One area companies need to ensure they cover all their bases is with data security. Cyberattacks targeting small and medium businesses continue to increase year on year. A data breach can occur from various sources. Even paper documents can cause an unintended disclosure. Adopting an electronic system that encrypts data during transmission or at rest will limit the likelihood of an attack succeeding.
Take Control of Documents with a Solution from First Phase Data
First Phase Data can assist organizations wading through the different solutions available on the market. By putting the company’s needs first, First Phase Data will work with the organization to implement a comprehensive document management system. First Phase Data has helped companies to streamline their processes and leverage technology for improved operations since 1983.
To discuss our services and find out more about document management systems for your company in Canada, reach out to First Phase Data today.
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