Learn everything you need to know about document management and see how to leverage it to build better, more efficient workflows in your business.
In the constantly changing landscape of economic and market shifts, successful businesses are looking inward for ways to reduce costs and increase the efficiency of their business processes.
Document management systems optimize business processes to streamline how your company handles day-to-day tasks. When done professionally, it can also make a long-term impact on your business’ success and ability to maintain a competitive edge in any market.
This is important because teams that must switch focus from mission-critical work to handle tasks that could be automated or spend time correcting errors are less likely to be able to achieve the productivity levels that drive revenue and success for organizations.
The goals of document management and process optimization are:
- Identify and eliminate inefficient labor
- Streamline procedures for reduced process completion times
- Provide technological integration for everyday workflows
- Reduce redundancies and staff frustration
- Improve data accessibility
- Improve data security and compliance
- Increase productivity and profitability
What is Document Management?
Document management is the process of capturing, storing, organizing, and managing digital documents within an organization. Using innovative technology and software systems, businesses can capture, save, index, retrieve, and share documents using the cloud, enabling businesses to efficiently utilize their documents anytime, anywhere.
Having a centralized and structured approach to document storage and use replaces (or complements) traditional paper-based filing systems that tend to be more expensive and take more time.
Modern document management systems allow businesses to digitize and electronically manage various types of documents, including contracts, invoices, reports, memos, and other important records.
The purpose of a document management system in a business is to help businesses become more efficient in how they manage their documents. A digital document management system saves time by making it easier for everyone in an organization to centrally manage documents, saves money by moving storage to the cloud, and increases productivity by simplifying how people save, find, and access important documents and information.
How Does a Document Management System Work?
Document management provides business’ with a centralized platform for storing, organizing, and managing digital documents within an organization. To accomplish this feat, a modern system offers many features that each play a part in building a high-impact document management tool.
Here's a general overview of the features, tools, and processes that makes up how a document management system works:
- Document Capture: The first step toward stronger document management is digitizing your physical documents which can now be captured and digitized in various ways. They can be scanned in or imported from existing digital files. Optical character recognition (OCR) technology can also be used to convert scanned images into digital documents with searchable text.
- Storage and Organization: Next, the documents are stored in a secure digital repository, often in a centralized, cloud-based data storage facility. The documents are then organized using folders or categories to facilitate easy retrieval and management. Metadata, such as titles, tags, keywords, or custom attributes, can also be assigned to each document.
- Search and Retrieval: The metadata collected during the organization phase helps make it easier for people to find specific documents when searching, something that is critical in improving efficiency and productivity. A document management system provides robust search capabilities, allowing users to search for documents based on keywords, metadata, or even the content within the documents.
- Collaboration and Workflow: After digitizing and organizing your documents they become available for multiple users to access, share, and work on simultaneously, making real-time changes and providing comments or annotations. The system also supports digital document workflow management, enabling organizations to define and automate document-related processes, such as review and approval workflows.
- Integration: A modern document management system can also integrate with other business systems and applications. For example, it may integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) systems, email clients, or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Integration streamlines document-related processes, such as automatically storing documents related to specific customers or projects.
Overall, the objective of a document management system is to simplify and streamline document handling processes within businesses. In turn, this enhances collaboration, improves search and retrieval efficiency, and provides a secure and organized approach to any tasks that involve documents.
Why a Document Management System is Important
The importance of a document management system is best identified by looking at businesses that don’t have one. They’re typically plagued by unorganized storage systems, lost data and documents, lots of physical storage, and slow processes when people need to locate specific documents quickly. Instead of having everything centrally stored on a cloud-based system, people must physically find documents that could be anywhere and you risk losing or damaging documents along the way.
A modernized system removes all these headaches by streamlining the entirety of the process from document capture to access later down the line.
Cybersecurity in Document Management
Additionally, a document management system to digitally store documents adds new layers of security for businesses and helps organizations become compliant with necessary regulatory requirements. A modern document management system has tools like:
- Access Controls—Manage who has access to certain documents so that only authorized users have the ability to obtain sensitive information or confidential documents.
- Disaster Recovery and Backup—Remove the risk of losing critical documents with frequent backups and disaster recovery plans that restore access to documents quickly after an outage or disaster.
- Version Control—Track changes to documents to ensure nothing is lost in the editing or revision process and that older information is always available to be reviewed and that the most up-to-date versions are being shared and used.
- Activity Monitoring—See who is accessing documents, the devices they’re using, and what they’re accessing using activity monitoring tools.
The Keys to Efficient Workflows Using Document Management’s Capabilities
Building efficient workflows allows your company to work smarter, not harder, freeing up time to work on more high-impact projects and limiting downtime. To achieve better workflows, you need to follow these three keys:
- Key #1—Print Management: Optimizing your print processes, moving to a managed service model, gaining transparency in print costs, and going fully digital with documents
- Key #2—Document Management: Capturing data and documents more quickly and easily, opening up access to those datasets and documents, maintaining compliance with security regulations, improve team collaboration, and reduce the need for physical storage
- Key #3—Print & Data Security: Access control, remote monitoring, and backup and disaster recovery plans
Key #1: Print Management
The first key to managing efficiency through fine-tuning business processes and workflows is to deploy an effective print management process.
Print management is a subset of document management that takes the essential function of printing and approaches it with a goal of lowering hidden print costs, improving productivity, optimizing infrastructure, and reducing the burden on in-house IT departments. This process can be broken up into four components:
1. Fine-Tuning the Printing Process
Improperly managed print devices can increase print costs dramatically and the lack of a specific print policy can result in wasted print documents through unnecessary or duplicate printing. In fact, paper costs consume nearly 3% of a business’ revenue and 50% of business waste is paper.
Print management begins with a thorough assessment of your current fleet to determine how well it matches your business goals and needs. Underutilized machines can be relocated or eliminated altogether, and legacy technology can be upgraded to give your business the right technology to efficiently handle tasks.
Additionally, a strong managed print program is centered around a written print policy that provides guidelines to encourage less-wasteful printing practices. Typically, these policies include rules like:
- Printing on both sides of the page
- Limiting the number of prints per month or per project
- Rules for black and white vs color printing
- Asking whether something needs to be printed or not
2. Moving Away from the Break/Fix Model
At an average cost to businesses of $5,600 per minute, downtime is costly.
When office technology systems go down, productivity grinds to a halt. With the traditional break/fix solution, support is received only when equipment fails—businesses are at significant risk of downtime bottlenecks. Businesses are moving away from break/fix because, with this model, there’s no incentive for long-term planning, and equipment is left to become obsolete, resulting in even greater costs in the long term.
However, the managed print model provides routine maintenance that addresses problems in advance of a breakdown, resulting in nearly continuous uptime.
Additionally, managed service providers (MSPs) develop a long-term plan of equipment upgrades and renewals that keep your technology running smoothly and drastically reduces the possibility of machines breaking on you.
3. Gaining Cost Transparency
Today’s savvy decision makers are always looking for new ways to decrease unnecessary spending, and yet 90% of businesses don’t know what their print processes are costing them. Many administrators don’t realize that per-page print costs are just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, a portion of your print budget is allocated to the obvious—electricity, equipment, and consumables like paper, ink and toner —but to gain control you must consider the hidden costs of the printing process, such as the costs of:
- Device and network management and security
- Printer downtime
- Lost productivity
- Preparing and finishing printed documents
- Lost data in the event of a security breach
A managed print solution provides the opportunity to offset these hidden costs with a simple monthly fee. Instead of getting support that shows up when things go wrong, businesses get dedicated management that steadily improves operations, upgrades technology, reduces or eliminates downtime, and secures data.
There are also no unexpected fees or surprise upcharges when you use managed print. All costs, including planned updates and upgrades, are included in your monthly payment. This makes it easy to track actual print costs for better accounting and money management.
4. Transitioning to Digital Document Management
Digital transformation is more than just a buzzword. It’s a call for businesses to move away from traditional, inefficient paper-based processes and replace them with streamlined workflows developed around digital technologies.
Paper-based processes make data sharing and storage difficult, slow, and ineffective, but digital processes promote economy, sustainability, and increased productivity. Studies show using digital tools can reduce business costs by 5% and boost employee productivity by 68–83% And, companies pursuing smart technology investments can help produce a 20% decrease in carbon emissions in the next 10 years.
Print management gives companies a pain-free way to take the first steps into moving towards a digitally centered operation. This becomes increasingly important as customers and employees expect on-demand experiences.
In the workforce, such experiences encourage employee engagement, allowing them to become more effective and productive in their primary roles. Print management supports innovation that streamlines processes, delivering an environment that promotes efficiency and achievement and reduces staff frustration.
Key #2: Document Management
Data, whether digital or paper-based, is the lifeblood of nearly every enterprise. Compiling and disseminating business information, sometimes from various sources, can be a challenging and error-prone task without the right technology in place.
Depending on the nature of your industry, document management solutions can deliver a host of benefits that assist with streamlining business processes, reducing error, and giving your company the agility that drives progress. Here are some ways in which document management solutions help businesses build more streamlined workflows:
1. Provide Smarter, More Proficient Data Capture
Simple data capture processes reduce the need for extensive training, as well as providing staff with the ability to process data much more quickly or even automatically. Incoming data can be automatically collected from existing infrastructure—desktop computers, MFPs, scanners, and fax servers—and associated with a specific profile in a database for archival.
Most document management systems are outfitted with self-learning capabilities to streamline capture and storage more intelligently as more documents are collected and identified.
Like print management, document management helps companies step forward into a digitally focused environment, driving transformation and delivering the kind of innovation that supports core business functions more effectively.
2. Streamline Data Access
For many businesses, manual document search and retrieval takes up a huge chunk of employee time, reducing productivity and increasing labor costs.
According to the International Data Corporation, a business with 1,000 employees can waste $2.5-3.5 million every year chasing paper documents.
With one of every 20 documents lost, employees are spending nearly 25 work hours recreating lost documents. With 90% of every business’ information in document form, you can understand the impact that a streamlined data retrieval process can have on workflows.
Document management implements targeted solutions for easy access to necessary information. Employees can find documents through keyword or key phrase searches, full text searches, or searches by categories or folders.
These solutions are designed to integrate with commonly used business applications for ease of use, and information can be accessed at any time from any device or location using an internet connection. This ability is particularly useful for promoting collaboration when some or all your staff are working remotely.
3. Achieve and Maintain Security Compliance
As privacy and data regulations grow more complex, businesses struggle to stay compliant across all business systems. Non-compliance can bring enormous liability to your business, including license revocation, fines, and in some cases even criminal liability.
For example, federal and state regulations such as Sarbanes Oxley, FERPA, HIPAA, CMMC, and others mandate a number of strict privacy and data security guidelines such as records retention, secure storage, access control, and more.
Document management systems can automate these processes, provide continuous monitoring for suspicious activity, and increase access control to achieve complete compliance.
4. Improve Collaboration Organization-Wide
Projects are collaborative, which is why having a central location for document sharing, editing, and storage is so important. Document management gives businesses the ability to maintain a record of project communication and activity throughout project history for accountability and easy version control.
Employees will have access to a document repository for a complete knowledge base of project activities, providing exceptional project management and project control. This ease of access encourages input and action from employees regardless of location, allowing work-at-home or travelling staff members to remain fully productive.
5. Reduce or Eliminate Physical Storage Space
As the cost of commercial property rises, so does the expense of storing paper documents. A document management system reduces the need for storage bins, boxes, or filing cabinets and frees up valuable office space for mission critical functions.
For remote-based companies, having to pay for physical space solely to keep records and documents is an avoidable expense and a pain. Additionally, storing hard-copy documents presents the risk of physical theft and adds another layer of cost to companies who must install physical security measures to monitor sensitive data on site.
Document management using cloud storage can severely reduce or entirely eliminate the need for this physical storage.
Key #3: Print & Data Security
While print security is a hallmark of both print management and document management solutions, it is critical enough to today’s businesses to be highlighted separately.
Cyberattacks are on the rise and hackers are frequently targeting office printers to gain access to sensitive data. One survey found 92% of businesses saw an increase in cyberattacks from the previous year. And office printers? Of companies that reported a data loss incident, half tracked the entry point to an office printer. In response, smart businesses are increasingly interested in processes that will add security — and peace of mind — to their business environment.
There are several ways that a combination of print and document management can contribute to a more secure data environment for your business, including:
1. Access Control and Managed Print Permissions
With access control, administrators can give specific access to office equipment or documents at the push of a button—and remove access if that employee changes departments, moves to another office location, or leaves the company.
Print permissions can be managed in the same manner to avoid confidential information being left in hard-document form at a print tray, leaving it open for anyone to access. Instead, a print job is generated and held in a digital queue until an employee with the correct credentials (PIN, User ID, Keycard, etc.) arrives to collect the job.
2. Audit Reports and Remote Monitoring
In the event of data theft, loss, or misuse, administrators can instantly pull an audit report that shows how, when, where, and by whom data was last accessed. Devices and usage can be tracked and remotely monitored to detect suspicious activity at the first instance to block attacks before they occur.
Suspicious activity can include abnormal activity in your database such as changes in permissions or unusual content growth; it can include abuse of privileged accounts such as modified audit trails; it can occur as configuration changes to les; or simple unexpected network behavior.
3. Backups and Disaster Recovery Plans
Data breaches should be taken seriously by all companies, regardless of size.
To protect your business and your data from cybercriminals, you need to leverage the power of secure data protection through automated backups, data redundancies, and have a strong disaster recovery plan in place.
Automated Backups—Automated backups not only maintain security by reducing the capacity for human error, but they also ensure your data is backed up on a regular basis without burdening your staff with the process.
Data Redundancies—To ensure your backed-up data remains available for you in the event of a natural disaster, power outage, or data breach, it’s essential to store it in more than one location. This can include on-site data centers, cloud-based data centers, or a mix of both, referred to as a “hybrid” solution.
Disaster Recovery—A disaster recovery plan puts protocols into place that activate in the event of data breach or loss to protect your business continuity. Typically, this begins with a risk assessment to determine and correct vulnerabilities. Afterwards, a set of procedures is developed to be implemented in the event of a disaster, so staff have a clear roadmap of how to proceed.
Using this three-pronged security solution, print and document management systems can provide a higher level of data protection for companies wanting to secure business continuity.
Three Document Management Solutions—One Efficient, Productive, Collaborative, and Sustainable Outcome
Print and document management solutions—and the strong security measures inherent in them both — are essential tools for any business that is serious about taking a competitive lead in today’s volatile markets.
Businesses are processing greater volumes of data than ever and new technologies are cropping up on a continuous basis, making it hard for in-house teams to properly plan and manage expansion.
With print and document management, your business can leverage the combined IT expertise of a team of industry experts to help you plan, execute, and maintain systems that will improve your workflows, automate more processes, and let you make better, more informed decisions in less time.
Innovations across print and data management are constantly evolving that support business leaders to manage their digital transformations and give their employees the best tools available to help them succeed.
These internal improvements generate gains in the areas of time and resources, contribute to better customer satisfaction, and help businesses stay ahead of the curve, able to pivot easily as markets fluctuate.
Get in touch with one of Impact’s document management specialists today to see how we can implement all the solutions above and build more efficient print and document workflows for your business.