Business documents can take on many forms. They might be job aids for employees learning a new skill. They could be contracts with other businesses or individuals. They could be applications for a service your business provides. They could also be government-related forms or other legal documents that help show your company is in compliance with all the regulations that it must abide by. All of these documents, as well as others, are important. They require different levels of access, and they need to be able to be accessed by the right people when they are needed. A good way to accomplish this is with a document management system.

What is Document Management?

The simplest way to describe document management is as an electronic filing cabinet, however, that “file cabinet” has a much more sophisticated filing system than your standard metal cabinets. Document management is used to capture, track, store, and share documents throughout the different areas of a company. It can distribute documents to different workflows, depending on an employee’s job function, and assure that confidential information stays protected from those who do not have a business need to view them.

Document management systems, also known as Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS), can work both with paper documents and electronic files. There are five main services that document management offers, and depending on your needs, you can choose which service or combination of services works best for you. They include:

  • Content Management System (CMS) – Manages the content produced by your business. This content can include text and image files as well as audio and video clips stored digitally.
  • Records Management – A common option used by businesses where security and confidentiality are important, such as healthcare professionals. It is mindful of various compliance rules, including HIPPA regulations.
  • Digital File System – A system that converts paper records into digital records through scanning.
  • Cloud-Based System – Files are stored in the cloud, which allows for higher levels of data to be stored versus being stored via local hardware. It also protects documents if there is a problem with the local network, and makes documents more accessible, even offsite.
  • Private Server System – As an alternative to storing in the cloud, documents can be stored on a private server, and your business can manage the security aspect of the storage.

How It Works

Document management starts with either an on-site or offsite system. Companies that choose onsite usually have several terabytes of documents to store. Transferring files is a fast process, but it does require a strong IT infrastructure to handle the volume. Offsite DMS works better if your ability to invest in IT services is limited, but you still need to be able to share document access across departments and locations.  If you have people in your company working from home, a cloud-based system is also needed to keep everyone connected through both the workflows and the overall organizational culture.

In addition to helping with your daily operations, document management’s efficiency is rooted in four main areas:

  • Capturing documents, in either paper or electronic form.
  • Indexing documents so they can be filed and archived appropriately, as well as looked up and accessed quickly and easily.
  • Collaboration is more efficient through version control. Files can be accessed and edited by multiple people at the same time, and various versions can be stored to keep a history of a file.
  • Archiving features make it easy to locate and access this history in the case of an internal or external audit.

Key Features

Document management makes life easier for companies and their employees by:

  • Categorizing content – document management indexes content based on type and keywords.
  • Keeping document libraries – creates a single space where all documents can be stored and accessed by anyone with the proper permissions.
  • Managing metadata – metadata is data about other data. It helps with organizing files that “fit” into more than one area of the company.
  • Tracking versions – this monitors a document’s progress throughout its lifecycle. Staff that needs to update a document can access it and save a new version to the system, while the old version remains as well for comparison and audit purposes.
  • Framing your information policy – setting clear guidelines on who has editing authority for various types of documents.
  • Co-authoring ability – allows employees to modify the same document at the same time without interrupting what the others are doing.

Choosing a Document Management System

There are some things you need to consider when shopping for a document management system. To help you find the right software for your business, be sure to take into consideration:

  • The file structure – A cabinet and drawer system is easiest, and a proper document management system can have the same kind of feel through your server or the cloud. Even if a file exists in multiple departments, it can feel like it is only in the place where the employee needs it to be.
  • Searchability – Searching should be not only based on the name of the file but also keywords or the date modified to offer quick access.
  • Ease of use – If the system is too complex, people can resist using it. User-friendliness is a sure way to get all of your employees on board.
  • Mobile access –- Many people in a company work remotely or on the go. With mobile access a part of your document management system, files can be accessed and even edited from almost anywhere.
  • Integration with existing systems – If you’ve been in business for any amount of time, there is some system currently in place that plays a vital role within your daily operations. Find a document management system that will support what you’ve been doing and integrate with it to create a more efficient and user-friendly system.

If your Sacramento-area company is ready to take the next step with document management, contact Buckmaster Office Solutions today to schedule a demo. We’ve been serving our community for 62 years, providing technology solutions that empower digital workplaces.