Document management is a systematic process for creating, managing, and tracking electronic documents and images. These systems cover the entire document life cycle, including:
- Capturing information
- Editing the documents
- Storing data securely
- Searching for and retrieving the documents
- Transmitting files to peripheral devices, outside agencies, etc.
- Emergency backups
- Deleting obsolete documents
Document management software gives companies a set of powerful tools to manage some of the challenges in the modern marketplace. These include an ever-growing need for data security, increasing regulations in many business sectors, and complex workflows slowing productivity to a crawl.
Challenge 1: Ensuring Data Security
The Covid-19 pandemic left many companies scrambling to implement a work-from-home or hybrid setup. Unfortunately, this messy transitional period just emboldened hackers. Cybercrime has sharply increased. These digital criminals are targeting businesses of every size and in every market.
Paper documents are only as secure as the room the file is in. Electronic records have several enhanced protections offered by the management software, such as:
- Data Security and Encryption. Your business’s data is kept secure on a server, sheltered behind firewalls and other measures. This encryption means it can’t be read or copied by a third party while it’s transmitted elsewhere, such as to a Wi-Fi-enabled printer.
- Access Control. Document management software lets you set permissions so unauthorized users can’t access these documents
- Editing Rights. These rights, including check in/check out and document locking, prevent errors like two employees trying to edit a document simultaneously and overwriting one another.
- Audit Trail. Electronic documents record who has worked on a document, when, and what they did with the file.
- Version Control. This feature lets you keep tabs on the development of a document and track changes. Users can easily determine if they are looking at and working on the most recent version.
- Roll-backs. With version control and file backups, you’ll be able to revert to an earlier version if the document gets corrupted or you detect suspicious activity.
Challenge 2: Adhering to Regulatory Compliance Policies
Some businesses, especially in the legal and medical fields, operate under a higher degree of scrutiny. They are expected to comply with a wide range of local and federal regulations. Businesses who don’t negotiate this obstacle course of red tape could face fees and penalties, lose their clients’ trust, and even have their licenses revoked.
Document management systems help companies stay compliant with these laws, regulations, and their own policies. Here the software itself acts like guard rails, protecting patient data and keeping the company from a costly misstep.
We touched on data protection and access control already. These aren’t just good business practices in the modern workplace; they also help maintain regulatory compliance. Many laws, such as HIPAA, require that patient data be stored securely and only accessed by approved persons. Electronic document management systems offer protections such as encryption, as well as restricting access to only certain users. This keeps everyone else – from cybercriminals to employees who have no contact with this client – away from sensitive data.
Of course, not every regulation breach is due to criminal action. Even well-meaning employees can make a mistake. One misplaced decimal point could be the difference between sending a customer the right shipment of construction material versus ten times what they wanted. Document management software can be programmed to detect unusual or regulation-breaking alterations to these digital files. These red flags give the user a chance to notice and correct mistakes.
Non-compliance prevention is vital, but a company may still find itself under an audit. Sometimes these are regularly scheduled, while on other occasions they may be a part of legal proceedings. A document management system keeps a record of how each file is created and edited. This record covers time stamps, user log-ins, which work stations were used to access it, where the document was sent, and much more. These exact details may be what you need to maintain your business’s status and defend it during a lawsuit.
Challenge 3: Streamlining Workflow Processes
To some extent, ‘paperwork’ is ‘busy work.’ Managing paper documents involves a host of redundant tasks that have to be done by hand. Any one of these jobs may be quick and straightforward to do, but how many employees only touch one bit of paperwork during their day? In a busy office, it’s more like dozens of client files and hundreds of individual documents and images.
These tasks add up. They siphon valuable time and concentration away from more critical tasks. Employees may have to physically hand over documents, delegate sections of time to keep ahead of routine paperwork, and more. All of this impacts workflow and efficiency.
Paper document systems are also vulnerable to employee error. One misfiled sheet can lead to hours of delay trying to track it down or re-create the document. It may not even be possible to create an identical file in some cases. These errors tend to happen when employees are tired and under pressure, i.e., during the busiest times.
Digitized workflows streamline all of this. Existing client information can be auto-filled into new forms. Files are automatically stored in the system and can be searched for with keywords, name and date tags, and more. If a digital document gets corrupted or vanishes, an archived copy can be retrieved from backups in the cloud. This happens within moments instead of hours of effort for paper-based systems. Automated tasks and a little digital assistance keep employees’ workflow moving smoothly.
Document management is a powerful strategy for solving many of the challenges a modern business faces. These systems increase data security and help you stay compliant with document regulations and policies. They can also improve vital business functions like workflows, boosting employee productivity.
Would you like to learn more about what a document management system can offer your Sacramento company? Contact Buckmaster Office Solutions today, and one of our representatives will be happy to discuss your options.