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Document management reduces the stress of paperwork

Matt Pearce

The term “paperless office” has been around for more than twenty years … but the reality is that over 90 PERCENT of corporate memory is still on paper, and we create more paper documents than ever!

Document Management, often referred to as Document Management Systems or simply DMS, is the solution to printing, copying, storing and then trying to retrieve all that paper in the course of business. Document Management Systems use software to stop all this paper shuffling and instead capture, store, manage, secure and track documents and images electronically. Think of DMS as a giant electronic file cabinet that resides on your server or on the cloud that allows you to do everything you could physically do with documents and files, only electronically.

“Scanning documents is the easy part of Document Management. It’s finding that document two years down the road that presents the challenge. Think about how many ways someone could file Boulevard. Is it ‘Blvd.’ ‘Bl.’, ‘Boul,’ or some other abbreviation? The room for human error is huge,” says Britt Siedentopf, a co-worker of mine and solutions sales manager of Smile Business Products, a local DMS provider.

A good DMS would automate naming this file by using optical character recognition and would file it based on preset values taken from an existing database. Filing is completely automatic once your software is installed and set up correctly. DMS software increases efficiency, reduces liability, reduces costs for storage, can free up valuable space, enhances security, ensures certain regulatory compliances such as HIPPA, and simplifies document retrieval. DMS can do all this and much more.

From simple-client based systems to enterprise wide, owners or managers looking for DMS have many choices and should consult with a company that offers several choices in DMS as capabilities and prices of DMS fluctuate greatly.

Most basic systems file and retrieve documents. More robust systems have work flow components that automatically route documents from the initial scan or document creation through multiple business processes. (Such as receipt of PO to department approval, to manager override, to accounting for payment, to stamped as paid and archived). This can often save companies substantial amounts of money if early payment discounts are available.

Some of the key questions to ask when considering any DMS are:

* Who is the developer of the software?

* How long have they been doing DMS?

* Does the software automatically integrate into my existing line of business programs such as Quickbooks, MS Outlook and industry specific software, and will it integrate with my databases?

* Is the product scalable for future growth?

* Does the software offer security authentication, Optical Character Recognition, an audit trail to check in/check out, annotation and stamps, version control, and other features valuable to my organization?

*How robust is the work-flow feature?

* Will its integration make me compliant with specific regulations if that is my reason for purchasing?

When he was asked what pitfalls to avoid in choosing a DMS, Mr. Siedentopf warns, “Do your homework and invest the time upfront in determining if the document management software you choose will meet your current and future business goals. The right software should; reduce employee stress, allow more work to be taken on with less man hours and increase the bottom line. Care should be taken in choosing a partner that is using the same product they are selling you, as well as a partner that is a Certified Document Imaging Architect. These are not complex solutions but you do need an expert to help set it all up correctly the first time.” He also encourages owners and managers to inquire and understand any ongoing licensing fees that will be involved with the software chosen.

If you are part of an organization where phone calls come in and information is requested, how often is the request met with, “I will have to look that up and get back to you, what is your number?” How much time is spent looking for that information? What will that cost in employee time? If this is happening, DMS can help you. With DMS, the conversation now becomes: “Yes, I have every detail of that in front of me, let me email you the information along with supporting documentation right now.” The best part of this scenario is that an owner can have access to information, send it instantly, approve a payment or PO, and then archive the information all from a smart phone, or laptop while away on a business trip.

Document Management is an action item on most owners’ to-do list. If it’s not, it should be. DMS will save time, money and help businesses operate more efficiently.

Matt Pearce is northern Nevada sales manager for Smile Business Products. Contact him at 358-1084, ext. 14401, or at MPearce@smilebpi.com.


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