Being efficient is a never-ending process. Companies are always striving to increase efficiency in operations while minimizing process defects and improving overall performance. In addition to the environmental benefits and cost reductions associated with moving to a paperless environment, going paperless decreases the time involved in nearly every aspect of traditional document processing.
The depth and breadth of paper use in our society is overwhelming. The more society grows, the more complicated it becomes to gain access to accurate and relevant information and so the process slows. Conversely, the public’s expectations for quick, immediate access to information continues to increase.
Document management systems turn paper into digital images such as PDF or TIFF files that can be stored electronically and, with some software help, searched or edited. These systems also can improve electronic filing, retrieving and secure access to information.
At its simplest, a document management system consists of a scanner and software that convert paper documents to electronic PDFs/TIFFs. And you can get less expensive software to make PDFs searchable and editable. Here are several things to look at when considering EDM Software:
• Will it allow you to create PDFs and convert the images to searchable files?
• Will it automatically recognize text with Optical Character Recognition (OCR)?
• Will it scan documents like receipts and invoices, pull off key information and then make it portable to applications such as Quicken and Microsoft Excel and Outlook?
Document Management System Benefits:
Simplify document review process
Access correct and most current document version
Content Approval and Publishing features
Relieve paperwork burdens with improved process efficiency
Minimization of the possibility of lost information and liability
Sharing of information among many users simultaneously
Improvement of service and response to customers
Create an online filing system as you would for paper in a filing cabinet.
Use file and document names that will be easy to find and remember.
Use the “print to file” option to save electronic documents from outside, like e-mails or online statements, to their correct electronic files.
Back up your files regularly, probably at least weekly.
Make a master list of file folders that you can refer to.
End the year by reviewing your files. Trash any that you no longer need, move files that are going to storage (like the year’s invoices) and set up new files for the new year.
Keep in mind that you’ll also have to maintain paper files and weed through them at the end of each year, although the amount of these files should be much smaller than before. These documents include notarized documents and materials you need to prepare for tax season.
While you may be tempted to scan your receipts and toss the paper originals, don’t do it. You may need them as proof for a tax audit. Keep all bills, invoices, receipts and canceled checks related to deductible expenses for three years after filing tax forms. At that point, shred them to prevent identify theft.
All document management systems are not created equal, so you’ll want to be discerning when determining the right one for your company. When chosen correctly, a sound DMS will ease continuity and disaster-recovery planning efforts, and help your business maintain regulatory compliance and avoid legal entanglements or penalties.