By: Lana Bawnaeh
Let’s look back at how organizations used to keep everything related to their businesses documented and archived before having a Document Management System.
For the documents and papers to be accessible, they had to be filed manually using certain criteria like filling them in alphabetical order, or by creation date (year), or by the department they belonged to. This helped people access the information they want and restore them when needed. However, sorting and maintaining documents that way used to be a very involved and complicated process.
Another problem that faced manual filling is that no restrictions can be done to control documents’ accessibility by certain people. This increases the security risk.
With the rise of technology, however, a Document Management System (DMS) is a must-have tool in today’s digitally advanced world to get rid of all problems in the manual documentation and archiving process.
There are a lot of digital document management systems in the market; but when choosing a Document Management System for your business, consider its features and make sure it will streamline your business and will have a good impact on your work-process. An effective DMS should, at a minimum, contain the following essential features.
Optimized Search and Retrieve
A good DMS system has to reduce the time and effort consumed in searching and retrieving data. By using keywords, numbers, or simple phrases, accessing any data will only take a few moments. Keeping this data electronically stored is one of the crucial features such systems provide. And because every organization or even each person has vital information that they cannot afford to lose, backing up this information is a must! A good Document management system provides backup capabilities to allow you to back up data periodically.
File Sharing and Versioning
Using a DMS, you can instantly send and receive files regardless of their locations. And in case the documents were large, a DMS system provides the ability to compress them to accelerate file sharing and transfer.
The system makes the process efficient by enabling authorised users to share, copy, edit, and update documents easily. Using this system, you will be able to easily keep track of stored and shared data, and be aware of who viewed and/or edited the document. In addition, almost all DMS software today come with advanced versioning capabilities allowing users to keep older versions available in case needed. This way, they can go back and compare documents’ change history or retrieve a specific previous version of the file.
Workflow and Integrability
Every business has certain processes with a pre-defined cycle that it follows. Each process will require different documents to support its efficiency. These documents are expected to be transferred between companies, departments, and people, so having a well-developed DMS ensures increased work efficiency and quality. When documents are managed digitally, workflows will be proceeding at a quicker pace.
Furthermore, documents are usually part of certain systems’ processes. Therefore, document management systems don’t exist in silos but rather as part of a more comprehensive business flow. While DMS software usually allows users to define document routes/paths for their document, this capability can be further extended when integrated with a fully-fledged workflow management system. This enables users to define business processes and include their documents as part of them. Easy integration of document management systems with all sorts of business systems is an important aspect to consider to be able to utilize the system features within other enterprise software such as financial, HR, supply chain, etc.
Security and Access Control
Last but not least are security and access control. Controlling access to the system and enclosed documents based on configurable user permissions to protect data from being revealed to unauthorized users is crucial. A DMS must implement advanced security standards and apply security best practices to keep documents secure. Data encryption and system security are some of the most important aspects of any DMS in use today.
There are many document management systems out there; each of them has its own set of features. Upon deciding which one you will choose, consider its efficiency, its key features, its integrability, and how it can be an added value to your business!