Wikipedia defines a Document Management System (DMS) as a computer system ( or a set of computer programs) used to track and store electronic documents and/or images of paper documents. Smeadsoft defines it as the imaging, storage and retrieval of documents and information scanned into an electronic system. This includes both documents and files orginally created in electronic format as well as paper documents, photos and other items scanned into digital form and saved with keywords.
Both definitions start with STORAGE of documents.
If you want to store documents away- never to be looked at again- then get a brown cardboard box, fill it with paper, seal it up with tape, and store it in the basement- and in 20 years when you move- open it up- and finally decide to throw it out. Rather extreme case in point. Because if you really have documents that you will never have the need to look at again- shred them now.
But most documents do have to be looked at again for numerous reasons.
In your company is there any one type of document that seems to have the most “handprints” on it. Are invoices passed around for approval and payment processing? Is customer correspondence shared with different departments? Are meeting notes distributed to several team members.
Where to start- I’ll share my experience with Accounts Payable.
When I think of the Accounts Payable Department, I picture a small workflow of matching documents from purchasing, receiving, inventory control, invoice and finally payment information all relating to the same file. This file may be required later for more detailed information including warranty, tax or pricing information.
Your workflow can be as elaborate or as simple as fits your needs. In my case I match up all of the documents, and once paid I scan the file to our electronic filing system. My indexes show the supplier, invoice or payment number, invoice or payment date, and the amount.
These invoices are available on line for retrieval by those employees that have access to the A/P cabinet.
So instead of leaving their desks- going to the filing cabinet-looking for an invoice- which should be filed in the suppliers folder-and fingers crossed the invoice isn’t currently on someone’s desk- or worse yet misfiled in another supplier's folder; instead of that, the employee does an electronic search from their computer.
To start your DM process- you just need to pick a date. Decide this month to do a test trial and refine your search requirements. (How many index fields do you really need for search requirements later?) Once you have finished your testing period- make it a new procedure in your office that ALL A/P Documents going forward will be scanned and indexed. In time you can convert your older files into electronic images if needed.
Once a company has started the Document Scanning and Electronic filing in one department- other departments will also want to look at their workflow and participate. Once you have a system up and running your company is no longer at risk to having their critical business information stolen, lost or destroyed due to some unforeseen circumstance, such as a hurricane or fire. With enhanced security features you can prevent unauthorized individuals from accessing documents they shouldn’t.
For more information on why people don't do DM Check Out:Top 10 Excuses For Not Considering Document Management
Have you recently started scanning and electronic filing of office documents? How helpful have you found it? Share your experience so others can learn.