Document management is a term you’re more than likely familiar with, but what does it really mean?
Traditionally in the pre-digital age, document management involved the manual processing and filing of hard copy documents to be stored in filing cabinets and boxes throughout an organisation under lock and key. As you can imagine, particularly for organisations that were legally obliged to store documents for a certain period of time this presented issues, primarily logistical when space ran out but more substantially, security and data protection risks.
Today, information tends to be stored electronically, yet digitalisation isn’t just about the conversion of paper to digital formats. Today’s document management systems (DMS) have the power to fundamentally change the way we work. An electronic DMS is defined as the use of computer systems and software to store, access, manage and track documents and images electronically. By reducing our dependency on physical documents we can make data more accessible and easier to share, reducing costs and streamlining business processes.
DMS’s vary in size and functionality. What features do you need to be aware of before choosing a system that suits your organisations requirements?
Online cloud based storage platforms give organisations flexibility to upload and manage documents in the office and on the go, via a variety of platforms including mobile. Cloud storage also provides users with scalability, ensuring you don’t run out of storage space. Whilst cloud storage is fast becoming the norm, that doesn’t mean some organisations don’t prefer to store their documents on premise. Having on-site storage gives organisations total control. They manage the IT infrastructure and are in charge of upgrades and system changes and data can also be accessed offline. Consult with your IT department to determine what solution works for you.
The mere thought of uploading your files one by one could put you off the process completely. Thankfully you don’t have to. You can upload files in bulk to your DMS ensuring you save time, empowering staff to continue their roles adding value to your organisation.
When dealing with thousands of documents, being able to find the one you’re looking for quickly and easily is of top importance. A DMS will enable you to tag, rank and categorise documents meaning they can be easily found. The larger the organisation, the more important this functionality becomes. An effective DMS will save staff time in the long run by presenting file structures in an organised manner. You will also be able to action subject access requests easily, ensuring your organisation is well on its way to being compliant with data protection regulations.
Having a large workforce means you need the ability to restrict access to confidential information. Ensuring your DMS has a permissions function allows administrators to manage who can access what information. This helps control and protect important documents.
Document Review and Disposal
When you no longer require a document, a DMS allows you to set a date on documents or groups of documents where they are assigned to a team member for action. This may be for a review where they can then be scheduled for a further review later in time, or for when a document is no longer required and it can be deleted from your system. It’s good practice to ensure the safe disposal of documents that are no longer required. This will help you save storage space on your systems and keep your files up to date.
When it comes to the implementation of a DMS you will need to transfer your data from current repositories to your new system. Software applications are used to map system data for automatic migration. Once complete you can determine migration accuracy through statistical analysis. Data cleansing should be performed either before migration or during that process, to remove data no longer required and ensure that only relevant material is migrated. The migration process is required to preserve security throughout the process. Metadata gleaning and enhancement is a function of migration that can improve the later categorisation and finding of data within the system. Identification of potential GDPR information is an important product of this process, along with identification of duplication, obsolete and redundant information.
Document management systems come in varying shapes and sizes with varying degrees of features and functionality. It’s to consider all aspects of your requirements to ensure you implement the correct solution specific to your organisations needs which will ensure you get the full benefit of an effective system as well as excellent value from your investment.
Equiniti ICS have a history of developing and implementing document management platforms for organisations across the public and private sector. To speak to one of our experts today email firstname.lastname@example.org.