An Overview of Document Management
For those of you starting to consider integrated document management, here’s a quick overview of what paperless life looks like. To summarize, most document management solutions will electronically capture documents; allow you to access them from any device; streamline business processes using workflow and automate the output of files.
The first thing you would do with a document is capture it. Document management systems allow for a broad spectrum of methods to capture files—like scan, email, fax, barcode or OCR, for instance. These methods will capture documents that have been produced within your company as well as files originating from an outside source. Most document management solutions have the capability to immediately capture documents directly from your ERP software application as well.
Once your document is securely stored in the electronic repository, it can be searched for, accessed (from the web, smart phones or tablets), annotated and shared by users—as long as your software administrator has granted the users those permissions. The solution will also keep track of this document history, noting who has edited each file.
An especially beneficial feature that document management allows for is the ability to drive a file through a workflow, providing greater visibility and removing bottlenecks. Automated reminders are sent, steps are tracked and responsible parties are notified when they need to contribute tasks. Think about how many processes, like the approval process, are slowed down by documents that land on your coworker’s desk, only to get buried and forgotten. With a paperless system, your coworker could instead place an electronic approval stamp on a document and send it forward with the push of a button.
And lastly, document management solutions allow you automate the delivery of documents to recipients outside your organization. For example, an AR invoice could be sent to a customer based on his or her preferred method (email, fax, etc.) and format (TIFF, PDF, XML file, etc.), making your life easier.