The first traces of what we know today as “document management systems” first appeared on the landscape in the 1980s and 1990s. Early on, electronic document management was limited in both scope and usefulness. The systems could manage digital documents, but most of them only supported a few different file types and weren’t feasible (or even useful) for a company looking to “go paperless” and move their entire filing system into the digital space. Perhaps the most notable characteristic of early DMS (document management software) programs was that they could be used for document imaging, making it possible for businesses to scan their paper files into the computer and store them there as a backup.
Over time, of course, document management systems have evolved and advanced. Document imaging gave way to OCR (optical character recognition), a key feature of DMS programs like eFileCabinet that creates editable digital versions of scanned documents. Other capabilities—such as file collaboration, workflow, enhanced security, audit tracking, and more—have also become standard in the average DMS. Support for different file types has improved significantly as well.
Recent DMS Trends
Today, it’s easy to feel that document management and control have reached a plateau. The DMS system today is advanced, making it easier than ever for enterprises to go paperless and save money and space in the process. Modern security features for document management systems are sophisticated and make it safer to store a company’s files in a DMS than in just about any physical filing cabinet in the world. Most DMS programs that you pay for (as opposed to open-source freeware programs) will also offer built-in compliance to various government regulatory agencies or documents. For instance, eFileCabinet guarantees compliance with file management rules laid out by HIPAA, FINRA, and the SEC.
Still, despite the smart nature of the modern DMS, the evolution of this form of software has not yet reached its highest plane. In the past year or two, we’ve seen more and more enterprises demanding features that used to be DMS luxuries. For instance, companies want their DMS systems to come equipped with a mobile app or mobile-friendly web interface so that they can access their files from anywhere and on any device. Client portals are also becoming more common in document management systems, making it easier to share project files, contracts, sensitive data, and other files with clients or customers in a secure, Cloud-based fashion. (eFileCabinet, it should be noted, offers both of these features via our mobile app and our SecureDrawer client portal, respectively.)
More companies are also thinking about scalability when it comes to choosing their document management systems. Many businesses used to be willing to use freeware programs (or even simple consumer-based software like Dropbox or Google Docs) to share and collaborate on files, simply because the need for digital document management wasn’t as pressing or universal. Today, enterprises are thinking about DMS more in terms of potential company growth and evolution. As a result, DMS programs need to be scalable, with multiple tiers that allow companies to increase storage space and add more complex features as they grow.
The Next Step of DMS Evolution
With scalability, mobile accessibility, and client portal technology becoming commonplace features in document management systems, what will be the next phase of DMS evolution?
According to Axero Solutions, document management systems of the future are probably going to look more like social network sites. As Axero notes, some DMS systems can be difficult to navigate, given the sheer number of files that a large enterprise uploads in any given day. Pairing DMS tools with social technology would help improve the clarity of the document management system by allowing discussions and comments on different files, a more seamless organizational system based on projects or departments, and more.
At eFileCabinet, we think that DMS programs will only become more compulsory for different enterprises and industries as more and more companies go paperless. There are already government and environmental regulations in place to determine the legal document control requirements for different industries.
Healthcare agencies, food companies, accounting, medical research labs, information technology firms, and numerous other types of companies or organizations have to concern themselves with government compliance when it comes to storing and managing documents digitally. Compliance is likely to become an even more pressing issue as more companies turn to DMS technology and the government drafts document control regulations for more industries.
Essentially, as more enterprises and industries use DMS systems, the government is going to have more reason to regulate the legal aspects of document control. In turn, DMS companies like eFileCabinet are going to build compliance for more federal regulations into their software. More enterprises will then want to use DMS systems to ensure that they are complying with legal document control requirements. The process will compound upon itself, with the only likely outcome being that document management systems eventually become compulsory across virtually every industry.
Are you interested in learning more about eFileCabinet, or in keeping an eye on our always-evolving features? Visit our website today, at www.efilecabinet.com.