The majority of individuals are aware that document management solutions provide storage for scanned documents; however, there are a number of other documents that can be stored in these paperless solutions. These include:
- Electronic faxes
- Saved Web pages
Users that are more sophisticated sometimes develop naming conventions that ease the process of identifying and retrieving documents, without the use of a document management solution. However, specific benefits can be derived from document management solutions. The system can be likened to a traffic cop who can bring order to chaotic situations by categorizing the different types of documents and directing correspondences to the proper place.
How Document Management Solutions Work
With a document management system, every document is assigned a template or profile sheet that usually contains a detailed description of the document, including client, author, and document type. For instance, an insurance company may want to determine the state law that governs contracts or policies. A firm that represents a real estate developer may need additional fields to identify the specific property, the client, and various tenants. The full text and profile of the document are both indexed for speedy retrieval. The document management system will assign a file name, which will determine where the document will be stored based on stipulations by the firm, such as matter number, author, client, and document type.
Below are some other specific advantages that can be gained from document management systems:
Faster Document Retrieval
Every firm that does not use a document management system spends way too much time searching for misplaced documents. With a manual system, users must be aware of the name of an existing document and where it has been stored. While the majority of users are quite efficient at locating their own documents, hunting for a document created by another person could take a considerable amount of time. In any event, the time taken to retrieve a document is bound to be far greater than the 3 to 5 seconds it takes to find a document within a management system. In a number of cases, users spend 5 minutes or more hunting for documents or even end up retyping them.
Document Access Control
Typically, document management provides a firm with better control over how secure and accessible a document will be. Confidential documents can be accessed only by individuals who are required to use them, such as people responsible for confidential client matters, accounting personnel, or human resources personnel.
By defining the groups of individuals who have access to particular types of documents, the management system prevents the problems associated with “passwording” documents. These problems range from posting passwords on computer monitors to forgetting passwords altogether. Frequently, security provisions include an audit trail that shows things like the last person to access a document, who printed it, checked it out, or made changes to it.
While document management solutions are sometimes perceived initially as an intrusion into work habits, these systems are much more reliable than their manual counterparts. There will never be any question of where a document has been placed—it will always be in the system.