Document management originally began in the 1980's when hardware technology was created with the ability to scan paper files into more space saving formats, such as microfilm and then directly onto a pc. More recently, in the last ten years or so, document management solutions have been designed to store not just scanned paper images but electronic files too such as Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, PDF's and emails.
For many people, the main objective with a document management system is simply to save space. Filing cabinets and boxes take up valuable office space which could be far better used in other ways. Off site storage is also expensive which really isn't necessary to incur with the technology available today. However, whilst the direct savings achieved by saving space or stopping the expense of off site storage are useful, the main benefits from any document management system are saving time and increasing efficiency.
Some time will be saved when filling documents, unless the indexing structure is too complicated, so it's always best to keep it simple. A vast amount of time will be saved when retrieving documents. Also, the data retrieved is likely to be far more accurate compared with the more traditional method of searching through a mass of paperwork. The faster and the more accurate the result, the more efficient the person or business will become.
Any document management solution is usually made up of two elements - a scanner to convert paper to electronic format (usually into TIFF or PDF) and software to store and retrieve the files. This software can be as basic as simply using Windows file/folder structure combined with a Windows or MS Office scanning application, or it can be an enterprise wide document management system utilising a high speed, high capacity database.
A good example of very basic (and inexpensive) document management software is ScanSoft Paperport. Paperport utilises the Windows file/folder structure but offers a lot more than simply using Windows. Almost any file type can be stored and documents can be searched by file name or content - the words contained within each page, whether they be scanned or electronic. Paperport, whilst it can be networked by simply purchasing more copies of the software (professional version), is aimed at small organisations, usually sole traders.
High end solutions include products such as Documentum and Filenet. These are geared towards very large organisations and come with a corresponding price tag. Whilst there may be some exceptions, most end users would be spending in excess of six figures to achieve a document management solution often bespoke to their requirements.
For a good value, but highly advanced and simple to use document management solution, Virtual Cabinet will fit very well into most organisations. Virtual Cabinet targets its products at SME level (Small and Medium sized Organisations) although many sole traders and multinationals are benefiting given the low cost and full scalability. To learn more about Virtual Cabinet, click here.
In summary, a document management system can be used in many ways. It can simply store paper files for rapid retrieval when required from a pc. Or it can encompass all company data allowing the user to find any relevant data within seconds. Perhaps think of it like this... in an office there may be a dozen filing cabinets, a group of pc's all containing locally stored files such as letters to customers, emails etc, a couple of servers storing other correspondence, quotes, client data etc and you have a computer keyboard which can instantly search through any of this data (privilege rights permitting of course). Would you save time? Would you save space? Would you be more efficient and more profitable?
For further information, or to arrange a brief online demonstration of how you can start to benefit from a document management solution like thousands of other companies please get in touch.