How to get smart with your organization’s documents
You have a meeting with a potential customer in 15 minutes. You spent all week warming up this lead and all you need now is the updated price list to seal the deal. You check in the file cabinet—the folder is empty. No problem, you’ll just go to your computer and print off a new copy, right?
First you check in the sales department folder. Still no luck. You quickly navigate to the finance department’s folder, but when you open it there are 14 files called Customer Price List. You have 5 minutes left.
Now it’s time to panic. If you use the wrong prices and your customer finds out, they will walk away and go straight to the competitor. You will lose the sale and all your time will be wasted.
Isn’t there a better way to keep track of these things? How could you have prevented this situation from happening?
The answer is something called a Document Management System (DMS). It’s a digital way to organize and store files. If you had a DMS, you would have been sitting in the meeting room 10 minutes early, price list in hand, and completely relaxed.
Sounds nice, but how do you know when it’s time to make the leap to a Document Management System?
Let’s go over the benefits of implementing a robust DMS and see if it holds the solution to your business obstacles.
- Go Paperless
The first benefit of a DMS is that it’s paperless. If your office hasn’t gone paperless yet, getting a DMS will put your documents in a shared location in an organized way. With the same benefits that comes with simple cloud or server storage, a DMS gets rid of the need for paper files and a physical filing system. Every paper file gets scanned into the system and paper copies only get printed when absolutely necessary. This cuts down on a huge time-wasting administrative process. Going paperless also helps the environment by cutting back on paper and ink use.
- Save Space
Physical space in an office is gold. Moving your company’s document storage into the digital world saves a ton of space. The less storage space needed to hold paper files in an office, the more area there is for things like workspace, meeting rooms, or even free space to give your office an open feel. If you get rid of a significant amount of physical storage, your company could even think of downsizing the office and saving money on rent.
- Easy File Access
A Document Management System eliminates information silos. Information silos happen when departments work in isolation, store information separately, and collaboration is limited within a company. There is little exposure to other teams’ work, documentation, or even ideas. With shared file storage, everything is kept in a central repository, which naturally encourages better communication and access across departments.
On a server or “shared” network folders, documents can still get lost, deleted, or moved around. This causes frustration and wasted time when you are trying to locate a file. With a Document Management System, all the files you upload will get indexed. You can search for documents using more than just the file name or folder. You can use phrases that you know are printed in the material to find the correct document. You can keep track of documents and keep them up-to-date much easier. Updates are automated and there will never be multiple versions of the same file in storage. These enhanced features explain why a DMS is better than regular shared file storage.
Beyond mere file storage, a Document Management system has extensive functionality that helps with workflow. Once a file is uploaded to the DMS, it can be included in a workflow process. This makes assigning projects within the system easy. It tracks who is working on it, what edits they have made, and streamlines authorization. Workflow tools also notify employees when an assignment is due and makes sure a document does not get lost in an employee’s inbox as an attachment. You will never see the “When did you send it to me?” email again.
The added benefit of workflow as an integrated part of the DMS means that managers can track assignment progress and help to manage the files for their team. The process is transparent. A manager can link to updated versions of a file and all the employees working on the project will have access to it immediately.
- Better Collaboration
Collaborative work is when a Document Management System really comes in handy. With multiple employees working on the same project, there is always the issue of too many versions of the same document. Revisions are constantly being made and if somebody is working off an old version, it can waste a lot of time. Mistakes can not only cause frustration, but they can potentially cause real problems with clients who receive incorrect information.
With a DMS there is no need to double-check. Versioning and automation are built-in and employees always know which is the most recent copy. Everyone can see detailed information like who has worked on the document and when the last revisions were made. There is an audit trail, user permissions, templating, and a rich array of functionality that makes collaborative work a breeze.
- Security Features
The security aspect of a Document Management System is a feature that can’t be touched by traditional file storage. This is the reason that most companies get into DMS in the first place. At some point, all successful companies need to control who can see, edit, and remove company files from the office.
A DMS makes it easy to designate which employees have access to which files. Since every employee is given a username in the DMS system, they can each have individual levels of access. Access applies not only to the ability to open company files, but also certain actions. For example, lower-level employees can read files but cannot download them. This means nobody is stealing information.
Confidential records like HR documentation and financial information is sensitive. With a DMS, these documents are restricted to the employees who work directly with the information and remains off limits to the general staff.
For dealing with sensitive information, the security settings of a DMS also include advanced features like electronic signatures and data encryption. These security measures keep your company information safe, out of the hands of the competition, and most importantly make sure you are complying with the international regulations of your industry.
The final aspect of security that companies don’t often plan for is continuity of operations (COOP). A DMS gives you the security of being able to stay in business despite unforeseen disaster. Imagine there is a fire in your building or perhaps flooding affects your city and people can’t make it into work. The DMS spares your company from the destruction of files or from a complete work stoppage. In case of emergency, staff can work from home and not a single file or project will be lost in the shuffle. This is the kind of security that has an immediate payoff when you implement a DMS.
- Increased Time-Cost Savings
All of the functionality of a DMS benefits your company’s bottom line. Every single feature saves your business time and money. If search time is minimized, your employees have higher productivity. Streamlined workflow cuts down on waiting time for authorizations or wet ink signatures. Intuitive sharing capabilities makes collaborating easy, even for employees in different geographic regions. Security settings make audits pain-free. When you implement a DMS, your company’s time-cost savings will go through the roof.
Get a DMS that Counts
Clearly, the use of a DMS can benefit any business big or small. But not all DMS are created equal. So how can you choose the best one to fit your business? Business News Daily points out that it is crucial to match up the functionality of your business to the functionality of the DMS that you choose.
The Right Fit
Alfresco is one of the most popular DMS applications in the world, with 11 million users worldwide accessing 7 billion documents in the Alfresco system. Alfresco is an DMS system with cloud-based document management, collaboration, workflow management, imaging modules, and extensive security features.
Alfresco has caught on in many enterprise-level companies because it is user-friendly and powerful at the same time. Alfresco is one of the most flexible DMS on the market and integrates with all the popular office suites and software tools that are common in the business world today.
Alfresco is especially popular in the Asian market, due to its ability to interface in a variety of languages. A Thailand-based software company called Skytizens has developed a multilingual support module that allows users of the Alfresco DMS to work in languages besides English. Skytizens currently supports the Alfresco system in English but also in Thai, Japanese, and Chinese.
With the groundbreaking language module, Alfresco users can individually control their own language settings. This means that each user chooses their most comfortable language to work in without affecting their coworkers. In fact, with this module, many staff members can use different languages to access the same system at the same time. For a multi-regional company, this module is perfect.
Make the Leap to a DMS
Customized options like the Multilingual Support module can help companies decide which is the best DMS for their staff to use. Regardless of where you are located in the world, it is important to look for the right fit.
Are you ready to get out from under your piles of paper? Are you ready to make the workday easier and save money for your company? You can read more about Alfresco here or get in contact with Skytizens to discuss your company’s next step forward into the world of DMS.