There are many reasons why an organisation may decide to implement a document management system. In general, there will be one main issue that a company wants to target but there are other key issues that will also need to be addressed and resolved…
Reducing the costs associated with managing and storing paper documents improves the bottom line and make it easier for your company to become eco-friendly.
The efforts of business to reduce its reliance on paper is relentless. Despite this work, the use of paper in business continues to consume efficiency. The cost of paper can add up quickly in an office environment. Paper comes in to the office, it is processed, given to the correct recipient, opened, read and dealt with, or handed to another member of staff for their attention; when it is finished with it can be disposed of or alternatively filed in a filing storage that consumes expensive office space.
Transforming these processes to make them digital can produce significant savings. Think about what is purchased: paper, ink/toner, filing storage, paper waste removal and printer maintenance for example. Now think about the hidden costs: the time employees spend filing, searching for files, moving paper from one desk to another, ordering more paper and related products. As an example of potential cost savings, let’s consider just one hidden cost. An employee earning £20 an hour walks to a records room, searches and finds a particular document in a filing storage, they make a copy of the file, deliver the copy to the intended recipient, then return to the filing room to re-file the original document and then return to their desk. This may only take ten minutes, but if this function is repeated six times a day, then that’s an hour per day of productivity spent moving and filing paper. That alone may cost around £5,000 per year.
As with traditional filing, not every document is important or needed. Therefore, rather than opting for a catch all approach where every email, document, presentation or image is stored for ever. Consider ways of reducing expensive server storage space. Only file, store and keep the information that is important or a necessity to the business or organisation.
Reducing the amount of paper being used can undoubtedly have a positive effect on the bottom line and additionally help the “eco-status” of any organisation.
The way in which electronic documents and information is managed, stored and made accessible improves the maintenance of controlled documents and eases the burdens of remaining compliant.
Red tape, bureaucracy, rules and official procedures… It doesn’t matter what you call it but compliance and regulation in business seems to be increasing.
Government directives, international organisations and other professional bodies, seem to impose more and more rules and regulations that effect business. And of course, all these are implemented with the very best intentions. These regulations affect business process and efficiency; the effects on how data can be used, how documents and electronic information is handled, managed and shared, how it can be processed and stored can be significant. Remaining compliant is a constant vigil. Having systems that help manage this electronic data reduce and ease the burdens associated with managing compliance.
If implementing an ISO or other quality standard such as ISO 9001, ISO 14001, ISO 27001, one of the first considerations should be how to handle the policies, procedures and other documents that will be produced.
ISO standards actually offer some guidance in clause 7.5. This includes:
- Each document must be easily identified– e.g., document name, unique number, date, author, etc.
- Any changes to documents are controlled and identified
- Enables the review of documents and approval
- Enables distribution and access
- Make documents available to those who need them
- Ensures confidentiality (only certain people can access/see) and integrity (only certain people can change)
- Allows various formats: Text, PDF, spreadsheets, Images etc
- Document storage and preservation
- Retention and disposition
Accountants, Insurance brokers, wealth management advisers, pension bodies and similar professions have to adhere to a multitude of rules and regulations, from HMRC, the FCA (Financial conduct authority and The Insolvency Service to name but a few. Directives such as the Money Laundering Regulations and others like the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) from other organisational bodies also effect these regulations. Companies in the financial service sectors are heavily regulated and generally have to be registered with authorising bodies and compliance audits are made on a regular basis.
General Business Regulations
Equality, Health and Safety and Data Protection offer further examples of where general business activity is subject to general regulations.
In one form or another, these rules and regulations become a part of the business process. Importantly, organisations must be able show and provide evidence of how these are being adhered to.
Business Process Improvement
– The proliferation of the sheer number of electronic documents and amount of information created has changed the way in which everyone works. It’s advanced the way in which this data is managed and processed and has kindled the development of new digital solutions to help manage and change working methods and improve efficiency.
Despite the fact that paper documents, such as forms, letters, notices etc, are still in general use, for the most of us create and work with electronic documents and communications. This transition from paper to digital has changed the way businesses operate. Over time, this transition raised issues associated with how documents, files and information are best processed, shared and stored.
Security of information and the ability to access data and documents is of vital importance. Irrespective of if the data and documents are live or archived, there is a moral and legislative responsibility for companies to protect the data they hold. The ability to access, view, modify, process or share the documents and information must be controlled carefully.
Collaboration & Workflow Processes
Being able to collaborate and share personal and business documents with colleagues and customers, especially across geographic locations is vital. Having the ability to access documents quickly and share them easily and securely allows people to work together and communicate in way they’re used to. Employees may need to contribute on a document at the same time or some provide electronically signed approval for a purchase. They may need to initiate a process by passing a document to a colleague so they can update some legal texts. The ability to process and share documents and information in a familiar way improves communication and collaboration and makes the creation and refinement of business processes easy.
Document Version Control
The control of master documents and how they are versioned is an important task for many organisations. However, maintaining and updating documents and ensuring information is current can be problematic. Errors in this process can have a catastrophic effect. How is a versioned document identified? How do I know this is the latest version? Who made the last changes? Is it approved by management? Can the original document or older versions be reviewed? None of these questions are easy to answer if a standard file system is being used.
With the mobile lifestyle of today’s workforce, knowing documents can be accessed – anywhere, anytime – is a positive and a given. If you have Internet access, then there are many ways to get that all important piece of paper you forgot before boarding the train: email, filesharing, messaging and remote access are just some of the methods available. Easily accessible and available to most, these methods and can save a lot of time and stress. Now ponder for a minute… and another… What types of information or documents are being shared, sent and delivered. From a business perspective, can these transactions be tracked and audited? Security and the sensitivity of the content transmitted must be thought about with great care. Business need to be aware of regulations like GDPR and MiFID, particularly in litigious times.
The time spent searching for documents and files, irrespective of if they are in a physical filing storage or in folders on a file system, is a waste. Having a means to quickly find and review files, then pass them to colleagues for approval, see the approval comments and then store or archive these for a defined period of time will undoubtedly increase productivity. Any business processes or workflow can become inefficient over time and therefore need regular review.