For decades, various businesses and government entities have struggled with mountains of paper documents that had to be carefully placed in storage so that they could be retrieved easily and quickly at a later date. The number of documents has continued to spiral out of control, sometimes exponentially, until many companies strained under the mountains of papers. Full-time employees were needed to organize and file the tons of papers and then again, retrieve them for viewing by those that needed them.
The government is famous for having lots of paperwork that had to be filed like the court system, school system, police departments, even the local water district is buried in filed papers. Then there are the hospitals, lawyers, dentists, nursing homes and various other medical professions that have to keep track of every procedure, medication, and X-ray until the end of time. Then every company on earth has taxes, employee records, invoices, and dozens of other papers to care for as well.
Nowadays, there are better ways to file, sort, store and manage documents using the various digital document management systems that are now available. Here are some tips on what to look for when considering one for your company.
When you start looking at all of the digital document management systems that are on the market, most are software oriented, and specifically made for one type of industry or another. Some of the better systems can be modified to fit various different companies while other systems will have interchangeable templates or other easy changes that will adapt the software to different niches.
One of the best ways to find a software that will fit your industry perfectly is to ask other companies in the same niche what particular software they are using. It doesn’t have to be a competitor, it can be another company farther up or down the supply chain with similar products, inventory, or document needs. Another point to make, especially in the medical professions, it might be a good idea to visit the local colleges or universities and see what the students there are studying.
In some offices, like doctors and hospitals, it would be important for all of the related associate doctors to be using the same document management systems so that documents could be easily sent and retrieved to other doctors in the same network. Plus, many medical records technicians will already be familiar with a particular system or two upon graduation from school.
The average small business really doesn’t want to be in the document storage business at all but are many times required to keep copies of all of their invoices for years. This can add up to a huge document room that needs to be staffed and maintained or, everything could be stored digitally from the beginning, easily searchable, and quickly retrievable, saving hours per day on the sales floor and eliminating an entire department in the building as well.
Then, when it comes time to settle up with the IRS at the end of the year, many of the best document systems will have a complete tally of what was spent each month versus how much profit was made, all at the click of a button. Inventory can also be managed in the same manor, the system can keep track of every product ordered and sold, set reorder times, and delivery times to make sure that all products are kept in stock in the required quantities and ordered right on time.
Many sales oriented companies need to keep track of all different kinds of sales in order to send them reminders on maintenance, inspections, and eventually new sales in the future. Things like automobiles are a perfect example. Each new car sold needs to be maintained on a strict schedule in order to keep the warranty in force. The document software can send every customer reminders each month when it’s time to come in for an oil change, tire rotation, or other service and free up the secretary and sales staff to do more important work.
In the same sales atmosphere, a company like a pest control applicator, can schedule people for re-inspection or re-application by sending an automatic email or letter in advance of a phone follow up. This saves the telemarketer from having to sort through thousands of pages of documents and instead they can get a complete print out in seconds with just the information they need to make follow up phone calls.
Serious problems can arise if the database becomes corrupted and all the data is lost. The best systems will now back up all data to a secure server, either on location or on the internet so that no data will ever be lost. Having everything in the cloud is now a popular option. There are secure servers that can be used for a small monthly fee so that you never have to worry about backups. Plus, by having them on the cloud, you’re protected in times of natural disasters, since the cloud server would be thousands of miles away.
In addition to that, many companies that have salespeople scattered across the US or globally, can have their database accessible remotely with special password protection to prevent hacking as well. This makes it easy for remote sales personnel to know what products a customer usually buys and in what quantities, plus have the exact sales price immediately available.
That way, just by using a laptop, any sales person can do their job without making a phone call and using up valuable secretary or sales assistant time in the home office. Many of the newer programs are coming mobile optimized now too so that they’ll work with the latest smartphones.
Most of the better document management systems that are on the market today come with a free 30-day or 90-day trial for the business owner to give them a good run through and find out if they do everything as advertised. Most will function as required, but some might have other bottlenecks or missing functions that are extremely important for your company.
Or they may lack the security you need based on the exposure you’re likely to have. In some businesses, the people in the field don’t have or need access to credit card data or other important information while some companies need that. Each different company will have to decide what features and benefits are most important for them.
In fact, in some industries, like the health care industry, you’ll note that they are all required to have special certifications like HIPPA and others since the data is highly secure and privacy of utmost importance. So the individual companies looking for data systems will have to start by knowing which regulations cover their niche and comply with the regulations that are required.
After you’ve narrowed your search to just a couple of systems, a good way to weed them out further is to go online and read the customer reviews. There you will find out if the software does what it’s supposed to and how satisfied other users are with the operation in their own businesses. You should also consider leaving a review for the system that you end up buying so that others may gain from the knowledge and experience that you’ve acquired in your search as well.
Every business will need to go through process automation at some level. If your business is in the process of automating, there are at least 7 process automation tips that you should know about. These 7 process automation tips will help ensure that the process automation you are going through runs as smoothly as possible.
Enterprise Content Management, abbreviated ECM, can be defined as the systematic collection and organization of a company’s information to be used by a specific audience – customers, business executives, etc. It is not a single technology, process, or methodology, but a dynamic combination of methods, tools, and strategies that are used to capture, store, manage, deliver, and preserve information needed to support critical organizational processes through their entire lifecycle.
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