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Document Management - And What That Means In Practical Terms

By Author: Donald Nason
Total Articles: 4

Essentially document management means taking the paper out of document-centric processes, and sometimes that’s enough to enable an organisation to reduce costs and achieve greater working efficiency. However, coupling document management with workflow to automate subsequent procedures can lead to even lower overheads and further streamlined efficiency.

Regardless of industry and across business departments, it’s seldom that it’s not a document that kick-starts a process – a purchase requisition, sales order, customer services letter – and still often paper-based.
Issues affecting departments bowing under a weight of paper are well catalogued: access limitations, labour-intensive processing, high stationery, printing, postage and storage costs, and lack of visibility and control.

Converting the paper to electronic format through scanning can help remove these issues, and incorporate compliance and audit requirements as well as eliminating risk of loss. Validation criteria can be specified, authorisation levels defined, and in electronic format a document is available 24/7 from anywhere in the business.

Once scanned, paper documents can be processed within the same system as those received electronically – meaning consistent processing across a department – and in electronic format documents can be processed through automated workflow. Benefits this brings include swift and effective routing, efficient processing, and better adherence to business rules, while freeing staff from mundane processing jobs to concentrate on strategic tasks.

Powerful BI (business intelligence) tools provide the management information to monitor KPIs and identify processing bottlenecks.

A document management and workflow solution improves efficiency with a better document turn-around time and faster processing cycles, and a cost justification exercise will calculate whether implementing a solution will deliver a return on investment – identifying the cost of existing processing, reviewing alternative processes, and evaluating relative costs and feasibility.

But it’s also important to look at the other side of the coin and evaluate the cost and risks of keeping to an old system – delaying vital purchases because requisition approval or supplier verification takes too long, or continuing to burden a customer services department with a disjointed process, no immediate access to relevant documentation, and without a history trail to record document touch points and who’s done what when.

When (ex)-customers can take to social media to vent their frustration in an instant, organisations need to be able to match that speed and efficiency.

According to the Chartered Institute of Marketing it costs between four and 10 times as much to acquire a new customer as to keep an existing one.

Initially document management solutions were seen as the preserve of the multi-nationals and global conglomerates. The market has, however, been growing and increasingly mid-tier organisations are seeing the advantages of moving to automated document management systems.

The arrival to the market of these mid-tier organisations is partly due to document management providers utilising experience built up over the years to be able to drive down entry costs.

With solutions that are scalable in size, flexible and modular, organisations can invest in functionality to meet individual need – and add to their solutions as processing and business requirements change.

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