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A Comprehensive Guide to Next-Level Document Management

How many documents do you view in a business day? From payroll records and spec data to customer files and marketing materials, the business world is awash in a mix of paper and digital records. The challenge for organizations is to unlock the power of the data those records contain. 

The right document management system (DMS) can make sense of the chaos and provide your organization with the information it needs to make sound business decisions that drive current and future growth.

The right document management system should:

  • Enable fast, successful retrieval of mission-critical information.
  • Provide significant short- and long-term cost savings.
  • Free up your human capital for high-level, innovative thinking.
  • Eliminate the need for costly storage space.
  • Enrich your data with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning functionality.


How Document Management Systems Work

If you're imagining a DMS as nothing more than a digital version of your legacy paper files, think again. A modern DMS is much more than an electronic filing cabinet; it's capable of housing, classifying, and indexing mountains of data. Organizations with well-designed, cloud-based document management systems can add any digital files they may have created to their cloud-based instance or locate those files across multiple cloud-based applications (such as Dropbox and Google Drive). They can also scan paper files (either typed or hand-written) into the system and even include audio and video files into the mix. 

Rather than simply scanning in those files, a robust document management system with built-in AI and machine learning capabilities can make all of that information (whether in the form of structured or unstructured data) instantly searchable with keyword, boolean, and filtered search technologies. When was the last time your warehouse of bankers' boxes did that?

Here are some significant use cases for modern, digitized document management systems:

Reclaim Lost Man Hours

At a time when organizations are talent-strapped and looking for ways to do more with fewer workers, document management systems can free up valuable man-hours. 

According to a recent McKinsey & Company report, the average employee spends close to 10 hours each week searching for and gathering information. "Put another way, businesses hire 5 employees but only 4 show up to work," the report reads, in part. "The fifth is off searching for answers, but not contributing any value.” 

A document management system provides instant access to searchable data and puts that fifth employee to more productive use, uncovering actionable insights.

Clean Up the Paper Trail

On average, an office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper per yearaccording to the Environmental Protection Agency. Worse, a good portion of that paper is for content that was either accidentally printed or never used at all. It's not too surprising that an estimated half of the waste that businesses produce is of the paper variety. Opting for a document management system over a paper-based method of information storage frees businesses from this unnecessary waste.

A DMS also frees businesses from the burden of high storage fees. If paper files are voluminous enough, as they easily can be in the case of large companies, they can take up not just a rentable unit or two, but whole warehouses. Such warehouses are often massive buildings that require full-time staff, utilities, heavy machinery, and pricey, long-term facility leases if not property purchases.

Focus on the Business

When a company isn't wasting time and money searching for needed information from among its volumes of data, it has additional time and resources to devote to its lifeblood: customers. Fruitless searches for data costs employers approximately $3,300 per year per employee, according to market research firm IDC. That amounts to hours of wasted personnel effort — an effort that could be devoted instead to higher-level thinking that leads to innovation and industry disruption, the kind of thinking only humans can do.

Outsource the Rote and Engage Employees

People tend to dislike performing rote, manual tasks that don't require much imagination, and having to do them can seriously impact employee morale. This can lead to higher attrition rates, which means lost talent and increased human resources costs for organizations.

With a modern document management system, companies can leverage the power of automation to eliminate the drudgery of repetitive document management processes and free up personnel for more critical tasks. Ripcord's Canopy platform, for example, uses robotic process automation to eliminate the repetitive and often dull tasks previously performed by human workers. 

Leverage a System that Learns from Its Users

Does the DMS you're considering get "smarter" the more you use it? Ripcord's Sync solution does. It allows users to quickly and easily send digital content into Canopy, where that content gets reprocessed using optical character recognition (OCR) and machine learning capabilities and is then converted into searchable, stored PDF files.

High-quality OCR enhanced with machine learning capabilities "understands" a user's data across a variety of document types and is capable of pulling out relevant information. It can then send that data to any connected platforms (such as accounting or HR software) that an organization may be using. A top-notch DMS will leverage OCR to make its clients' professional lives easier. 

Secure Data Better

Keeping a massive size pile of paperwork safe and secure is nearly impossible, and it's virtually a foregone conclusion that employees will misplace, lose, or accidentally ruin important documentation at some point. Your DMS should be highly secure, storing all of a client's data in that client's own cloud-based instance and allowing only credentialed, pre-sanctioned users to view it. In addition to password protection, a reputable document management system will enable real-time collaboration, send real-time notifications to users about changes made to documents, and allow administrators to set access permissions on an individual employee basis. 

Scale as Needed at Every Turn 

Another feature of the right document management system is its ability to scale with an organization. For instance, with Canopy, a business — no matter how large it grows — will never find that the amount of data it needs to have stored exceeds the platform's capabilities. A good DMS will be able to grow with an organization.

Reduce Errors and Risk

A significant margin for error is possible in any human endeavor. But when the tasks are picked up by machines, as in the case of a good document management system, that margin shrinks to almost nothing.

"People often have the best intentions in mind when they complete a task; however, they may bypass a process to complete work on time or eliminate a step to speed up a project and unknowingly put their company at risk," noted Larry Long in Forbes. "By moving specific processes out of human hands, methods are followed precisely, and steps are no longer skipped. Digital documents are bound to be more accurate, thanks to the ability to edit and collaborate on the document creation process."

Achieve Positive ROI

All organizations must be cost-conscious to some degree, so return on investment is an important slice of the DMS pie. Implementing the best-fit document management system can require a sizable spend, but farsighted decision-makers will be able to see the cost savings on the horizon. A sound cost-benefit analysis will likely reveal that the right document management system yields positive ROI.

To perform your cost-benefit analysis, consider the following questions:

  • How many employees in your organization use documents every day?
  • How much time, on average, does each employee spend on document retrieval and management?
  • How much money are you spending on storage for your documents?
  • How much money are you spending on payroll for employees who manage your documents?
  • How much money are you spending on paper, ink, file folders, etc.?

Then compare that cost with the cost of implementing a digitized document management system by considering these questions:

  • How much will the initial implementation of the software cost?
  • How much will you spend on ongoing maintenance, licensing, and support?
  • How much will you save by eliminating paper processes to the greatest extent possible?

Lastly, consider the opportunities afforded by leveraging a document management system. Ask questions like:

  • What revenue-generating opportunities can be explored with better and faster access to your data?
  • What insights can you glean from the unstructured data that has largely been unsearchable heretofore?
  • What can be accomplished by redirecting your human capital from repetitive manual tasks to more forward-thinking, innovative endeavors?

Once you've determined the answers to these questions, you'll likely see that a well-designed digitized document management system is a solid investment that will pay off both now and in the future.

Ripcord is on a mission to turn your documents into powerful data. Learn more about our document management system and how it can help your organization unleash the power of its data

Start making the most of your data today.