A Comprehensive Guide to Next-Level Document Management
How many documents do you view in the course of a business day? From payroll records to spec data and customer files to marketing materials, the business world is awash in 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:
- Enables fast, successful retrieval of mission-critical information.
- Provides significant short- and long-term cost savings.
- Frees up your human capital for high-level, innovative thinking.
- Eliminates the need for costly storage space.
- Enriches your data with AI and machine learning functionality.
How Document Management Systems Work
If you are 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 is capable of housing, classifying, and indexing mountains of data. Organizations with well-designed, cloud-based document management systems can add to their own, cloud-based instance any digital files they may have created or located across multiple cloud-based applications (such as Dropbox and Google Drive), scan paper files (either typed or hand-written) into the system as needed, 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 capability can make all of that information (rather 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. How so?
The average employee spends close to 10 hours each week searching for and gathering information, according to a McKinsey & Company report. "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 year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Worse, a good portion of that paper is for content that is either printed accidentally or never used at all. It's not too surprising, then, that fully half of the waste that comes from businesses is of the paper variety. Choosing a document management system over a paper-based method of information storage frees businesses from such 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 -- massive buildings that require full-time staffs, 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 -- 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 have a serious negative effect on a company's employee morale. This can lead to higher attrition rates, which means lost talent and increased human resources costs for organizations.
With an excellent document management system, companies can make use of automation that eliminates the drudgery of repetitive document management processes and frees up personnel for more important tasks. Ripcord's Canopy platform, for example, uses robotic process automation to do repetitive, often dull tasks previously done 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 easily send digital content into Canopy, where that content gets reprocessed using optical character recognition 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 and sending it to any connected platforms (such as accounting or HR software) an organization might be using. A top-notch DMS will make use of OCR to make its clients' professional lives easier.
Secure Data Better
Keeping a Himalayan pile of paperwork safe and secure is nearly impossible, and it is virtually a foregone conclusion that employees will misplace, lose and/or accidentally ruin important documentation at some point. A top-of-the line 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 solid document management system enables real-time collaboration, sends real-time notifications to users about changes made to documents, and allows administrators to set access permissions by employee.
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 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. That margin shrinks to almost nothing when the tasks are instead picked up by machine, as they are in a good document management system.
"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," Larry Long writes in a piece for 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 initial implementation of the software cost?
- How much will you spend in 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 such as:
- 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 have found the answers to these questions, it is highly likely that you will see that a well-designed digitized document management system is a solid investment that will pay off both now and in the future.