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BY: ALEX SCOTT

The drive towards the paperless office was given a significant boost after the pandemic hit eighteen months ago. The increase in electronic communications has grown exponentially as the  working from home’ culture has engendered a new way of working. This has led to office space being reduced, and office equipment being mothballed, including fleets of copiers and printers. The subsequent outcome has created some environmental benefits, for example, the need for hard copy documents has reduced by over 50%.

The unintentional consequences has also reduced the need for equipment, consumables and toner. With the decline in hardcopy output, the increase in electronic document production has created a need to ensure that systems are in place to manage and control data. The brave new world of data protection is highly regulated  and there are heavy financial implications if data is mismanaged. Managing data, and by definition, managing documents, is acritical factor for every business. The pandemic, GDPR and technical innovations has created a perfect storm. It has been a game changer for many businesses.  It is essential to ensure that your company doesn’t fall foul of data breaches or non-compliance.

To avoid this, companies need robust document management systems. The correct in-house systems and procedures ensure that everything is covered when it comes to managing your documentation and that you are fully compliant. The reduction in paper documents combined with the need for the digitisation of legacy records and documents requires an alternative approach to manage the burgeoning volumes of electronic data, meaning that an investment in a Document Management System (DMS) is essential. DMS software platforms are used to receive, track, manage and store documents, ultimately reducing the need for paper. They should be capable of keeping a record of the various versions created and modified by different users  history tracking).

The term Document Management also has some overlap with other areas such as:

  • enterprise content management
  • content management
  • digital asset management
  • document imaging
  • workflow systems
  • records management

DMS systems have developed rapidly to a point where they can manage any type of file format that could be stored on a network. The applications also encompass data management requirements such as collaboration tools, security, workflow and auditing capabilities. They can also  save copies of the documents as images, and to store the image files in the repository for security and quick retrieval.

While many DMS platforms store documents in their native file format (such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PDF), web-based document management systems now store  content in the form of HTML. These HTML-based document management systems can function as publishing systems or policy management systems. Content is captured either by using browser-based editors or the importing and conversion of non-HTML content. Storing documents  as HTML enables a simpler full-text workflow as most search engines deal with HTML natively. DMS without an HTML storage format are required to extract the text from the proprietary format making the full text search workflow slightly more complicated and time consuming.

The  benefits of Document Management Systems

Document management software that turns corporate information and digital archiving into a business resource will help you become faster and more efficient, with more process capacity and security. It allows you to make the first step into the digitisation of business procedures possible. It doesn’t matter whether your data and electronic documents are stored on company servers or if cloud storage is being used. Many systems are intuitive, easy to understand and operate.  A document management system should not be  complicated but should offer straight forward access to all your data. The software should also be scalable, making it suitable for SME’s, medium-sized businesses and large companies.

The paperless office has taken a giant leap forward but selecting the most appropriate system for your  company is a critical investment, and you should take professional advice to ensure you make the best decision. For further information Business is changing rapidly, and it is difficult to keep up with a permanently shifting landscape. This is where external professional advice is  critical. Maybe now is the time to consider reviewing your approach to the benefits of document. Auditel’s leading team of independent Document Management specialists can advise companies on all aspects of document management, printing and copying.

Best of all, savings are waiting to be realised for you now!