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Document Management?

Posted by documentmanagementsystem on August 17th, 2019

Ask people what software (if any) is being used for “document management” and they will reel off various product names and, invariably “Windows Folders” gets a mention too.

However, these are not document management products – they are documented storage. They are simply places where files are placed in much the same way as physical documents would be placed in hanging files in a filing cabinet.

The electronic storage does offer many advantages over physical files:

  • Search – the ability to sort by type, date, name, etc.
  • Space-saving – no expensive floor area used by filing cabinets or needed for storage and archiving of paper documents and files
  • Cost saving – reduction in the use of paper, toner and other direct costs, no filing cabinets to buy, etc.
  • Security – the ability to back up the electronic files (offsite or to the cloud if required)

However, anyone (surely everyone?) that has used Windows Folders to store documents soon finds shortcomings. Which folder was a document saved in? Having to manually create a new folder for every client for each financial year? Inadvertent deletion of files or even whole folders? Accidental dragging and dropping of files or even whole folders? Drilling down through multiple sub-levels to get to the required document?

As the numbers of customers or clients grow, this quickly becomes more and more unwieldy.

What advantages does a true document management product offer?

A document management solution also offers file storage but in a more structured but less rigid format. By “tagging” documents when saving (effectively indexing them), the ability to filter searches is far more flexible.

With text extraction in place when files are saved, all the text becomes searchable too, across a client, a range of clients or the whole database. This is similar to a Google search.

There are no workflows in document storage. In a document management system, a document can be tagged for different actions by different people – for information, or for action. An audit trail is also available. Any un-actioned documents can also be viewed – no more wandering around the office looking in people’s paper-based in-trays to see what is outstanding.

Alerts can also be triggered if documents are not actioned within a specified time period.

Documents can often require input and updating from different people. Which version is the most up-to-date? Checking a document out to work on it and checking it back in again when finished editing creates versions. All previous versions are available to view if needed, but the latest is the default one to view in the first instance.

Also See: Document Management, Windows Folders, Whole Folders, Rigid Format, Document, Files, Documents

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