Meet John, a CEO of a company with traditional paper-based workflow. He is constantly losing the vital documents. As a result, his partners find it difficult to deal with such a disorganized person. On the top of that, the low productivity of the staff overwhelmed by the paperwork causes damage to company image. It is a gloomy picture. Is not it? However, there is no need to press the panic button. Three magical letters can make things better. These are DMS. Are you intrigued? Let’s discuss this magic bullet.
Reasons you need a document management system
Some creatives prefer the organized chaos. They say it inspires them to come up with the brightest ideas. However, concerning storing and retrieving the documents, the mess at the workplace is out of the question. The discipline and order prevail there. So if the search for a file turns into an intimidating quest, it is high time to equip your team with a stable DMS. It solves the following typical job-specific challenges caused by the abundance of paperwork.
Image 1. Business risks when you need to create a document management system, Ricoh
1. File damage caused by technical issues
Imagine the following scenario: your sales manager spent day and night on a presentation for a new client. He left the office satisfied. Coming back the next morning, he sees the document disappeared or even worse; it suddenly became inoperable. A virus attack or a major system crash is among the possible reasons for this mishap. Either way, the meeting is in half an hour, and the sacred file is beyond repair. Sounds scary, right? Luckily, there is a solution which can avert this catastrophe.
2. The stack of papers looks like the Mount Everest
The paperwork is an annoying issue for all companies without exception. The documents produced, signed, and exchanged between departments on a daily basis should be stored in a secure place. In practice, they are strewn across your desk, the desks of your personal assistant or other employees. The document management software allows leaving behind the long row of filing cabinets or cold repositories where secretaries spend their lifetime searching for long-forgotten accountant’s reports. Just think how awesome it would be to tackle the paperwork using your laptop or a smartphone. It is still a dream for many business owners, but not for you. We will talk about a bit later.
3. Team collaboration is far from great
Collaborative project work like updating the brand book can unite the team members better than any team building activity. However, this assumes an organized document workflow for the engaged users. The inability to see who edited the file and what changes were made, to track down the final version prevents from meeting the deadlines and influences the team’s microclimate negatively. The document management services become useful there. They leave no room for mistakes by showing the latest version. The out-of-the-box integration with SharePoint or Google Docs can only empower users to work with files simultaneously regardless of their location.
4. When data security is a primary concern
The leak of confidential information is a crucial issue in the modern society. Business is not immune to this problem. It is difficult to imagine the possible damage to an enterprise if the customer database falls into the wrong hands, e.g., to your direct competitors. The DMS for the internal use only with no access to the system outside the building and built-in encryption eliminates those risks.
5. Desire to save the planet
Conscious companies feel their responsibility for the environment. They adhere to paperless principles showing their intent to be more eco-friendly. Why don’t you follow suit? With document management services you have the opportunity to reduce paper usage in your location. Imagine, how many trees you can save throughout the year. Moreover, you can also save energy if you use printers and copies less frequently.
Image 2. Paper consumption per person, The Economist
Types of business that need a document management system
What are your ambitions? Have you already worked out plans for the next business season? You should take into account the current state of affairs and potential growth of your business when you consider embracing a new technology since it will affect your further cooperation with the software providers.
For example, the vendors will offer a cost-effective and user-friendly solution to small organizations and focus on security and enhanced features for big enterprises. Let’s see how the attitude toward the CMS is changing as the size of business increases:
SMB (small and mid-sized businesses)
Even the companies with less than 100 employees have business files of great importance that should be carefully organized, stored, and retrieved. With the annual revenue of $5-10 million, these businesses can afford a turnkey DMS system with the diverse out-of-the-box functionality. However, if the extended functionality, adapted to the specific needs of your company is required, there will be additional costs for some enhancements. They will not beat the expenses of the big enterprises for sophisticated Content Management System though.
SME (small and medium enterprises)
The bigger companies where the staff is up to 500 employees apply new technologies more willingly. As usual, there is an IT department with alfresco developers to implement document management software. Sometimes business owners still see the DMS as a potential training problem for the staff. The lack of in-house experts forces them to seek vendors who offer customized technical support and maintenance service. It is not a big deal because there are vendors on the market who provide staff training after the project completion.
The big companies with more than 1000 employees and the annual revenue that exceeds $1 billion solve the typical and specific content management challenges with the DMS system. Excessive use of emails, sending confidential data via messenger or chat, the duplicated versions of one file are some of them. Such platforms are designed for addressing these issues by storing carefully lots of previously unstructured and duplicated business files.
The list of challenges solved by a reliable CMS is far from complete. Not only different types of business can benefit from its implementing but different industries as well. Let’s consider this issue in more detail.
Top 8 industries in desperate need for the stable DMS
The power to save time, space and money makes document management software a lifeline for any business but especially for the following industries:
If you are in logistics, you know for a fact how hard your personnel relies on shipment information. All relevant documents involved in order and delivery process should be at their fingertips. The doc management system is meant to streamline the workflow. Logistics specialists can easily share and monitor all shipping information such as proof of delivery, receipt confirmation or supply chain requirements.
At all times education was the industry that consumed the enormous amount of paper. Every educational institution produces lots of student and alumni reports, enrollment forms, annual reports, and admission details. The implementing one single platform for storing all these documentation is no longer a choice. Its main benefit for education is improved cooperation between the school office, parents, and the external bodies (local authorities).
Healthcare is another paper-driven industry. The stacks of paper cause disorder. It is so easy to lose or misplace a vital document, for example, patient prescription. Without having it in time, a patient may receive an improper dosage of medicine that can lead to a fatal outcome. The DMS that guarantees safe keeping medical records and patient information, secure sharing of patient discharge instructions, e-prescriptions, billing information, and insurance details improves patient safety and reduces the number of legal sanctions against the health workers.
The Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released the report showing that the malicious cyber activity including the theft of sensitive financial and strategic information cost the US economy between $57 billion and $106 billion in 2016. As we can see, saving confidential information (e.g., tax information, financial records, business licenses, land-use records, building permits, and other sensitive data) becomes the primary task in this field.
Image 3.The need for document security, Canon Solutions America
The account statements and spreadsheets are carefully monitored within the company for fraud detection and prevention purposes. Admit it; it is pretty hard to control all financial paper flow in the organization without a document control software which can convert every incoming invoice into an electronic file with a unique identifier. It wouldn’t be too difficult to manage any records (receipts, vouchers, debit and credit, cash memos, and e-checks) either for accounting firm or departments. The digital solution with an option of advanced search, for example, greatly contributes to preparing accounts for the financial audit of your enterprise by the regulatory bodies.
As the volume of paper sales records grows, the retailers struggle with fast finding the necessary item. In its turn, the document mismanagement and the nonconformance for the movement of products within the vast supply chain lead to the delays in customer service. The retailers start contemplating the idea of an electronic document management system to keep the purchase orders, inventory reports, invoices, receipts, retail and wholesaler contracts, and employee records coming from dealerships in one place. Evidently, the simplified document audit will speed up the business processes and deliver enhanced customer experience.
The bank officers deal with the great number of papers including policy papers (rules, regulations, circulars, instructions, orders) which should be accepted for execution, intrabank documents concerning bank operations and services, bank’s regulatory reports, loan reporting, and accounting. It is getting hard to manage and provide per request any record without the DMS platform which fits industry standards and offers audit trails and robust data security. The proper digital solution will improve cooperation between bank centers giving those parties concerned instant access to necessary files.
8. Legal firms
The legal experts sometimes have to review the statements, abstracts of records and protocols retrieved from the storage in the process of progression of a new case. The absence of a specific record at hand hinders the lawyers from moving forward. The precious time is lost. Often, when the document finally arrives, it requires being copied to dig into the case all members of lawyers team at a time. The implementation of the DMS solves these problems. All engaged team members can get the access to the documents and can work on them simultaneously via out-of-the-box third-parties like Office 365 and Google Docs.
How to choose the best document management software
You have already seen some advantages of document management software by now. All that is left to do is to get back on the track and take specific actions that will lead you to the right solution.
Define your document management needs
Before you even start searching possible options, mark the business tasks that the CMS is aimed to solve. Bear in mind possible alterations of these challenges in case of the business extension. Discuss the current paper flow with the employees. What are their most common tasks? Is it the document scanning or review and modification of previously created files? Getting timely responses to these questions is crucial to implement the DMS with the essential features whether it is batch scanning, optical character recognition or easy work with the drafts.
Explore the basic software in your organization
Take into account an operating system used by your staff. This rule particularly applies to the on-premise solutions since each of them works correctly with only one specific OS. Look at the system requirements for the DMS you have picked out. If your computers have low configurations and low disk space, find a digital solution that would fit it. Check the compatibility of the chosen DMS with the other services and applications used in your company, especially with your CRM and ERP databases.
Check the compliance of the system with industry regulations
Every industry has the specific regulations that control the process of storing electronic documents. HIPAA for health providers, FDA for pharmaceutical and PCI for the retailers are some of them. The system you are going to install should be compliant with the regulations of your industry regarding the work with the confidential information. It is vital if you want to avoid judicial proceedings in case of security leakage.
Take care of post-launch support
At Aimprosoft, for example, the DMS integration comes with the post-release staff training. However, it would not hurt to inquire if there is someone for backup after a sudden outage. Suppose, you want to learn more about the particular option. Is there any training material (e.g., online help desks, guides, manuals, and videos) that will help you? What about live chat available 24/7? We know it firsthand how vital for clients to get assisted. We provide them pre-agreed manhours dedicated for the technical support monthly. It might be the perfect variant for any organization.
Focus on security settings
Clarify the security measures against identity thieves or disgruntled employees. Is it possible to restrict the particular departments from viewing the documents? Can you set a password for the specific folders or files? What about data encryption and multi-factor authentication? How are the e-signatures generated for the digitally approved documents? These questions should not be left unattended.
Pay special attention to the user interface
There is always a person in a company who is reluctant to embrace an innovative technology even if it promises to free him from routine tasks. Opt for a solution with the simple, user-friendly interface so that your employees with any background and skills could quickly understand how it works.
Why Alfresco is the best choice for document management software
Image 4.Alfresco Document Management System
You have already found out what makes the Document Management System such an irreplaceable tool. Also, you have identified the types of business and industries that can benefit from its implementation. You have become familiar with key points not to lose sight of which choosing the DMS. Now you might wonder, what is the best solution for all platforms offered on the market.
Over ten years our customers have been going paperless with us. We manage to do this with Alfresco Document Management solutions, and that is why:
Alfresco is based on the principle of open source. It can work effortlessly with any system or database. The high-quality and consistency of operation distinguishes this platform from other open-source software.
Alfresco Document Management System is famous for the out-of-the-box integration with the most popular third-party services including Microsoft Office, Google Docs, email clients, etc. Cross-platform nature, modular architecture, and openness of its components allow integrating Alfresco ECM with any existing infrastructure. If there is a need to implement an off-beat functionality, it is much easier and faster to develop new modules rather than create the product from scratch.
The open source basis of Alfresco document management software makes it possible to change the default functionality. A Spring Surf framework allows adapting the UI to your specific needs. Dashlets (modules) effortlessly extend capabilities. They are mostly used to display the collected information. Another win-win offer is custom pages for full view. When it comes to metadata, the flexibility of Alfresco enables users to add properties to the uploaded files apart from using the default ones. A wide variety of options are designed to meet the most extraordinary needs of the business with Alfresco ECM.
Reliable data protection
The authentication and the authorization guarantee the security of sensitive data. Alfresco supports different types of authentications. You can also implement additional modules for custom authentication types. If you need to integrate Alfresco with your employees’ database, the system has an OOTB LDAP support that simplifies this task. With a role-based security model of Alfresco DMS users should be authorized to access the business files. It is possible to register via invitation only.
When it comes to scalability, the main difference between Community and Enterprise Editions is that the latter supports clustering and has cloud versions. Both Community and Enterprise Editions of the DMS by Alfresco provide the unlimited number of the concurrent users and API sessions. The only restrain you can meet is the performance of servers and database you use. The number of active users and the amount of files define the required hardware capacities. For example, you need 2x server CPU (1xDual-Core) 30GB + storage for storing 1 billion documents viewed and edited by 20 users maximum.
The final thoughts
With Alfresco Document Management System, John definitely will be able to righten his ship. The documents will be carefully stored and accessible per request. The staff will be freed from the abundance of paperwork and become more productive. If his example convinced you to implement the Document Management Software, our Alfresco team is ready to hit the ground running.
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