A Foxit survey of more than 3,500 business leaders found that just over 44 percent of respondents still use paper in their day-to-day office tasks. That comes as no surprise. Even in today’s increasingly digital world, many companies still rely on paper as a crucial part of doing business. However, that heavy reliance comes at a cost. While paper offers incredible ease for capturing and storing information, it also brings inefficiencies in office workflows. That’s where document management comes into view. By digitizing documents and working with electronic versions, businesses can push further toward the ultimate goal of the paperless office while enjoying numerous benefits along the way.
What Is Document Management?
Document management is a modern alternative to paper filing and a crucial step toward a paperless office. At the heart of it all is a document management system used to convert paper documents into digital versions. Once digitized, users can store, manage, and track documents in ways that would be nearly impossible with traditional paper.
Here are the three most important elements of document management:
- Capture – The first step of any document management system is to capture a document from a wide variety of sources, such as paper, emails, or documents produced by customer relationship management (CRM) or enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. These documents are indexed with metadata for easier searching and retrieval.
- Storage – Captured documents are kept within a central repository for later retrieval. Options include on-premises storage, cloud-based storage or a combination of the two.
- Retrieval and Distribution – The ability to quickly retrieve and distribute digital documents is paramount for office workflows. Document management systems use comprehensive indexing to make searches easier, while integration with CRM and ERP software means digital documents can be easily sent to where they’re needed most.
There are other key components to consider, especially as your business grows in scale and your needs become more complex:
- Security and Auditing – Data breaches can be devastating for your business, which is why any document management solution must feature rock-solid security and auditing features to thwart malicious actors and safeguard against breaches and malware attacks.
- Versioning – This feature lets users track changes made to digital documents within the DMS and archive older versions of files for reference and integrity checks.
- Annotations – With this feature, users can add or redact information without permanently changing the document. Administrators can see through redactions and control user annotation permissions.
- Integration – In addition to integration with CRS and ERP platforms, most document management solutions can also be used with a broad range of document creation software.
What Do You Have to Gain from Going Paperless?
For starters, going paperless is an excellent way of reducing desktop clutter. With document management, the age-old image of a messy office with reams of paper strewn all over the place becomes a quaint memory. Less clutter also means less time spent fruitlessly looking for paper documents. Another study found that the average person spends 4.3 hours each week searching for papers.
There are plenty of other ways your business benefits from document management:
Administrative tasks become faster and easier with paperless technology. Instead of relying on paper for invoices, purchase orders, and payments, those tasks can be handled digitally with more flexibility and efficiency than before.
Document management gives your business the upper hand regarding data privacy and security. Various DMS features, including encrypted servers and multiple storage redundancies, can help make your documents more secure by preventing data losses and security breaches.
Document management also makes it easier for your employees to communicate and collaborate. Documents can be shared for multiple recipients to work on. Employees can also access their files from virtually anywhere, allowing businesses to benefit from remote working.
Going paperless can also save your business significant costs over the long term. Keep in mind that the average office worker uses over 10,000 sheets of paper each year, resulting in an additional $80 in expenditures per annum.
With climate change a pressing issue, going paperless gives your business a great opportunity to go green. After all, transitioning from paper to digital helps save trees. Eliminating paper reduces the inevitable waste from lost and/or duplicate documents.
For businesses governed by HIPPA, Sarbanes-Oxley, and other regulatory environments, document management makes it easier to stay compliant. A trusted DMS can automate key documents and promote better adherence to strict record-keeping guidelines.
What Are the Steps to Go Paperless with Document Management?
The following roadmap shows how you can transition your office into a paperless environment in 90 days:
- Identify pain points that can benefit from being solved by document management. These include areas that require heavy human input and often cause bottlenecks in office workflows.
- Set up a leadership team to promote awareness and ensure that everyone from the C-level downwards is on board with the document management initiative.
- Map out opportunities for digitalization, noting how users typically capture, route, and retrieve information.
- Design a solution that works best for your digitalization needs and your business’s size.
- Deploy your document management solution in stages, starting with a proof of concept followed by the testing of iterations and a final, stable rollout.
- Document the entire process and record its impact on your business functions.
Ready for your Green Bay or Menomonee Falls business to leap forward into the paperless era with an effective document management solution? If so, get in touch with Wisconsin Document Imaging today and schedule a demo.