8 Reasons Why Document Management Should be at the Top of the Agenda

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Tagged in: Document Management , DMS

This article should be of interest to anyone struggling to keep control of their organisations documents.  Typically this means finding documents on network file stores and within emails.

1.       So you find a document on the network, copy it to your PC and start editing it.  A little later a colleague does exactly the same thing.  You save the document and replace the existing one.  So does your colleague.

2.       To get around the issue of your document being overwritten, you save the new file with a different name (e.g.  Product_details_v2_final_final2.pdf).  Except colleagues have already set a favourites link to the original document and open the older document.

3.       A colleague deletes a document on the network they shouldn’t have deleted.

4.       You wrote a great article last week but can’t remember where you saved the document or the filename you saved it under.  You’ve now got to look through 1000’s of folders on the network.

5.       A client gives you a sensitive document that should be stored securely and only visible to key personnel.

6.       You’re working on a document and need to notify key people of its existence so you email it out to everyone.  They now have their own soon-to-be-out-of-date copies.

7.       You have to expose your network to the outside world in order to give your remote workers access to files on the network.  Connecting is slow so remote workers work on local copies that become out of date.

8.       Documents are not visible when looking up a contact in your company CRM database.

If any of these issues ring true to you then invest time in researching Document Management Systems (DMS).  DMS’s have been around for a while now but have needed a large IT infrastructure to set up and maintain.  As a result the investment costs have been too high for the smaller business.  However, with the advent of Cloud-based computing the cost of implementing a good DMS is very low.  In fact it can only take one lost or accidently overwritten document to pay for itself 10 times over.

So, how can a DMS help overcome the issues mentioned above?  Let’s take each point in turn…

So you find a document on the network, copy it to your PC and start editing it.  A little later a colleague does exactly the same thing.  You save the document and replace the existing one.  So does your colleague.

With a DMS you have a ‘check in/out’ process.  This means that when you edit a document in the DMS it becomes ‘locked’ until you say you have finished editing it.  Therefore other people won’t edit it while you do.  They can see who is editing it and therefore use this knowledge to maybe contact the editor or simply wait.  The bottom line is that nothing is ever accidentally overwritten.

To get around the issue of your document being overwritten, you save the new file with a different name (e.g.  Product_details_v2_final_final.pdf).  Except colleagues have already set a favourites link to the original document and open the older document.

A DMS has built-in version control.  There is no need to keep a long list of the same-ever-so-slightly-different document which confuses people.  The DMS will ensure everyone is given the latest version of a document.  If the latest version needs to be replaced with a previous version you can go back and view all previous versions.

A colleague deletes a document on the network they shouldn’t have deleted.

Enforcing control on a network requires high maintenance from your IT department.  How do you give each worker delete rights in some folders but not in others on your network?  Moreover, some folders may need to be hidden from view for certain groups of workers.  Or read only to others.  A DMS helps manage security enabling you to grant read/write permissions to individuals or groups of users.

You wrote a great article last week but can’t remember where you saved the document, nor can you remember the filename you saved it under.  You’ve now got to look through 1000’s of folders on the network.

A DMS have a powerful search facility that can look inside all documents for any word or phrase you enter.  Or you might run an advanced search that looks for any document created by you in the last 24 hours (to do with Salmon fishing).  So, if you can remember part of the content your chances of finding the document are high. But that’s not all.  A DMS has a ‘tagging’ system which enables you to associate keywords or phrases alongside the document.  A ‘Tag Cloud’ system helps you find the document (and any related documents) very quickly.  For example, this document is ‘tagged’ with the keyword “DMS”. I just need to select the “DMS” tag and any documents in the DMS with this Tag will be listed. 

A client gives you a sensitive document that should be stored securely and only visible to key personnel.

If your business needs to deal with the occasional sensitive document then you will probably keep the document on your own PC and not store it on an open network.  If you have other colleagues that need to see the document then you might email a copy to them.  Where do they keep the copy?  How secure is email in transit?  Are the mail server mailboxes visible to people including your IT dept.?  Using a DMS you can ensure documents and folders are only visible to named individuals or groups.  You simply place the document in the secure area.

You’re working on a document and need to notify key people of its existence so you email it out to everyone.  They now have their own soon-to-be-out-of-date copies.

Using a DMS you store the document in a folder and email a link to it to selected people.  Those recipients will have access to the latest version of that document.  Using the DMS people can participate and discuss documents.  All notes, comments and revisions can be accessed all from the document.

You have to expose your network to the outside world in order to give your remote workers access to files on the network.  Connecting is slow so remote workers work on local copies that become out of date.

Ideally you’d like to see a Windows-Explorer style folder system available on-line over the web where remote workers can access documents safely and securely.  This is what a web-based DMS offers.  Everyone has access to the latest material wherever and whenever they need it.

Documents are not visible when looking up a contact in your company CRM database.

Last - but certainly by no means least – all these documents that sit in various folders on your PC and network are not immediately accessible when accessing your customer information.  You have a disjointed information system as a result.  Go here for contact details and go there for signed commercial agreements and so on.  In fact most DMS’s fall short in this area because they are document-centric systems and not people-centric.  This is why it is important to consider your corporate database when sourcing a DMS and tie the two together.

 

About SouthwestCRM

SouthwestCRM supplies European organisations with best of breed business-critical software.  Its UK office develops its own products that enable leading systems to work together seamlessly.  Founded in 2007, SouthwestCRM is an Authorized Partner for KnowledgeTree© Document Management System and Bronze Partner for SugarCRM Customer Relationship Management system.  Further information about the company and its services can be found here

Author:  Simon Leek, Founder of SouthwestCRM has worked with CRM and DM Systems for the past 21 years providing advice and guidance to all industry sectors and public bodies.  Simon believes the single most important key driver in a successful deployment is always the end users buy-in and this means easy to use and intuitive solutions to address their individual operational needs.