Why use Document Management Software
There are many compelling reasons to use document management software as opposed to creating, saving and storing files on your local personal computer (PC) hard drive and / or (more preferably) your organisations network.
As mentioned on other pages on this site, a document management system (DMS) is a computerised system or set(s) of software programs used to keep track of and store electronically created documents and / or image files of paper based documents and should be well capable of monitoring the different versions of a document created by various users (version tracking).
Some of the benefits of using document management software:
Centralised Document Storage
One of the main reasons is the ability to central store all of your documents as opposed to having your data items stored on a users local PC or their personally allocated area on your organisations network. Allowing users to store files local, creates silos of data, which are not be easily accessed by other within the company.
Avoid Duplicate Documents
Duplication of documents is a major problem in any organization where files are allowed to be copied, adapted and then saved locally. These (potentially many different) local versions of documents can make it difficult if not impossible to find the current version of a document the user may be searching for.
Searching For a Document
Document management software offer the user the ability to look for files by its file names, user information and / or last transaction dates base on the assigned metadata information of the file. If indexed, the files content and comments on files should also be searchable.
A Documents History - Version Control
Currently, documents stored on your organisations network can be accessed, altered and manipulated by a user without any of these changes being logging or recorded as part of the documents history, under standard network file systems. DMS necessitate a document be checked out prior to alteration and then checked in, saving and most importantly recording those changes made to the document, thereby building an auditable history of the document . Utilising the version control process an organisation can view a documents entire history of including the ability to roll back to a previous version.
Notification of changes
The DMS can notify a management if a document is checked-out, modified, altered or renamed by sending out an Email alerting the manager that a new version of that document is potentially being created.
Workflow (a section of its own) is extremely useful where a document has to be signed off on by several other users. This utility creates a trail of users of the document who either, approved or did not approve the document.
A priority of any DMS is that it has high levels of security built-in allowing an administrator to allocate the appropriate level of access to a user, e.g. full, modify or read-only access to files and folders. It should be possible to identify Individual files and assign precise access control settings for a particular document or file allowing only a specific user or users to access the files in a folder, but specifically deny access to files in a folder they may not have rights to.
Utilising a central storage repository for your organisation many documents. which can then be backed-up as both a business continuity and security measure, is a great way to state your green credentials.
Current paper based, hard copies of documents can quickly and easily be scanned and stored in a DMS with appropriate metadata information assigned which will allow the document to be searched. All of the organisations correspondence, customer invoices and purchase orders could also be scanned and saved and can subsequently be searched for and retrieved without the hassle of having to going to a filing cabinet.
Document Management Systems