Everyone will handle documents digitally in 2023. The thing is that keeping documents the old-school way would cost you $1,500 on cabinets alone. You don’t have enough space; this is not the eco-friendly way of doing things, and, above all else, it’s not efficient.
In other words, going digital is not even optional; it’s just the right way to go.
However, even in this field, there’s the default way of doing things and the right way of doing them. Everyone can make files and sort them by folders, but what happens when there are too many files and folders to handle? If you’re smart, you’ve already switched to a document management system (DMS) by that point.
To better explain document management systems, we’ll investigate their use. Better yet, we’ll quickly review some examples of how you can use them to improve your organization.
1. Storage and organization
Storing documents is more complex than just picking a folder to put your files in. Documents you commonly use need to be easily accessible, so if you plan to make folders within folders, you need to ensure that they’re not too deep in (or make shortcuts).
Then, there’s the question of security needs. Retrieval methods and encryption are two major issues for people who don’t use a DMS, while they’re a minor concern for anyone who does.
Finding metadata definitions, choosing proper tags, and handling all this information is another big issue. This will determine your ability to find any documents you need or find a way to sort them properly.
Also, without the right DMS, you must manually establish naming conventions. This doesn’t sound that bad but make one mistake, and you’ll have to open folders in search of the file in question manually.
Training your team to use best practices when handling documents is much work, but it becomes intuitive with DMS. Saving time and effort on this alone would be more than worth it.
2. Integrating with other software
Files and documents, on their own, are not as impactful unless you can find a way to integrate them with the other software you’re using. For instance, let’s say that these files need to be uploaded online a bit later. In this scenario, you would also need full content management software. Some platforms, like M-Files, serve dual purposes (DMS and CMS), which may allow you to circumnavigate this problem entirely.
Now, what if these files are files regarding your sales and customers? In this case, you must integrate the platform with suitable CRM software to extract its full value. Checking whether this is the case takes a few minutes and can be a determining factor when choosing which DMS to pick. Fortunately, most DMS is built with CRM integration in mind, so this shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
3. Collaboration and file sharing
The first reason DMS is amazing for file-sharing is that they offer a centralized repository. This means that you no longer have to keep multiple versions of documents. Instead, anyone you give access to the library may access the latest version of the file. So, if you give someone editorial access, they can easily see the latest version of the document and edit it further. This is also a great way to improve productivity and facilitate processes.
Another important aspect of collaboration (within the same file) is co-authoring and real-time editing. You’re actively promoting collaboration by allowing people to work simultaneously within the same file. This makes feedback and adjustments a lot quicker and makes for seamless updates.
This can make coordination easier because teams are mostly remote (even international). Most of these platforms can be accessed via any device (provided that the person in question has satisfactory credentials).
With the right setup, all project stakeholders will receive notifications and alerts. The program’s creator can assign access, and everyone can monitor the changes log. This means that if there’s a mistake somewhere, diagnosing it won’t be too difficult.
4. On-demand availability and retrieval
Instead of having to memorize the exact keywords or titles (naming conventions help here), you’ll get to find any files you need much easier. The search feature on these platforms is so advanced and relies on metadata (which is both convenient and accurate), allowing them to produce any file you need on demand.
Remember that not all of the documents you keep will be structured similarly. This means that the systems you use must also be intelligent. With the help of sophisticated filters, tag location, and saved/favorites systems, navigating your documentation will be a lot easier. With the help of a quick document search, you’ll have a much more efficient document retrieval system at your disposal.
Finally, even if you get offline (for whatever reason), offline access and synchronization (once you go back online) are standard features.
5. Security and access control
Lastly, these DMS have advanced security features. More often than not, enterprises keep their most sensitive data on these platforms, which is why the developers behind these tools have drastically improved security.
Access control is the most important way this is achieved (as well as something we’ve already mentioned). If you let unreliable people in on the project, you’re doomed no matter what you do. Suppose your employees are not the only people who can access their accounts/devices, using unsecured networks to send confidential files or keep weak passwords. In that case, no security measure can protect you.
In other words, as long as you instruct your staff and conduct at least some sort of vetting process for your staff, you’ll be able to avoid the majority of these security issues.
Using DMS makes your file management efforts simpler, more secure, and more efficient. All of these reasons would be good enough to make you seriously consider finding the right software, but together, they’re an opportunity you can’t afford to miss out on. Most importantly, this solution is scalable. You’re only going to have more and more documents to handle. The sooner you solve this issue, the sooner you leave it all behind.
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