A document management system helps you manage the constantly accumulating
volume of documents. Documents have a habit of proliferating in any
business. Correspondence, invoices, bills, blueprints, process charts,
organization charts, photographs, product specifications, production
plans, accounts, budgets and numerous other documents could soon make
Storage: How could you save on space, equipment cost
and staff for storing all the documents?
Organization: As indicated in the opening paragraph,
the variety of documents is bewildering. How do you classify and sub-classify
these to facilitate easy retrieval later?
Finding Needed Documents: As documents accumulate,
you have to physically arrange them in a way so that you could find
a particular document quickly when needed.
Workflow Issues: In a business, documents typically
pass from person to person before they finally find a resting place.
How could you facilitate the movement and economize on incidental costs?
Procedures: Who should see each document? What could
they do with it? Instructions and safeguards have to be in place.
Collaborative Working: When a document requires contributions
from several persons, how could the collaborative document creation
process be made easier?
Security Concerns: You don't want unauthorized persons
to access your business documents. Even authorized persons should not
be able to tamper with these without being detected. How do you ensure
Preservation: All physical documents deteriorate over
time. They could also get damaged or lost in a fire or other disaster.
How could you preserve them in usable condition as long as necessary?
Policies: Policy decisions and clear instructions
are needed on issues like the length of time for retaining each type
of document and what to do with expired documents.
As would be evident from the above, document management is not a simple
task. Physical, organizational, procedural and policy issues are involved
even in a small business.
Document management issues are complicated further by several regulatory
requirements. You have to keep certain kinds of records under employment,
health & safety, tax and other regulations. These often have to
be maintained in a government-determined format.
How do you comply with the regulatory requirements and yet keep costs
to a tolerable level?
To help you cope with the document related issues discussed earlier,
document management systems - DMS - have appeared in the market. Computerized
DMS provides an entirely new dimension of paperless (or more realistically,
paper-minimized) document management.
We will look at each of the document management issues, and how DMS
handles these, in separate articles.