What is Document Management?
Document Management (DM) or Electronic Document Management (EDM) is the method by which a paper document (made electronic by scanning) or an existing computer file is indexed to a computer storage location for easy access by search criteria over the network or the internet.
- The ability to handle large and complex flows of information quickly and efficiently can frequently be the factor that differentiates the successful business.
- Traditional methods of handling paperwork and electronic files do not generally allow staff the speed of access to information that modern business practice demands. In addition, paper records are vulnerable to misfiling, loss, and destruction – accidental or otherwise.
- The solution to these challenges is Document Management - scanning paperwork to electronic documents and with existing computer files, efficiently managing them within an organised and planned system.
- Paper documents, once scanned into the system, can be viewed by staff authorised to see them.
Once in the system, these electronic images can be:
- sent to other workstations or offices
- e-mailed, faxed or printed
- attached/appended to other documents
- edited, e.g. the addition of an electronic “paid” stamp, signature or comment
- saved and indexed with suitable criteria so that they can then be retrieved using a simple or complex search.
- used for archiving for secure long-term storage & business continuity planning.
Five easy steps are all it takes to streamline and control all electronic and paper documents:
SCANNING AND FILE IMPORT. Accessible scanning & imaging technology now makes the transfer of paper documents into a computer, fast, efficient and easy. A scanner can be linked direct to a PC, or installed on a network, allowing several workstations to make good use of more powerful equipment. The better Document Management systems will also facilitate the import of other electronic files, allowing consistent indexing of all records.
2. Index / OCR (Optical Character Recognition)
FILE CLASSIFICATION. Indexing using customised cabinets creates an organized, well structured filing system and makes future retrieval simple. A well thought out indexing structure within a good Document Management system will be significantly more effective and versatile than existing manual procedures and systems.
OCR is another very powerful tool for filing documents. OCR software captures the content of a document, stores it in the database and allows retrieval by any of the word(s) at a later date. This is commonly known as Global OCR or whole page OCR.
Regional OCR (text captured from previously defined areas of the document) is also available.
INTELLIGENT ARCHIVING. Long-term and reliable document storage is one of the first benefits of implementing a paperless Document Management system. As a limitless archive, it accommodates growth and advancing technology. Proper back-up procedures will ensure that documentation is far safer than it ever was in paper format.
SPEEDY RETRIEVAL. Find documents quickly by searching for files using allotted index names (or parts of) or text within the document. One of the important features that helps to distinguish a good Document Management system is a powerful and flexible search function to aid retrieval for individual or groups of documents.
ADMINISTRATION AND SECURITY. Which documents can be read and what actions performed on them is dependent on the user permissions granted by the system administrator. Document storing, indexing and viewing should be readily available to authorised individuals or groups. However, flexibility to control access to the system is essential to safeguard the files within it.
These are the 5 core functions of an electronic Document Management system. The more advanced systems will include significant additional functionality and flexibility that can create opportunities for major efficiencies in electronic document handling and information management. The quality and ease of use of the user interface is also a major differentiator amongst Document Management systems.