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When it comes to document management, it’s of course important to have reliable, cost-effective hardware, such as multifunction devices and multifunction printers (MFDs and MFPs), to solve the problem of how to print, copy and scan documents.

But this is only one half of the equation though. You also need the benefits of a document management system (DMS), such as an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution, that will connect and manage unstructured information from other business systems and documents.

A DMS is there to facilitate and streamline the handling of documents – how they are created, shared, organised, secured, accessed and archived throughout your entire organisation.

It stores files digitally in a central location, making them easy to file, process and recover when needed. This can vastly improve your organisation’s productivity.

Don’t allow your company’s productivity to be wasted on inefficient document management. Here are 6 benefits of a document management system.

1. Centralised document/file repository

Professionals can spend a lot of time locating documents.

With a DMS, however, you can forget the unruly stacks of paper on your desk, or having to rifle through filing cabinets to find what you’re looking for. Instead, everything is organised and stored digitally in one location, allowing you to easily upload, access, edit and share documents with your colleagues.

With a cloud-based ECM solution, this ability is extended well beyond the office walls, as the central document pool can be accessed from anywhere, at any time. Whether you’re on the road or in a hotel room, you can access the same functionality as you can when you’re at your desk, including being able to edit archived documents and store new ones remotely.

2. Streamlined workflows

Versioning issues occur on a daily basis. A DMS prevents versioning mix-ups that can occur when multiple employees store the same file in different locations, by allowing them to collaborate on the same document simultaneously.

This ensures everyone is working on the most up-to-date file, and the time that would have been spent forwarding documents and talking through changes can instead be directed towards more valuable activities.

A DMS can also offer version control, allowing for older versions of the document to be recovered in the event incorrect or unauthorised changes were made to it.

In addition, a DMS helps to automate workflows by recognising document types and assigning the appropriate workflow template. This makes document processing a breeze – documents are immediately routed to the next employee in the chain once it has been processed, without anyone having to get up from their desk, saving precious time and drastically reducing processing errors such as multiple data entry.

DocuWare’s CONTENT-FOLDER module, for example, effectively drives the invoice verification process by using stamps to automatically add documents to the task list of the next employee, requiring no extra work on the part of the employee, and ensuring no step in the process is missed.

3. Compliance is a breeze

A DMS makes compliance a much simpler matter, as automated workflows ensure record-keeping protocols are properly followed, advanced security measures ensures data is properly secured, and a centralised repository means documents can be quickly and easily accessed in the event of an audit.

Updates to regulatory requirements are also easily absorbed by organisations with a DMS, as it is simply a matter of modifying the workflows in the system to reflect the changes. This also helps eliminate the errors that can often occur when employees are getting used to new rules.

4. Increased data security

According to a recent report by IBM and Ponemon Institute, a data breach can cost a business on average AU$2.64 million!

Yet too often, organisations leave data exposed to theft or tampering, by, for example, storing sensitive information in unsecured folders open to the entire network, storing files on inadequately secured devices that are open to hacking, or even simply leaving documents in unlocked filing cabinets and drawers.

A DMS prevents unauthorised access to information using role-based access control, meaning employees can only access and edit those documents pertaining to their specific role, and which their managers have given them express permission to work on.

A DMS also records every change made to the document, so, in the event of tampering, you can see exactly who was responsible.

Disaster recovery is also much simpler, as every document is backed up to the system, ensuring nothing vital is lost.

5. Less printing = greener office

Sustainability is incredibly important to customers. According to the 2015 Cone Communications/Ebiquity Global CSR Study, 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than just make a profit; they also expect them to operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues.

A DMS can contribute significantly to sustainability efforts by minimising the need to print and scan documents. This cuts down on energy use; paper, ink and toner consumption; and even reduces the number of devices required by an office.

6. Huge cost-savings

As well as being far more environmentally friendly, moving towards becoming a paperless office also has a direct effect on the bottom line.

And consider all the room that is required to store all that paper. Bulky filing cabinets take up valuable office space, and this operational cost only increases year-on-year as the documents pile up. According to a survey by AIIM, respondents estimated that switching to an electronic-only filing culture would reduce the office space allocated to filing storage by 60%.

Digital document management for the digital age

A DMS is a huge asset to any organisation. The benefits of document management systems include allowing employees to be more collaborative, mobile and productive, and ensuring your business is agile and responsive enough to react quickly to fast-changing market trends, you can help guarantee that your business remains competitive well into the future.

A new ECM will change how people work and affect the way documents are managed right across your organisation. It's not an easy or quick decision to make, but our Enterprise Content Management Checklist will help you consider your options and identify the right ECM to meet your business needs.