The decision to move document storage from a physical space to a digital format is one that is, in theory, designed to make life easier for a business. There are the obvious benefits of such a transition, such as no longer requiring physical storage space for old files, as well as the ability to access documents from potentially any location at any time, thanks to online storage.
But aside from these basic advantages, a good electronic document management system must offer some other benefits in order to be truly useful. We’ve compiled a few of the essential features you should look at to make the most of a system you’re considering.
1 – Ease of Use
While it’s not a quality that is easy to qualify or quantify, a good, user-friendly document management system is critical. If the interface is difficult to use, and people cannot actually find the information they want without wasting a lot of time and experiencing a lot of difficulty, this defeats the entire purpose of the venture.
A good electronic document management system will come with an interface and user-system that people can quickly learn and use. A system with a lot of functional or technical benefits is still not a good system if only experts can use it, and general employee accessibility is shut out due to usage difficulties.
2 – Document Previews
When you’re looking for a real physical document, a listing or serial number a filing system is not always the most descriptive way to find what you’re looking for. In real world cases, it’s simple enough to go to a filing cabinet, find a collection of files, and quickly read through the first few lines in order to determine if a specific file is the one you’re looking for.
Good document management systems will include a digital equivalent to this by providing a document preview feature. This way, you can quickly use the preview feature to get a closer look at the documents and make your determination without needing to retrieve and open an entire file.
3 – Sharing & Communication
Another feature decision makers should look into is the ability to share documents efficiently and easily. Being able to designate different types of access to specific documents can be extremely useful. Good sharing features enable you to grant or revoke access even on your mobile platforms, such as your phone. In addition, through the use of integrated workflows this access can be permanent or temporary.
You’ll also want the ability to make remarks and communicate with others that you grant sharing privileges to. If a document needs to be discussed, changed, or worked on, ease of communication greatly and revision tracking facilitates these activities.
4 – Security
Of course, one of the biggest concerns that people will have about electronic document management is that only the right people have access to it. Physical storage is secure in the sense that as long as you don’t disclose the location or entry devices required, no one can find—let alone read—the documents you have stored.
In the same way, a cornerstone of good electronic document management is that security safeguards and encryption are in place to prevent intrusions, theft or unauthorized viewing of your data. All the convenience the world will not help with document management if it is not backed up by solid security and access measures. In addition, the audit trail provided by most systems enables companies to monitor access and spot unusually activity.
5 – Integration
A good document management system should enable your team to access supporting documents easily while in the business applications that they normally uses every day. Integration with email, Microsoft Office and your accounting system or other line of business system enables the team to access supporting documents simply by right-clicking the mouse or entering a hot-key sequence. Automatic ingestion and classification of inbound email provides instance access, and avoids many of the downfalls of using email rules or manually managing inbound emails.
Strong integration to business systems will save time and money. It will also ease the transition from your current system to the new document management system. In the best systems many users are not even aware that there is a separate document management system due to the level of integration they provide. CASNET’s document capture software integrates with over 60 ECMs, including Microsoft SharePoint and CASNET’s eSAFE. To learn how CASNET can optimize your existing ECM, contact us today.