A couple of months ago, my dad picked up a multifunction machine; meaning it has the ability to fax, copy and print— and it does it all wirelessly. The wireless ability of the multifunction machines are hugely beneficial, especially for people with laptops. After just a few minutes of using wireless scanner he had an epiphany, he realized very quickly that all of his important documents could be scanned in and stored on his computer and then retrieved whenever he needed them.
For me, the process was instructional because I’ve been scanning in documents and storing them on my system since 1996. Back then, scanner didn’t have auto document feeder’s. Correction, yes they did, but they were highly expensive; companies and corporations were the only ones who are actually using this technology and it was mostly used with multifunction machines and fax machines.
As my dad started pondering all the things that he could start scanning in, like his birth certificate and his taxes, and I started to realize that I really hadn’t taken the time to summarize some of the benefits of using electronic document management… so here they are…
One of the first things that people need to understand about document management is the economic savings of scanning documents and maintaining them in an electronic form. By electronically filing away your documents, you don’t have to maintain the physical filing cabinets. There may be a need to maintain a physical filing cabinet, but is not to be in the traditional manners; constantly taking information in and out… for the most part documents will only be going into the filing cabinets.
The immediate savings of electronic document management is the retrieval of those documents. The ability to retrieve those documents and e-mail them, or fax them, or even show them to a customer, is highly beneficial. And most of the time you can do those types of functions without even having to print out those documents again, another savings, by not having to use more paper. The amount time that you save on retrieving documents is clearly predicated on the amount of information that you put into filing, naming and providing indexes the documents that you are scanning; this is the front side of document management that there needs to have a clear organizational structure and approval process.
There’ve been several studies about how much time is saved by having electronic versions of documents versus people physically having to get up, go to a filing cabinet, locate the folder, locate the document and retrieve it for simple viewing purposes. This is in huge contrast to simply typing in an account number or typing in a keyword.
By having electronic versions of documents, this also means that multiple individuals can work collectively, and in concert, to maintain a customer’s account, checking out documents, updating documents and helping customers quickly.
Archival And Disaster Recovery
Considering that a standard CD-ROM disc can maintain close to 20,000 scanned images, and physical filing cabinets would not have to be located on site anymore, entities that decide to use electronic document management are more apt to have access to their documents immediately after a disaster type situation. Electronic documents can be backed up to physical media like CDs or DVDs, or even an off-site storage facility.
Another added benefit of handing mature documents is knowing when those documents are no longer valid, most document imaging systems have the ability to tag a document with a expiration date; knowing when to get updated versions of documents from customers.
The physical copies of documents that are stored in the cabinets; if those are destroyed, you’ll have electronic versions of those documents and still be able to continue with your daily operations. Recovery of official documents with signatures and certifications can be identified and then rebuilt with the customers without having to guess and audit every customers account.
With current technology and the current regulatory guidelines in regards to electronic documents, customers can sign documents electronically, the documents to me password-protected and viewing of those documents can be encrypted.
Feeling The Benefits
The benefits from electronic document management can only really be felt by those institutions who really embrace the process and usage of electronic document management. I mentioned earlier about having a organized process for scanning and entering documents for later retrieval; this is one of the biggest things, one of the most important things, that needs to happen with document management… Any application can be written to perform a myriad of functions, but it’s up to the individuals, the users, to use that system. If the system is put in place is not used properly then it’s not going to be any good to anyone…
A properly use document management system will reap huge benefits for the person or the company that decides to use it; not only in raising the customer satisfaction levels within the company, but also seeing benefits and productivity and with efforts in going green. Office personnel, or users, will spend less time looking for documents, less time managing documents, and less time composing in managing regulatory compliance and audit inquiries.
As the world continues to move forward with imaging technology, touchscreens and electronic documents, more and more people will start seeing more commonly tablets or signature pads to sign contracts, open accounts and various other official requirements. All these things will be replacing the standard physical documents that we work with everyday. The sooner people start embracing the process of document management, the better off they’re going to be.
Getting started with electronic document imaging is actually not that hard. Most scanners come with a standard scanning package. If you don’t have a formal document management software package, they can simply scanned documents to TIFF, JPEG and PDF formats as a standard industry format for storing documents. Most standard document management systems handle these formats, but again, it’s important to make sure that if there’s no formal document management system in place, to make sure that the documents that are being stored are tagged with some sort of indexable information.
If you start using document management to keep your important information readily available, you’re going to see the benefits the first time that you need to pull it document…
I hope this helps…
Larry Henry Jr.
…via Dragon NaturallySpeaking 11