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Why is document management so important?

For both private individuals and businesses, document management should be a high priority.

It has a wide range of associated benefits; it promotes efficiency, saves space, and decreases the likelihood that valuable or sensitive documents get destroyed or go missing.

However, many people have a potentially outdated view of document management that hasn’t caught up with recent technological developments.

Document management is more than just putting your pieces of paper in a coloured binder; let’s take a look at what document management looks like in the modern age, and why it’s so important to get it right.

What is document management?

Document management refers to the practices associated with the storage, maintenance and tracking of documents and files in a business or organisation. That being said, some of these practices can also apply to the files and documents of a private individual, especially if they have a lot of sensitive files that they need to keep track of.

Digital document management

Nowadays, document management is generally facilitated via digital means. Digital solutions enable the following functions to be carried out relatively simply, at a much lower cost than older methods of document management:

Security: Digital document management facilitates security in a highly effective manner. There are multiple different solutions, each with different degrees of integrated security, from simple password access controls to two-factor authentication. Different kinds of documents can be stored in different ‘locations’ and given different security protections, depending on their risk level. 
Storage: Digital document management provides a centralised storage solution where all documents can be accessed from the same location. For larger organisations, this can be especially beneficial, meaning that it’s no longer necessary to have a physical space dedicated to document management at the workplace.
Access control: Digital document management easily facilitates access control within an organisation. This can either be achieved by only giving the password to certain individuals, or by providing limited access to certain user accounts. Either way, it’s much simpler than older solutions for document management in organisations, which often involved handing out keys only to certain employees, or having to get certain members of staff to go get files for others with lower clearance levels.
Annotation control: With digital document management solutions, it’s also possible to easily edit documents, and keep track of those edits. Notes or comments can also be made, without the need to directly edit the document in question.

What are the benefits?

There are multiple benefits associated with effective document management. These include:

Secure storage

Ineffective document management means that it’s very hard, potentially impossible, to store documents in a safe manner. If documents are all stored together in an insecure manner, it means that anyone with access to the space they’re contained in (whether physical or digital) will have access to all the historic and present information related to your business or personal life.

A well thought out document management system means that you can provide special security measures for more sensitive files, while being more relaxed about the security of files that don’t contain sensitive information. It also means that you can store all of the files in a secure location, most often digitally, with added features that allow you to do things like share file access for a limited time only.

Increased levels of transparency

In organisations of all types and sizes, transparency is a common issue. From contracts to invoices, it’s essential that certain documents can be found simply and quickly at all times. A digital document management system means that any file can be found at the click of a button, with all employees having access to the same information at the same time.

This can avoid certain kinds of issues from arising in the future, while saving time and resources in the long run.

Increased efficiency

One of the most significant benefits of document management solutions is increased efficiency. People can waste a massive amount of time looking for documents and files, with 54% of office employees stating that they regularly waste time looking for files in cluttered document management systems. A well designed document management system should make the process of locating and accessing documents a lot more efficient, saving employees time and increasing their productivity.

Enable collaboration

A sophisticated document management system doesn’t just store your documents for you – it facilitates document sharing and collaboration. Working on documents together in real time, from different locations, means that colleagues can collaborate with far fewer practical barriers, in a secure online setting. By removing unnecessary email chains, sending links back and forth, document management systems save time and again increase the efficiency of the whole team.

Save space

If your organisation currently stores its documents on paper in a physical location, it’s likely that you’re wasting space and resources unnecessarily. While some organisations, such as law firms, might need to store some documents on paper, the majority can benefit significantly from making the move to digital solutions.

This will likely mean that they need to scan all their documents to create digital files, using a service such as Pearl Scan’s document scanning solutions. It’s quick and easy to do, and the long term benefits will more than make up for the short-term inconvenience of having to go through your paper files and organise them.

Regulatory compliance

In a number of industries, an issue of primary concern is that of achieving and maintaining regulatory compliance.

Document management systems make it easy to secure sensitive files and track who has gained access to them, providing an easy way of proving to any auditors that the documents have been stored and securely managed in a way that’s in line with industry regulations. This can be massively beneficial when it comes to avoiding unnecessary fines and compliance-related penalties.

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