Document Management Development

Document Management Development

Electronic Document Management - Why?

Irrespective of a company's size, most businesses have already adopted some sort of an electronic document management system, but they usually do not think of it in those terms. As a result, the system is often incomplete; it may include word processing, spreadsheets and a backup system for storage, but they rely on a number of manual paper document processes, as well. The documents may be distributed in a variety of ways, either by mail, fax, email or courier. The fact is that most companies already have a "hybrid" document management system consisting of paper and electronic documents which can be overcomplicated and include more costly manual processes than necessary. Any excessive expenses relating to documents are typically considered part of "the cost of doing business".

It is significant to note that these electronic systems were chosen because they increase productivity, and subsequently profits. But in this new age of technology, new tools are introduced on an almost monthly basis and many companies find they have acquired a variety of systems which have not integrated very well with one another. Of course, just to remain competitive and keep up with new trends, companies find they must continually research the newly emerging technologies and products, yet this can be overwhelming. So many variables must be considered, and often times executives may not be exactly sure how a new technology would be an advantage. It is at this point that some logical thinking might help, and the key question should be asked, "What is our goal?" The answer is usually, "Increase profits and streamline for the long-term".

It is essential that the goal is not forgotten when entertaining the thought of implementing new technologies, and it is likewise important to begin thinking in terms of enterprise document management because this title fully describes the concept of what was intended originally when the first computer was purchased. The concept of email, however, did not exist when that computer was initially bought, and as a result, it seems that the business world still forgets to include it today as an actual component of their document management systems. Yet each email message is, in itself, a document. A document is an instrument of communication. This instrument of communication requires a conduit or distribution mechanism, i.e., email system, just like other documents require fax, mail or an email system. Does it not make sense that the entire document creation, distribution and storage process be consolidated and managed simultaneously for maximum streamlining effect?

Because business document management needs have grown due to increased productivity following the advent of the computer, businesses have subsequently become reliant upon the computer. Most mid- and large-scale companies now employ their own IT staff, while the smaller companies outsource for their computer needs. The industry is enormous, and it is incredibly complicated and confusing to most business professionals born before 1970. Consequently, the prospect of analyzing the computer and document-related options for operational streamlining can cause most to suffer paralysis when it comes time to make a choice.