What is Document Management (DMS)?

Simply put, Document Management Systems (DMS) refer to the use of a computer system to store scanned images in addition to electronic documents in their native format. The benefit of such programs, as opposed to using Windows Explorer, is in the advanced management and security of what essentially amounts to the information backbone of your organization. So where do you begin? First, just like everything in life, you need a plan.  

Current Document Storage Environment:Most companies are using a server to store shared company data. However, in addition to that, we commonly see Desktops filled with folders and files that are not being incorporated into this infrastructure. The first step in an electronic conversion is to assess where ALL the data is and to develop a "folder" or "label" structure for the core categories. Have your staff begin to move their data to these new server locations, leaving their local PC's "clean", while you continue along the planning process.

 Prospective Software Solution / IT Requirements:While All Business Matters offers a great solution to these workflow issues, there are a variety of great programs in the market with the most widely recognized being Microsoft Sharepoint or M-Files. Copier / Printer vendors also offer a host of solutions that will commonly integrate with some of your equipment hardware, allowing you a smooth on-ramp to get documents in/out for printing/sharing/collaboration. It is vital that IT is involved at this point, as this software will end up consuming a few hours / month of support time to ensure that it is configured and running properly. One of the most common mistakes I see here is a decision made by the business department, without IT involvement, that ends up getting shelved over time.  

Document Workflow Process:You now have your data, and you know what software you intend to implement to manage the documents. Now comes the most important part to ensuring the viability: the workflow. After a thorough review of the involvement of your staff with these documents, you should now be able to identify changes in intake processes at the front desk (medical), how client folders are maintained digitally (lawyers), or what to do at close of account (all organizations "close" out projects, accounts, students, etc...). This workflow accommodation will make it much easier for the staff to cope with the changes, and more importantly will ensure the accuracy. Implementation: Now the fun begins! Make sure you feel very comfortable with your vendor relationship and the installation should be fairly smooth. MAKE SURE TO GENERATE A SCOPE OF WORK, AND PROOF OF CONCEPT, WITH YOUR VENDOR in order to ensure that what you get is what you were promised. Allocate more than the recommended training time for 3 groups: the administrators, IT, and the end user. Make sure backup is setup in real time, and schedule audits with your admin to make sure that data is being accurately stored. For more information, or for assistance in realizing a true conversion, contact Chris Chapleau at 661-219-5160.

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