Organization is a key part of running any business. Part of staying organized involves knowing where every important document is when it’s needed. As files mount for most businesses, it is necessary to have a strategy in place that keeps these documents properly stored.
To help with that process, more and more businesses are employing a document management solution that stores all of their files electronically, and provides the tools they need to organize, edit and share those documents.
“Small businesses with an overarching system in place to handle all their information operate at a vastly superior level of efficiency compared to those that still rely on paper files and folders,” said Greg Milliken, vice president of marketing for document management software provider M-Files Corp.
Even small companies that have most of their documents in digital form but in a traditional folder structure suffer many of the same drags on productivity as businesses with paper-filing systems do because they constantly waste time looking in several folder locations for misplaced documents, Milliken said.
“This is often compounded by the proliferation of multiple versions of the same file that results in errors and repeated work,” he said. “Without a document management framework, small businesses find it very difficult to enforce reliable file organization and optimize their internal processes.”
Jeff Segarra, senior director of product management for Nuance Document Imaging, said finding the right document management solution can really help a small business thrive.
“An investment in a good small business document management strategy has a meaningful impact on the ability of a small business to prosper,” Segarra told Business News Daily. “Innovations in desktop, mobile and cloud software and solutions create easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy document solutions that are cost-effective and productive for all employees of a small business and allow seamless interaction with both customers and vendors.”
Experts said businesses should look for the following characteristics when searching for a document management solution:
Works with your systems
Segarra said businesses should look for a document management solution that is compatible with the devices and programs that they already use.
“Document management software should be evaluated relative to its ability to work with systems in which you already have an investment — desktop, laptop and server solutions that connect and utilize scanners and multifunction devices,” Segarra said.
Simple PDF conversions
Businesses should also look for a document management solution that can easily convert files into a PDF format, said Jeff Pickard, president of Lucion Technologies, maker of the document management software FileCenter. This feature allows documents to be easily shared with other employees, as well as clients and customers, he said.
“A document management system that transforms documents into PDF files can also allow users to drag and drop pages to create new files and scan new pages into existing documents quickly and easily,” Pickard said. “This can significantly streamline a variety of everyday office tasks.”
Ease of use
Milliken said the success of a document management solution often hinges, to a large extent, on users’ willingness and enthusiasm to adopt and use the system.
“Simply put, no benefits will be realized — or, at a minimum, they will be greatly reduced — if end users resist the solution and look for ways to work around the system,” Milliken said. “Ultimately, usability should be one of the heaviest-weighted criteria for document management system selection.”
Businesses that employ remote workers should consider a document management solution that allows employees to access their files from anywhere there is an Internet connection, not just inside their office.
“If you have remote workers or mobile workers, then you need to evaluate a cloud and mobile strategy [solution],” Segarra said.
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Pickard said that when choosing software, businesses should look for an option that files documents in an organized way so they are easy to find when needed. He said some of the software options in the market today allow businesses to organize their paper files almost exactly as they would a paper system, using a virtual filing cabinet with labeled drawers and subfolders to represent accounts and products.
“You can also find files in just seconds using keyword search features, and with an advanced document management system, everyone in the office can have access to the same centralized electronic filing cabinet,” Pickard said.