Document Management Systems – What You Need to Know






In the Information Age, it’s easy for organizations to get lost in a sea of documents. This makes it hard for employees to find what they need when they need it. Businesses communicate in a variety of ways: via email, fax, instant messages and online communities. All of these communications need to be maintained in the records, especially for healthcare organizations. When you’re saving all these documents and communications, it’s difficult to sort between what’s important and what’s not. Unmanaged documents also make retrieval more difficult. That’s why document management systems are more important than ever, even for small organizations.


Who Needs a Document Management System

A document management system (DMS) is a handy thing for any organization to have, large or small. For some organizations, however, it’s not optional. The government requires that companies working in some industries control their documents and be able to provide proof of procedures and policies. Some of these industries include accounting, healthcare, information technology and many more.


Why Can’t We Just Organize Documents With What We Have?

One of the most common questions asked about document management is why the organization can’t just use what they have and organize it better. Typical suggestions include saving documents in the existing system using a unified format. While that’s a good idea in theory, it hardly ever works out. Someone (or more than one person) will either forget the format or ignore the instructions altogether. It may work for an organization that doesn’t deal with a lot of documents, but for those that manage hundreds or thousands, a policy like that is difficult to enforce. That’s why you may want to turn to a document management system.


Advantages to Using a DMS

The biggest advantage of using a DMS is that it names and stores documents according to standard procedures as dictated by your organization. It will also track the date a document was created as well as the dates it was modified. A DMS system can allow the creator of the document to restrict who can read the document, edit it, or delete it.


What Needs to Be Documented?

For those organizations that are bound by law to control their documents, it’s not enough to simply have them available. You must also track actions or procedures taken on a document. These include changes and revisions and document approval. The document management system must be able to prevent unintended use of documents that are obsolete, unauthorized access to documents and unauthorized changes to documents.


What Type of DMS Does My Organization Need?

While some organizations opt for a networked DMS system, many find that it’s much better to use a web-based system. This allows employees to work remotely from their homes, while on a business trip or anywhere in the world. This type of system comes with a powerful search function to allow you to easily find documents in a matter of seconds. Despite being web-based, these systems also offer a high level of security and all documents have an audit trail so you can see what’s happening to your files at all times.


Steven Miller is an expert on document management system.

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