Most of us get along fine, keeping our business’ file management in control… until we don’t. We end up with too many documents or too many processes, and it gets harder to keep our eye on the ball. Or maybe we start to suspect that, with all the capabilities of advanced software these days, we’re missing opportunities to save money and optimize with a better file management system.
You might start with a standard storage space like Google Drive, Dropbox, Sharepoint, and Box as a solution for document storage. But these platforms are mainly document repositories, whereas a true file management system (also known as a document management system, or DMS) helps you unlock a world of efficiency. You’ll be able to manage workflows and automate processes to get your work done in a fraction of the time it used to take.
Step One is to understand what activities comprise ‘file management’. You already organize, store, and manage electronic files. With a DMS you can also index files, control access, and manage versions—all in an efficient and systematic way.
Businesses increasingly rely on digital documentation. Finding the most effective file management system for you ensures seamless workflows. In turn, you can reduce your time spent on manual tasks and easily maintain compliance with data regulations.
While file management systems vary, here are some questions to ask when you’re researching solutions.
When you need to find your documents, it’s crucial that you’re working efficiently. In traditional document management, that means organizing files into relevant folders and subfolders so you can quickly locate and access the right documents. The struggle, as you start to handle hundreds, then thousands, of files is to maintain consistency across the organization and to enforce compliance with your filing structure. No one likes to be the document cop.
A correctly set up document management system uses metadata, or indexing information, to identify the documents and their contents. That way, no one needs to understand where a document is filed in order to find it. They just search for it using a keyword or pull a list of records that meet specific criteria.
Controlling who can access, modify, or delete files is crucial. Most online storage systems allow you to grant permission for files or folders. A robust document management system gives you more granular control. You can define groups of users and control how they interact with records—whether they can print, access, email, or edit them—even down to the level of metadata (that is, tagging or indexing information).
If multiple users collaborate on documents, version control is a must. It lets you track changes and maintains a change log that acts as a single source of truth. A good file management system provides version history so you can view previous versions of a document, see who made changes, and revert to an earlier version if necessary.
As the number of files and the need for digital filing grows, search functionality is critical. You need to be able to search for files based on keywords, metadata, or a file’s content, making it easier to locate and retrieve documents.
A true file management, or document management, system lets you do more than a document repository by automating workflows and processes. This can include tasks like document routing, approvals, retention schedules, and archiving. Automation increases efficiency and reduces the risk of human error, streamlining business operations. It also lets your organization maintain a competitive edge and scale quickly.
Document storage is necessary, but basic. A file management system goes way beyond a simple repository and lets you:
How your team works is unique, and you need a solution that's flexible to meet your demands. Maintain compliance, lower risk, lower the cost of inefficiency, and scale with a carefully chosen file management system.
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