A document management system (DMS) is a method of managing, storing and retrieving all the documentation a business uses every day. But it can be much more than that. A DMS can and should function as a central organising tool for all your business needs. It can save you time and money. It can eliminate information silos. It can help you with compliance and collaboration.
How can a document management system (DMS) benefit my company?
“A man is only as good as his tools"
Forget the everyday sexism, old Emmert Wolf had a point.
And while today those tools are more likely to be software, than spanners and saws, the tools you choose to work with are still key to getting the best results.
They should enable you to work more efficiently, and assist you in enhancing the quality of your output.
Here are eight questions you might have about how a DMS can benefit your business, making the process of controlling and sharing critical documents both efficient and cost-effective.
1. How can a DMS help me with compliance?
Many compliance certifications (like ISO 9001 or ISO 13485) can be complex. Paper-based systems and more simplistic cloud repositories just don’t have the power to meet these compliance requirements.
Document management systems empower enterprises to tick the boxes that demonstrate regulatory compliance, with improved visibility and control. The best DMSs let you graphically depict business process flow on your company intranet, which allows you to take a risk-based approach to quality processes. You can show auditors exactly what they need to see at the click of a button.
Failure to meet industry compliance regulations can result in fines and reputational damage. Having a system that naturally instils process compliance mitigates this risk.
A closer look at document control for ISO 9001
2. How can a DMS make my documents secure?
Naturally, when your documents are stored in a secure common repository, they are more protected. A DMS minimises the risks associated with cyber-attacks and hackers infiltrating the system. As a result, all documentation is immediately less accessible to malicious hackers and third parties.
Security and release management is vital in high-tech product development. A DMS provides an extra layer of control through granular access and dedicated partner login, empowering you to securely share controlled information with customers and suppliers.
The electronic storage and backup systems provided by a DMS mean that all of your most sensitive files are safe even in the event of commercial disasters. Businesses of all sizes can be confident that preliminary security structures are in place to ensure they can recover safely when things don’t go to plan.
3. How can DMS search functions save me money?
The volume of documents that traverse a business every day can be substantial—and the associated costs even more so.
According to Meridian, it costs approximately $20 to file a document, $120 to find a misfiled document and $220 to reproduce a lost document. With a search function integrated into your document management tool, these costs are largely mitigated, and the retrieval of documents is simple and fast. What’s more, you can be sure staff are retrieving the correct version of a document as a search facility helps find documents related to a specific subject or iteration.
4. How will a DMS make my documents more discoverable?
Constantly trying to find documents can waste huge amounts of time.TechRepublic reported that "more than 50% of office pros spend more time searching for files than on work". There is, therefore, a huge opportunity cost of not using a document management system, which includes constraining growth potential and negatively affecting productivity.
By using a document management system, companies are facilitating their employees' access to files through keyword and phrase search. Moreover, in today's globalised world, remote access to documents is paramount.
5. How will a DMS support my product development lifecycle?
How difficult is it for you to set up new structures with your current system? Using a DMS that can integrate with R&D tools will support your entire product development lifecycle--by standardising product development structures, requirements and approvals, and removing silos between development teams.
What’s more, it enables full traceability of decision-making processes when carrying out post-mortems, contributing to a leaner business model overall.
A lean DMS should also enable you to manage complex files such as PCB layouts, program files, CAD drawings and training videos by integrating seamlessly with your software development tools.
6. How will a DMS give me enhanced collaboration?
Maybe your team is using the best tools, but what’s the use if you still suffer from disconnection?
A DMS facilitates internal collaboration, but the real benefit comes from the power to support collaboration between different stakeholders.
A DMS acts as a ‘silo-linker’, solving the problem of disjointedness and fostering better collaboration. This is achieved using ‘limited access’ partner functionalities, which allows third parties to take part in the creation, review and approval of documentation—but only in the areas you need them to see. The result is a seamless user experience as well as improved collaborative efficiency, global research and engineering productivity.
When third parties log in to collaborate, everything can be accessed in real-time, and software updates are managed by the vendor. Documents captured from different sources or authored by off-site employees can then be accessed from multiple locations, enhancing collaboration and business continuity.
7. How will a DMS improve my team's productivity?
The right document management system will save your team valuable time, which will improve its productivity. Quick document retrieval will streamline processes and improve client relationships.
As your business grows, your document management system should be able to scale to meet your team's changing productivity needs. Ultimately, your document management system should allow you to be flexible and competitive whilst providing peace of mind.
8. Can a DMS help avert disaster?
Accidents can happen—fires, floods, and forgetting papers in Starbucks. If something happened to your paper system, you might have to start the whole process from scratch—losing years of work. However, a document management system will ensure all your files are stored safely in the cloud, and they will be highly traceable.
A good DMS should be intuitive—it should ‘just work’, regardless of where users are located.
Your documents underpin every corner of your business. They are the foundation of your enterprise, and they enable you to promote better productivity and deliver value to customers. When managed effectively, they can save you from compliance and security implications, wasted resources and threats to your market value.
Whilst the benefits can be enjoyed universally, not all document management systems were created equal. It’s important to have a firm understanding of your business use case, objectives, and strategic plan when searching for a vendor. That way, you’ll be better prepared to seek out the features, ask the right questions, and ultimately, satisfy your business requirements.
Selecting a vendor because they have the longest feature list could be to the detriment of the value you eventually extract; paying for features you won’t use will just waste your money.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in 2018. It has been updated to include more information and republished.