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by Elizabeth Gonzalez | Updated Aug. 5, 2022 – First published on May 18, 2022
Image source: Getty Images
Going paperless sounds great. Who wouldn’t want to turn the jumble of handwritten notes, receipts, documents, and records you shuffle each day into an orderly digital library that sorts, files, and retrieves it all for you?
But getting there is a bit of a leap. It’s not just the money, but the challenges of choosing the right system, integrating it with your existing applications, and migrating massive amounts of data.
With the many options available today, you can find an electronic document management system (EDMS) that will let you enjoy all the benefits of going digital with minimal cost and hassle.
Discover what to look for in an EDMS and how digital documents can transform your small business.
An EDMS is a software program that manages the creation, storage, and control of documents electronically.
An EDMS lets you scan everything from receipts to employee handbooks for storage and use online. The right system can make your business leaner, more agile, providing ready access to information, streamlined document handling, and automated workflows.
When shopping for the best electronic filing system, look for these features.
Some electronic document systems can easily integrate with existing systems such as content management systems (CMS), customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and human resources (HR) software. Look for features such as:
M-Files and DocSend are examples of systems with advanced integration capabilities.
The range of features, storage, and pricing for efiling solutions is broad enough to ensure a solution for every business.
Document management open source systems are available in basic versions for free. These systems are compatible with various operating environments, but maintaining them requires internal expertise in coding and database management.
Most EDMS solutions include tiered pricing based on storage capacity, features, and customer support levels. It pays to shop around for a system that aligns with your document management needs.
M-Files integrates with platforms such as Microsoft Office, SalesForce, and SAP. Image source: Author
EDMS systems do the heavy lifting of document creation and filing for you, providing features such as:
Your EDMS should make it easy to find and access all your business documents and information through features such as:
An online document control system should also make it easy to collaborate and control access to information. Look for a system that lets you:
Version control is a critical function of an EDMS, preventing errors such as overwriting documents and accessing outdated content. Look for a system that:
An EDMS can automate many aspects of document management to enhance accuracy and efficiency. Look for a system that:
Many electronic document control systems include mobile applications so your teams can be even more productive. Helpful features include:
With so much of your data and documentation in one repository, you need state-of-the-art security. An EDMS can safeguard your data with features such as:
DocSend integrates with many platforms and applications. Image source: Author
An EDMS makes its mark on your business. Here are the biggest benefits.
Providing easy access to all of your documents and data reduces staff time spent chasing and handling paper documents. It also ensures that employees don’t waste time maintaining redundant documents. All those hours saved managing paper files add up to greater productivity and efficiency in your business.
An EDMS also makes it easy to respond to audits and produce other official documentation on request. No more hunting through file boxes to find last year’s tax return: It’s all at your fingertips.
Instead of sending documents through rounds of approval, talking over changes on the phone, and emailing attachments back and forth, your teams can view records and collaborate in real time, even with external stakeholders. An EDMS also provides visibility into business processes for better management.
In many businesses, documents are scattered over multiple systems, with individual users managing passwords, data security, and backups independently. An EDMS can eliminate these vulnerabilities by ensuring all your documents are protected and backed up consistently.
Version control ensures your staff is working with the latest information, preventing costly errors. With all your documents and records visible through one system, you can extract the information you need to track the progress of initiatives, inform decisions and strategy, and ensure compliance with company procedures.
Maybe the most compelling reason to lose the paper weight is the space it frees up in your offices. Paper files take up valuable square footage you can use for better things. If you’re paying for off site file storage, you can put the money to better use, too.
Investing in an EDMS now positions your business for unlimited growth as more transactions migrate to a digital environment.
Going paperless may seem like a pipe dream to some, but with the range of options out there, from document management open source solutions to scalable services, there’s an EDMS solution that can get you there with minimal disruption. The future of business is paper-free. Now is as good a time as any to make the move.
Elizabeth Gonzalez is a legal and regulatory expert writing for The Ascent and The Motley Fool.
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