What is enterprise document management?

Most companies face significant challenges when it comes to storing and accessing documents, and there are many reasons why:

  • Some documents are in hard copy form, others in digital file formats, and some are stored in both formats.
  • Digital documents are often stored in multiple locations — on individual desktops or in email chains, cloud accounts, or corporate servers. 
  • People are inconsistent with how they store both digital and paper files.  

Sound familiar? It’s no wonder that 82 percent of workers say their productivity suffers because it’s difficult to locate documents when they need them. Not only does this lack of organization impact employees’ ability to get things done, but it also increases the chances of files being lost or damaged and creates security vulnerabilities.

Enterprise document management seeks to solve these problems by organizing and optimizing document workflows across a large company’s systems. In this post, you’ll learn how your organization can benefit from an enterprise document management strategy and how to choose an enterprise document management solution.  

What is enterprise document management?

Enterprise document management is the process of storing, locating, protecting, updating, sharing, and retrieving digital documents for large organizations. An enterprise document management strategy will inform an organization’s selection and configuration of technologies to implement its document workflows. 

In addition to solving productivity problems, many large companies adopt an enterprise document management strategy for legal reasons. To meet government and industry regulations, organizations need a way to ensure they can track, secure, and easily retrieve documents in the event of a compliance audit or subpoena. For compliance purposes, an enterprise document management strategy must answer the following questions:

  • How long should we retain documents?
  • Where should we store documents?
  • How will we track changes to documents?
  • How can we recover documents in the event of a disaster?

Implementing an enterprise document management system

Traditionally, the majority of documents at the enterprise level have either been in paper form (and managed using physical processes) or stored on in-house servers. Now, organizations are increasingly turning to cloud-based software to store and manage documents.

The primary tool enterprises use to do this is a document management system (DMS), a software solution that provides a central electronic location where all of the organization’s documents are captured, stored, and tracked.

While there may be crossover with file storage solutions, such as Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive, and Google Drive, enterprise document management software should go beyond the capability of these services to include the following features:

Document capture and OCR functionality. Document capture features enable enterprises in the process of digitizing documents to collect company content through scanning or photo imaging. Optical character recognition (OCR) functionality makes all scanned documents, images, and PDFs text searchable and editable.

Storage, search, and retrieval. A DMS should be able to store documents in a variety of file types (such as word processing documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, and emails) and include metadata for each file. It should also provide tools to organize and search files according to a variety of user-defined criteria, as well as provide the ability to tag documents with customizable keyword fields.

Collaboration and version control. Features such as document sharing, simultaneous editing by multiple users, and a revision history with version control are important to enable team collaboration and track document changes within a DMS.

Integrations. For optimal use, a DMS should integrate with other key business systems, such as accounting, customer relationship management (CRM), and HR. These integrations not only help you leverage the document storage and sharing capabilities that are offered in the DMS, but they also allow you to conduct a company-wide document text search.

Customizable document workflows. Enterprise document management solutions often contain rule-based workflow capabilities. A rule-based workflow allows an administrator to create a rule that dictates a document’s flow through the organization.

For instance, a workflow may dictate that an invoice is automatically routed to the accounting department for approval before it goes to the client. This ensures documents quickly move through their intended workflows and provides transparency about the current location of active documents.

Security and compliance. Enterprises in industries that face significant regulatory challenges — such as those providing legal, financial, and medical services — will require a DMS with advanced security and compliance features.

These features include audit trails, permission capabilities, and integration with a device management system to include things like multifactor authentication. There should also be restrictions on file sharing and data protection features, such as access controls.

When choosing a DMS, ensure that it’s equipped with standardized and up-to-date security protocols, such as 256-bit AES and SSL/TLS encryption.

By pairing an enterprise document management strategy with a feature-rich DMS, your organization ensures that employees can easily access all documents, managers can control and review them, and you can protect the documents from unauthorized users.

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