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Business Document Management FAQ

What is Document Management?

Document Management is the process of managing documents through their lifecycle, from inception through creation, review, storage and dissemination all the way to their archival or weeding out.

How could my company or organization benefit from using a document management system?

It can help you and your company be more efficient with your time which will save you money. Document management systems can: capture, index, retrieve, edit, annotate and distribute the paper, electronic documents and images via a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), fax, e-mail, printer, or the internet link other software to your document management system for a customized solution and images via a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), fax, e-mail, printer, or the internet link other software to your document management system for a customized solution and even distribute large amounts of information in a wide range of formats using CD or DVD technology.

Document management is a way to easily manage your paper files electronically and create more office space as well as saving time instead of spending precious minutes trying to find that paper document. Paper documents are scanned in and made into an image file (such as .tif) and filed electronically onto computer storage hardware. You can easily retrieve, annotate, index and archive these files.

What are the benefits of using a document management system?

It can help you and your company be more efficient with your time which will save you money. Document management systems can: 

capture, index, retrieve, edit, annotate and distribute the paper, electronic documents and images via a local area network (LAN), wide area network (WAN), fax, e-mail, printer, or the internet

  • link other software to your document management system for a customized solution
  • And even distribute large amounts of information in a wide range of formats using CD or DVD technology.

Document management is a way to easily manage your paper files electronically and create more office space as well as saving time instead of spending precious minutes trying to find that paper document. Paper documents are scanned in and made into an image file (such as .tif) and filed electronically onto a computer storage hardware. You can easily retrieve, annotate, index and archive these files.

My company wants to manage its documents more effectively and is looking into a document management system. Where do we begin and what do we look for?

First answer these questions: 

  • Why do you think you need a document management system?
  • What will you use it for?
  • Who will be in charge of it and maintain it?
  • Where do you want it installed?
  • How many people will need to use this? 

Now do research to find out which document management system is best for you. While choosing the product, keep in mind how many people you will want to have access to the document management system and start writing a plan to implement this system. Keep your plan simple. Save the bells and whistles until after you have the basic system implemented. 

Once you know what system you will go with, refine your document management implementation plan.

Install the system and make sure everyone who will use the system gets the proper training. Learn the system inside and out.

How do I prepare my business in case disaster strikes?

There are some things you can do that will help you in case a disaster ever strikes your business or organization. Ask yourself these questions: 

  • If disaster comes our way, what information or data is necessary for us to run this organization or do our tasks?
  • How important are your client and employee records, accounting and other company information? 
  • How can we store this critical information so that we can ‘proceed as normally possible’ even if disaster strikes our business?

Always back up this information onto another media source, one that may stay in the office, but also onto a server that may be offsite or onto media that can be taken and stored offsite. One thing you must plan is how often you will backup this information. Having a few different off-site locations where this information is stored or backed up will help protect your time and financial investments. 

What is OCR conversion?

OCR, Optical Character Recognition, is a technology where typed or printed documents can be scanned as an electronic image. The characters can be recognized from the image and translated into a text format such as ASCII. This can be done with documents where you may only have the printed or paper copy but do not have an electronic copy. 

What is backfile conversion?

When a document management system is initially implemented, there is usually a lot of existing documents and information. The scanning of these old documents or converting of data from one format to a format accepted by the new document management system so they can be stored and retrieved electronically is called backfile conversion.

How much time will we actually save?

More time than you might expect. A typical employee spends 30–40% of his or her time searching for documents—in email, hard drives, and filing cabinets. This doesn’t factor in the subsequent time it will take to scan, copy, send, or re-file the document.

Wouldn’t it be nice to get that time back and put it to better use? With the right document management system, you can!

What types of documents can be stored?

Our document management system caters to whatever kind of document you can imagine, including scanned images of paper documents, contractual documents, word-processing files, graphics files, marketing files, spreadsheets, PDF files, text files, photographs, customer service records, maintenance records, product development records, patents, patient records, engineering drawings, legal records, student transcripts, accounting records and material safety data sheets, to name only a few.

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If a user has the appropriate security access, he or she can retrieve any file in a manner of seconds. And because we support a vast array of scanner types there is truly no limit to the kinds of documents that you can capture and store.

What are Annotations?

Annotations are the highlighting and markup of documents designed to draw attention to specific items or note corrections needed. Annotation tools allow you to draw lines, rectangles, ellipses and add text notes to documents. Text annotations are often used to explain a drawn annotation or to show simple calculations. 

When Should I Use a Document Management System?

A document management system should be used to remove any paper-dependent processes in industries with paperwork-intensive processes or document-embedded routines.

Most Forum Group customers decided to take the leap to a paperless office when the paperwork exceeded the capital to manage it effectively.

By taking documents into a secure, digital context, a fewer number of employees can complete a greater number of document-related tasks and projects—hence the value in a document management system.

Why Is Document Management Important?

On a macroeconomic level, document management, if adopted in mass, is one of the few technologies that can increase GDP without causing environmental harm. In fact, the entire accounting industry has added value to its profession by augmenting the skill set of its practitioners through the efficiency that document management systems provide.

Additionally, as security breach threats are on the rise, document management systems play an important role in simplifying compliance and safeguarding client and customer information through secure file sharing and role-based permissions.

Although paper documents may seem safer because they are tangible, this simply isn’t the case as they expose an entirely different avenue for breach—the traditional office break-in.

Aside from the gains businesses achieve in return on investment, simplified compliance, and streamlined processes, document management system adoption in mass will be beneficial for the environment.

As organizations hang their hats on environmental conscientiousness in increasing numbers, document management solutions are important in preserving both the environment and the trust consumers place in businesses.

How Does a Document Management System Reduce Costs?

A document management system reduces operating expenses and the costs of noncompliance. When you couple the eliminating of trips back and forth to printers and fax machines with the elimination of time spent searching for paper-dependent information (or losing) paper-dependent information and needlessly re-creating it, the annual savings usually surpasses $10,000 for even small, 1 to 5-employee businesses.

Which Industries and Business Types Need Document Management Most?

Since the accounting industry has been saturated by document management system use, the industries in which the greatest competitive advantages are to be gained from using document management systems are construction, services, technology, real estate, finance, insurance, property management, healthcare, and consulting services.

However, as mentioned earlier, organizations with a low capital resources to expectations ratio will also be prime candidates for document management system use, and these circumstances are typical in small to mid-sized businesses with 1 to 5 employees.

How Do I Choose the Right Document Management Vendor?

Choosing a vendor that will offering an enduring legacy solution in the form of document management will be most beneficial. To establish whether this is the case, research each vendor’s track record for performance on review sites, including the reviews of the product given by existing customers.

Another good yardstick is to review the vendor’s longevity. Does the vendor have a track record of adapting to new document management demands and releasing innovative products? Have they carved out a respectable niche within the industry you work in? These are solid questions to ask when prospecting.

What is records management?

Records management is a process for the systematic management of all records and the information or data that they contain. Traditionally these were held on paper, or more recently on microfilm or fiche, but are now held increasingly within electronic systems.

The core concept is the life cycle of information, which sees information having a series of phases from creation to final disposition either through a controlled destruction process or being added to the long-term or permanent record (the archive).

Records Management incorporates the practice of identifying, classifying, providing access to, archiving, and sometimes the controlled destruction of records.

How Long Should I Keep Records?

It depends on the type of record, your industry and its regulations. Generally, records should be kept for seven years, but some records need to be kept for much longer and some for less time. If a record is of historical value, you may retain the record indefinitely.

Forum Group’s record retention experts can work with your company to help establish a compliant records retention schedule for your organization.

What Is A Records Retention Program?

A retention program is a well-documented program that tracks records from their inception to their destruction. An inventory of the records disposed of is maintained, including certification that they have been destroyed. Records should never simply be discarded. Most organizations use processes including pulverization, paper shredding or incineration.

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What is the least expensive document management solution?

The most inexpensive document management solution is to use Windows folders and file names to organize your documents. However, it is often challenging to maintain organizational standards without a capture and indexing process that forces users to maintain these standards. To automate the process of organizing files on your hard drive or network.

For many applications, it is preferable to use a database to store and search index criteria for documents. This option is often faster and more robust than Windows with regard to what data can be linked to documents and how it can be searched. 

What is electronic document management?

Electronic document management is a collection of policies and processes focused on managing documents in digital form. This function is performed through a computer system or other type of technology, typically an EDMS.

What is electronic document imaging?

Electronic document imaging refers to the conversion of paper documents to digital images—in other words, the output of this practice feeds into electronic document management. In some cases, this may also include optical character recognition (OCR), which transforms words in document images into readable text. The need for electronic document imaging is lessening as companies and industries as a whole turn more to digital systems and processes.

What does EDMS mean?

EDMS stands for electronic document management system. In some cases, people might also use EMDS to stand for electronic document management software. However, both terms are referring to the same digital solution.

What are the typical features of an EDMS?

  • Storage of a variety of file types. Even within a given industry or line of business, people use several different files—images, PDFs, Word documents, CAD drawings, medical records, etc.
  • Keyword search and tagging. Tagging helps classify and organise documents, while search helps you discover a specific file. It’s essential to be able to quickly find stored documents, especially as the number scales into the hundreds, thousands, and so on. 
  • File permissions. Documents can often be sensitive, which is why file permissions are important. You should be able to limit access to files based on user roles (e.g., manager, bookkeeper), user groups (e.g., finance, human resources), or specific users. 
  • Synchronous document collaboration. Oftentimes it’s more efficient to have more than one person work on a single document at the same time, especially if they need input from one another to produce a cohesive piece. 
  • Auditability. Whether due to compliance or security concerns, having a digital paper trail is important. A robust EDMS tracks user actions. 
  • Security. Given the sensitivity and confidentiality of company data, an EDMS allows for secure file storage. 
  • Intranets. Some EMDS solutions have more advanced features, like the ability to set up a company intranet. An intranet gives your company the ability to go beyond just sharing files—you can engage with people across the organisation, share knowledge, and more. The EDMS may also enable you to create smaller, customised workspaces within your intranet for specific workgroups or teams. 


What is a document management system?

A document management system is an electronic filing system that an organization can use to organize all their paper and digital documents. The software uploads all hard copy documents through a scanner. A document management system enables you to enter tags and metadata that are used to organize all stored files.

Document management systems come with build-in search engines that enable users to navigate their vast document libraries to access the appropriate files. They also come with permission settings that ensure that only the right persons can access valuable information.

Some of the essential features of a document management system include:

  • Keyword search.
  • Monitoring tools to allow you to see which users are accessing your documents.
  • Permissioned access to valuable documents.
  • Storage of different types of documents such as emails, spreadsheets, word processing files, and pdfs.
  • Support for accessing, sharing, and editing documents.
  • Version control tools that track edits to documents and help to recover older versions.
  • Controls that regulate when outdated documents are deleted.

What should you look for in a document management system?

  • Security – the document management system should allow you to determine who can use specific files and folders. You must be able to set access permissions for different employees.
  • Ease of use – a good document management system should not be too difficult for your employees to use. It is hard to get complete buy-in from your staff when the software is difficult to use.
  • File structure – you should choose a document management software that has an easy-to-use file structure that your employees understand easily.
  • Scanning – any document management system worth having will have a variety of scanners to help with uploading hard-copy documents.
  • Searching – your document management system should provide you with a quick and easy way of finding files. It should be possible to search for documents through the file name, content inside the file, and the date it was last modified.
  • Mobile access – there is a high chance that your staff will need to access documents from their tablets and smartphones. You should, therefore, choose a document management system that supports multiple devices.

Do you offer industry-specific document management systems?

Document management is not generalized to all businesses. The documents you produce are based on many unique factors that include the industry in which you operate.

If, for instance, you operate in the manufacturing sector, using a document management system designed for businesses in the education sector may hinder your operations instead of making your work easier.

Your document management software provider should understand your industry and the specific challenges it faces so that they are better able to help you get the best solutions. A provider who knows the ins and outs of your industry will be able to customize a system that caters to the unique needs of your business.

If a software provider cannot offer customized solutions, you will find it challenging to integrate the system into your current business processes.

What document management issues does your software solve?

There is more to document management than buying and installing software. You have to ensure you get a solution that fulfils the document management needs in your company. To identify the issues you need to address, ask your employees what problems they encounter on a day-to-day basis.

A document management system should:

  • Enable employees to follow and maintain your organization’s style guides for documents.
  • Provide online backup for physically stored documents.
  • Allow for proper archiving of outdated documents.
  • Enable employees to follow the proper procedures for sharing documents.
  • Provide electronic procedures that ensure only authorized people can access critical files.

Is Dropbox a document management system?

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Dropbox is a cloud storage and sync application that is commonly used for file sharing and collaboration in work settings. It is an easy way to automatically back up and synchronize your work across all your devices.

Dropbox allows you to create and save folders in a shared folder and work on the folders collectively with some degree of version control. Recent upgrades have given Dropbox more functionality making it more like a DMS.

However, if you are looking for an enterprise-level file sharing and collaboration tool, you should not use Dropbox. Since it was not designed for document management purposes for organizations, Dropbox does not offer the same level of security, integration, cost-effectiveness, version control, and search capabilities that an enterprise-level document management system provides.

What Other Terms Are Used to Refer to an EDMS?

EDMSs are commonly referred to as:

  • Record management systems
  • Electronic records management systems
  • Document management systems
  • File management systems
  • Document control systems
  • Document tracking systems and services
  • File storage systems

Each of these denominations has its corresponding acronym, which can be used interchangeably with EDMS (although this is not recommended unless you wish to drive everyone around you crazy ).

Examples of EDMS

EDMSs are among the most widely used systems in the world, and software products within this space are easy to find. Some of the most common examples include:

  • Google Drive
  • Dropbox
  • Box
  • Microsoft SharePoint
  • Microsoft OneDrive
  • Egnyte
  • eFileCabinet
  • DocuWare
  • Citrix ShareFile
  • M-Files
  • Google Cloud Search

I’m aware that purists are about to jump at my neck for including products like Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive in this list but allow me to explain.

These tools might not be flexible or powerful enough to be considered enterprise-gradeEDMS, but do provide the core functionalities we often find in such programs.

On a related note, they have been validated by thousands of users in this capacity, and it’s hard for me to turn a blind eye on this fact when it comes to providing recognizable EDMS examples.

This is what cuts it for me: if millions of users are leaning on products like Google Drive to manage their electronic documentation, who am I to call them wrong?

Who Uses EDMSs?

This is the easiest question to answer: most organizations use an EDMS. As long as there are documents involved, there usually is an EDMS in place. However, there are clusters that are more reliable on these products than others, such as:

  • Large and medium-sized companies
  • Government departments and agencies
  • Non-profit organizations and NGOs

True, smaller businesses, brick and mortar stores, and individual workers may do without an EDMS, but there often is some sort of way to organize documentation.

What Are The Benefits of EDMS?

This might sound like a self-explanatory question, but trust me, it isn’t. The main benefit an EDMS brings to the table can be summed up to keeping documents and files organized, accessible, and safe.

Organizations of all kinds produce incredible amounts of paperwork, and keeping everything a few clicks away is not just beneficial, but logical.

In turn, the negative effects of lacking an appropriate EDMS can be devastating.

  • 82% of workers say that navigating through different systems to access the current version of a document affects productivity
  • 83% had to create a document that already existed because they were unable to find it on their corporate system
  • 88% say they’d benefit if they could search for their documents in one place

The loss of productivity associated with poor documentation management is immense, and the bigger the organization, the larger the damage. A 2018 survey showed that:

  • 49% of employees have trouble locating documents
  • 43% have problems with document approvals and sharing
  • 33% struggle with versioning

Needless to say, a system is not the answer to every problem. Appropriate training, motivation, and other factors play a role too.

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