Today’s businesses work on tight deadlines with some employees on-site and some working remotely. So it’s more important than ever for companies to come up with effective ways to digitize paper documents and manage it all effectively.
It’s difficult to know when to make the necessary updates to your document management strategy. But you can help your employees and your organization by learning more about electronic document management and what it can do to boost your business.
What Is an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS)?
An electronic document management system (EDMS) is a highly structured and robust electronic tool that manages the full spectrum of documentation that an organization uses. An EDMS takes document management strategy to the next level, converting paper files into an electronic format and centralizing an organization’s document workflow.
At a minimum, an EDMS should improve workflows via certain automation functions and the ability to easily digitize paper documents. These capabilities mean an organization can achieve a single and consistent flow of information that improves everything from collaboration and communication to regulatory compliance.
Businesses from all industries and sectors, such as healthcare, government and finance, rely on having a strong electronic document management system solution to locate, store and manage documents. Some of those documents include:
- Accounts payable invoices
- Employee payroll and tax documents
- Purchase orders
- Receipts for goods
- Agreements and contracts
- Three-way match
Benefits of an Electronic Document Management System
There are a whole host of benefits that come with investing in an EDMS system, regardless of industry. Here are just a few:
Helps You Stay Organized
An electronic document management system establishes clear, orderly digital spaces for documents that run the gamut of operations, from day-to-day forms, such as the latest batch of payable invoices, to less utilized, yet still-critical documents like yearly vendor contracts.
This organization cascades into other processes, too, like handling audits. Using an electronic document system creates a record-keeping architecture that makes audits painless by giving your team instant access to previous audits and other necessary documents they would’ve otherwise spent days or longer searching for.
Facilitates Better Collaboration
Your enterprise’s departments don’t exist in a vacuum—you need strong collaboration both within and between departments. If employees need to be able to access important personal tax information, for example, your HR department should have a way to share those files with no trouble.
An electronic document management system makes it easier for everyone to find and share documents quickly. The increased organization leads to better communication and collaboration.
Keeps Critical Documents Secure
With an outdated document management system, you may be at risk of not complying with regulatory security requirements for your industry. For instance, organizations operating in the healthcare industry must comply with HIPAA regulations to protect confidential patient information. And businesses that cater to European customers must remain GDPR-compliant.
As such, it’s important to ensure that your system can properly handle and store any sensitive and confidential documents related to customers, clients, employees, stakeholders, and even your intellectual property. That means you should be able to determine who can access and share certain files. An electronic document management system gives you that control, allowing full monitoring of every document, including who views or revises it.
The increased organization and collaboration that an EDMS provides doesn’t just make it easier for employees and management to do their work—it saves significant amounts of time for everyone.
With all of your files living in a digital format, no one needs to leave their computer to hunt down and hopefully find the files they need. With a detailed, easy-to-use electronic document management system that has a robust search function, employees can pull up the right document in moments or less.
After reviewing the list of benefits so far, you might notice that they all have something in common: They all ultimately lead to financial savings.
Using an electronic document management system not only saves you money in daily operations, it also frees up resources over time and can help you win new clients and investors impressed with your efficiency.
Finally, you don’t have to worry about misplaced documents, like vendor invoices or customer payments, that are directly tied to your financial operations. With these documents securely stored and easily accessible, you can ensure that incoming funds are consistently up-to-date and that outgoing payments are on-time—even ahead of schedule—avoiding late fees and earning early payment discounts from vendors.
What Features Should an Electronic Document Management System Have?
Now that you have a good idea of the benefits you can enjoy from investing in an electronic document management system, you might wonder what features to look for to best achieve those benefits.
Here are a few of the features that yield the best results.
Seamless integration with your existing systems is a vital feature for any electronic document management system. It helps eliminate the need to make costly replacements to critical platforms such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, content management systems (CMS), human resources (HR) software, and customer relationship management (CRM) systems.
Easy Organization and Categorization
Easy organization and categorization allow you to file your documents in ways that make sense for your workflows. Attaching details like client or customer names, file type, and department to the file can help employees locate it quickly.
Strong Search Function
Let’s face it, a strong search function is one of the most important features of an electronic document management system. Your system should offer you the quickest and most accurate returned results for your document searches. As such, your electronic document system should allow you to add metadata—like relevant keywords, client details, and more—to files in order to help return the best search results possible.
Detailed Edit History
A crucial advantage of electronic document management systems is the ability to take advantage of sharing and collaboration opportunities among employees, managers and executives. To enable this sort of efficiency and to maintain version control, it’s important for everyone to see who’s made changes and when.
Easy Sharing Capabilities
Your electronic document management system should also allow you to enjoy uncomplicated sharing capabilities, letting you send documents to whomever needs them. Whether a team leader needs a crucial spreadsheet for a team meeting or an employee needs the latest timesheet, the process should be simple.
Security features help ensure that only the appropriate personnel have access to certain documents. A quality electronic document management system should allow you to set permissions or tiered permissions to keep documents secure, especially when regulatory requirements are a factor in your industry.
Workflow Automation Capabilities
Perhaps one of the most important features to look for in an electronic document management system is the ability to automate processes. In collaborative office environments, automating processes like invoice approval routing and document processing saves valuable time and creates more efficient workflows.
Here are a few automated processes to look for in an electronic document management system:
- Invoice processing to ensure timely payment to vendors, service organizations, contractors, and more.
- Tiered approvals that can automatically reroute to a back-up approver if necessary.
- Electronic payment and document generation, such as employee payroll documents and employee tax documents.
Workflow Content Automation: Before and After
What Now? Find the Best Electronic Document Management System
Industry experts expect the market value for document management systems to reach $6.78 billion in the U.S. by 2023, nearly doubling the 2017 $3.59 billion figure. To stay competitive and foster business growth, it’s essential for you to develop or invest in an electronic document management system that provides a range of features and benefits like those listed here.
If your employees struggle to work efficiently and effectively using your current document management, it’s time for a change. The right electronic document management system can be a gamechanger for your business, regardless of size or industry.
For more than 40 years, MHC Software’s mission has been to solve document and content management challenges. With features like automatic document creation, automated invoice processing and approval routing, seamless integrations, and more, we can help you incorporate electronic document management into your organization’s system.
To learn more about our approach to electronic document management and how we can help, visit our website today.
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