Years ago, we had several file cabinets, and a room full of file boxes, and invoices were produced in seven, yes seven, parts. We wrote letters and waited for days a written response. We had a box of carbon paper in the desk drawer and drove to the bank every day for a deposit. Things have changed. They continue to change. But a large common denominator of the era I have been describing is paper. Pretty much all information was stored and transmitted on paper. We developed systems for creating, distributing, managing and storing it. I still have a few boxes of paper that we cannot seem to get rid of for various reasons. Today, most of this information is conveyed in some digital manner. We now have to develop systems for creating, distributing, managing, and storing digital files.
There are many considerations of a system to keep digital files. I think that today this is becoming a necessity, and not a luxury. Several years ago, the push to convert our paper files to digital cause the start of ‘document imaging systems.’ Today that has changed fairly dramatically to Digital Document Management. Sounds like a relatively small change, but the impact is tremendous. Document Imaging Systems were designed to manage scans of paper documents much like a file cabinet handles the paper itself, but with several advantages. A Digital Document Management is a system designed to manage the information regardless of what form it is in when you receive it. As with paper files, one basic factor is that all of the information has to be in a digital format. It works much more efficiently to keep everything in the same media, digital, or paper. Trying to maintain two systems is cumbersome and will inevitably result in duplication and/or loss.
I do believe that for some small businesses paper may be a better way to manage information. I have one that for the first year of it’s life, paper was the best way. It wasn’t overwhelming to manage and it had little enough daily activity that paper made sense. It has now gone to digital management because of the volume it processes each day, and the volume that history creates.
A few pointers in considering your information management systems:
- Make a conscious decision of how you will manage and archive data and stick to it.
- Look for software that ‘thinks’ the way you do.
- Be willing to change the way you ‘think’ to automate your process more efficiently.
- Check capabilities of software you currently own before adding yet another software.
- Make sure your hardware meets much more than the minimum requirements.
- Learn the system you choose to use. Both you and your staff.
- Be careful not to become a digital hoarder
- Make sure you don’t ‘work around’ the system you have set in place.
- Set realistic goals for implementation and make sure they are met.
- Be more focused on the future than the past.
The preceding list is the top 10 list of where we see digital document management fall short for clients. No single point is that difficult to overcome, but combine two or three, and throw trying to do business as usual on top with a dose of ‘we have always done it this way’ and you have an excellent system that not utilized or grossly underutilized, and an inefficient process that can inhibit your ability to advance.
We would be happy to help you evaluate how to manage your information more efficiently. Give us a call @ 423-266-3774