Tuesday, May 16, 2017

What is a Document Management System (DMS) and what are some of the salient facts I need to know before I invest?

The short answer is that a Document Management System is an efficient, cost effective way to store electronic documents and to later locate and retrieve those documents.  However, as with most things in life, the more details involved, the more the complex something becomes. Here is a way to understand what a Document Management System (DMS) can do for you and how it comes together.

The basic components can be broken down to 3 parts:
·       The input point.
·       The repository.
·       The retrieval point.

The input point is what it sounds like the entry point in which your documents will enter the DMS.  What is unique however is the “how it happens” and from where the documents originate. Documents typically enter into the DMS as electronic forms, (e.g. a PDF) or as paper documents which need to be converted into an electronic version by means of scanning.  When dealing with documents already converted to electronic documents from an organization's accounting/ERP system or from an outside source, the intake process usually starts by inserting the incoming PDF into monitored single or multiple folders. 

Then, according to the ultimate needs of an organization, the documents can be separated, grouped, identified, sorted and organized. This function is usually performed by a Document Scanning solution such as inFORM Decisions’ iCapture.  The software’s mission is to:
·       Monitor the folder or folders containing the documents.
·       Trigger the capturing process allowing the conversion of the documents into a PDF.
·       Handle the documents.
·       Pull data from the documents via OCR, ICR, or OMR.
·       Create metadata.
·       Migrate the data plus the PDF image to the next stage of your DMS.

The repository is another part of a DMS that does what it sounds like.  This is where your documents will come to be stored along with the associated metadata.  As you may have guessed, sounds too simple.  With increase in the number of different types of documents, volumes, security, and locations some planning may need to happen.  In many cases, different document types are stored in separate archives or indexed as separate archives.  This could prove useful in isolating sensitive documents which may have user access restrictions. Another consideration is the location where the documents will be stored.  Will it be in-house, in a data center, or in the cloud? Regardless of which storage choice works best for you, have a data recovery plan that includes mirroring the backup to an easily accessed off-site location.

Now that you have crossed off document capture and storage off your checklist, how are you going to retrieve your documents?  The options range from proprietary systems, to open source solutions, to solutions which are included along with your repository.  Depending on your business needs and platform, your choices may become simple.  For organizations using Microsoft365, leveraging the included SharePoint may be a solution.  If your organization takes advantage of the IBM i platform, using iView by inFORM Decisions is advantageous. If your organization needs a specialized system for your vertical business needs, then those options are available too.

DMS is an invaluable tool for tracking, managing and storing documents.   Here are three helpful tips to consider when deciding or looking for a DMS solution for your organization.

·       Document Searching: Because not all users are tech savvy, the search function should be intuitive and easy to use with options to sort and quickly bring up your document or choices of documents.
·       Leverage what you already use: Consider those systems that you can leverage with current systems and processes already being used in your organization.
·       Scanning:  A Scanning solution should have automation capabilities to make it as easy as possible to ingest documents with only minor operator assistance.  By the way, when considering a scanning solution, don't get hung up on the scanning hardware as a variety of manufacturers have good solutions.  The important part is the software since it will be doing the majority of the work.

For more information visit http://www.informdecisions.com and send us your questions.


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