How to manage electronic documents across your business

Careful planning is needed for the best results

Think about how your business manages the documents it uses every day. Moving this mass of paper to an electronic system clearly has a number of benefits, but these will only be realised if your enterprise has a robust, comprehensive, secure and user-friendly document management system in place.

In a white paper, Hewlett Packard says: "A document management system is just like a catalogue or library of documents. For each document the system will detail what it's about, who wrote it, who can see it, who can change it, who has changed it – and where and how it can be found." A useful document management system must balance all these components.

Many of the document management systems that are available from large suppliers such as IBM, EMC and Microsoft tend to be too large and costly to implement for smaller enterprises.

Cloudy options

The good news, though, is that even the smallest of enterprises can move to electronic document management thanks to a range of cloud-based services that have been developing over the last few years.

Some of the leading suppliers in this space include:

Alfresco

OnBase

Perceptive

Easy Software

eCopy ShareScan

Invu

Lindenhouse Software

Prism Software

Service and security

Micro-enterprises may already use systems such as Google Docs, DropBox or Huddle, but these must be carefully evaluated to ensure they offer the level of service that your business needs, and the high levels of security your business' documents should have. Simply using the consumer-level versions of these services is not an option for businesses that want to build robust and expandable document management systems to serve them now and in the future. Always assess the business-grade services that these platforms offer.

Doug Miles, Director Market Intelligence for AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) told TechRadar Pro: "A small business must first decide if it is going to use a document management system simply for storing records needed for compliance, or for publishing finished documents for general access or consultative documents for project teams.

"My recommendation would be to go for the middle option, with a view to records management as the next step. Set up a small information governance team with representation from multiple areas, and once the scope is set, get someone trained – or better still the whole team."

Moving to a document management system is a task that all businesses can benefit from, but careful planning and a stepped implementation will ensure your enterprise moves to these systems seamlessly and with the least amount of disruption.