WHAT IS DOCUMENT STORAGE?
Document storage, or when we discuss document management, online document storage, is the process of storing documents as electronic files. There are some obvious benefits to online document storage as opposed to physical storage of paper documents.
First and foremost, online document storage allows for the immediate retrieval of documents.
You just can’t have immediate document retrieval with paper especially if you have more than one document that you need. Just saying that documents can be retrieved faster however is not good enough.
If we use the invoice example we can show hard dollar benefits to using a document management system that allows for instant retrieval.
Almost every organization wants to take advantage of early payment discounts. And all organizations do not want to pay for goods and services that were either not received or were not what was contracted for. Balancing when to pay vendors to get the early discounts and at the same time not pay vendors inappropriately is a concern for all companies.
With a document management system in place, accounting can see all the documents related to an invoice including delivery or acceptance documents.
Unlike manual process which may require photocopies or phone calls, the system can return all the relevant documents along with an authorization to pay. By streamlining the retrieval of all these documents, taking the correct early discounts can be assured without worrying about paying vendors that should not be paid.
Another important benefit of online document storage is the security of your documents. Anyone can pick up a document off of a desk. But without permission, no one can access a system that has sensitive documents.
Document security goes well beyond who can access the system. With online document storage, users can be granted access to specific documents. Thus you can secure your most sensitive documents to only certain individuals who have a need to access that information. You can take this even further by only allowing some users to access all of a given document and other users to only be able see a portion of the document. In many instances, this type of security can be mandated by government regulations. However, for all companies, securing data is the key to making sure that confidential information does not get leaked.
Security is also about ensuring the documents are preserved and do not get lost or damaged. Lost documents are obvious. Who hasn’t looked for a file in a file cabinet and not found what they were looking for? Sometimes documents were misfiled. Other times the documents were on someone else’s desk. In the worst instances, documents are removed from the premises and then forgotten at an offsite location. Documents can be lost forever, unless they are secured in a document management system.
Network Storage Versus Document Management
Many times users mistake documents stored on their computer or on a network drive as a form of document management.
Documents in folders on a computer or a network drive are only marginally better than documents in a file cabinet. If we look at documents on a computer they are only really available to the person who has access to that PC. Worse yet, most computers aren’t really backed up. If the hard drive fails, the document is lost. Further, documents placed in one folder on a user’s computer do not have any of the indexing power of a document management system.
The folder structure is based on one user’s ideas and not the needs of the organization. In fairness, who hasn’t lost documents on their own computer? You store them one way, maybe months ago, and then forget where you stored them or what you called them. Documents on network drive might be better backed up, at least one could hope, but they still do not have any of the power of indexing multiple documents into a cohesive and useful grouping.
Personal computers and networks are also vulnerable to corruption, data loss from corrupt or inefficient back up procedures and worst case, disaster.
With a true online document management system, backup and recovery of the data and documents is automated. So even in the case of natural disasters or man-made disasters, the documents are still safe and secure. This means that even in the face of a catastrophe a business can still function and you have a disaster recovery plan in place.