Online Document Management News for June 2011


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June 2011 Newsletter


NGO Operational Efficiency and What You Can Do to Help Improve Yours

Top 3 Business Drivers for Document Management Software Adoption

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Hillsborough County Affordable Housing Department
Their mission is to enhance the local community by developing and professionally managing housing that is affordable for low to moderate income individuals and families.

Hillsborough County Fleet Management
Responsible for purchase and maintenance of vehicle fleet and equipment for all of the Departments within Hillsborough County, Florida.

Public Works Department of Hillsborough County
Provides and manages safe, efficient, and environmentally sensitive transportation and storm water systems to satisfy diverse mobility needs and to provide flood protection to public lands.


Using the Set Variable Node in a Workflow Process to Record Approvals

There are many cases where companies require people to print and sign documents that are used internally. This manual signature process wastes time and paper. You can use the Set Variable Node to record approvals without printing.

When you create your document routing sheet, add extra fields at the bottom on the screen. Typically you would have two fields for each reviewer. The first field is the approvers name and the second field is the date. A third optional field can indicate if they approved or rejected the document.

When you add the fields, make sure that you un-check the Field Attributes for “Can Change Editing” and “Can Change Indexing”. This will prevent users from entering or modifying data in these fields. Only the workflow process can now alter these fields.

When you create your workflow process, you will add Set Variable nodes at each location that you want to record an approval or rejection. The options for the node allow you to select one or more fields to update.  You can then choose what to put into the field. There are several default values:

To indicate the name of the person that just approved or rejected an item set the field to the option “Last user full name”.

To set the date, use the option “Today’s date”.

To indicate whether someone approved or rejected the item, choose the “Other” option and enter the value you want.


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NGO Operational Efficiency and What You Can Do to Help Improve Yours

Managing a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) these days is like walking a tightrope. The need for your programs is always increasing, yet funding can be difficult to obtain.

According to the US Agency for International Development (USAID), assets available for distribution in fiscal year 2011 are down 11% from the previous year. Combine that with an estimated 40,000 NGOs in operation, and it becomes clear why competition for these funds is fierce.

The challenges of running an NGO today are numerous:

  • Timely procurement reviews
  • Global contractual document reviews and approvals
  • Credit card purchase approvals before the purchase
  • Accelerating contractor on-boarding reviews
  • Accounting file due diligence and compliance
  • Reducing accounts payable processing time
  • Human Resource file compliance and records retention

All of these tasks carry an inordinate amount of paperwork to go with them, and it can be a nightmare to manage the processes and compliance. Your offices can quickly become overrun by filing cabinets, storage boxes and computers; each of which may contain different versions of various documents. If you don’t know where the bottleneck on a contract lies, who last accessed and updated a project checklist, or when your lease agreements are going to expire, you can spend more of your time searching for documents than actually doing work that provides value to those in need.

The worst part is while you’re scrambling to find documents someone else is getting in line to receive the funding you need. With so much responsibility to juggle in the context of your competitive global marketplace, you simply can’t afford to let managing paperwork and processes get in the way of fulfilling your mission. The answer lies in moving your mission critical documents and workflows into a cross-operational and flexible web-based solution that includes true document management and compliance.


Instant Access to Documents

Working with staff, partners and contractors in remote global locations can be slow and tedious due to the need to move files back and forth. Sending contractual documents, contractor on-boarding documents, financial documents and others by FedEx or UPS takes days; potentially missing the connection with global staff that are always on the move. This adds significant cost to your operation.

What about your NGO Home Office documents? Financial, Accounts Payable, HR, Marketing, and Donor documents, to name a few, can also be managed more efficiently.

Storing, accessing and processing your documents via the web results in instant availability 24/7 from anywhere in the world; removing the time barrier to document access and the actions that need to be taken. Plus, you can say goodbye to those costly courier fees, further improving your bottom line.

Document Indexing and Archiving

All important documents need categorization for future reference, but with so much information floating around it’s nearly impossible to find what you’re looking for quickly. Documents uploaded are indexed or "tagged” based on their metadata i.e. document type, document date, expiration date, vendor name, project name etc.; becoming quickly and easily searchable by that field data or indexing structure. This is very different from your typical systems whereby you simply drop files into a folder structure that cannot be searched efficiently, or does not have a way to manage records retention scheduling.

As you input your documents the system will “text index” as they are uploaded, allowing document content to be easily searched. If you are uploading image files the system will OCR the files allowing you to do the same. This is a huge benefit in case you do not know any of the info within the index fields but you do know what may be in the document, such as a term or phrase. This systematic methodology of categorizing documents is used as each department or functional area in the organization uploads their specific documents. Multi-level security protects the documents and data from being viewed by those that do not have specific permissions.

Global Collaboration, Document Control and Automatic Versioning

When you think of document collaboration, you probably imagine just using email, right? The problem with email is that it is extremely time consuming and does not have the proper security measures built in. Not to mention the burden on IT resources. Once the emailing begins, the documents are uncontrolled in terms of who has access to them. You must also consider how many versions and edits have to be managed. How much time is wasted trying to incorporate changes into the master document when the emails are flying? Think of contracts, teaming agreements, purchase requests etc.

Are you also storing versions of the same document in electronic and/or paper format? Now you have an even bigger problem if you’re not sure which one is the correct version. How are you complying with your records retention scheduling requirements?

All versions of documents and their supporting information are stored in one central repository, where they are securely archived and quickly accessible. The users are presented with the most recent version of the document, which they are required to check out in order to edit and check back in when their edits are completed.

In addition, your staff can send notifications and messages from within the system instead of having documents leave the system. This way you use one system that not only manages the documents and versions, but also the conversations and notifications surrounding those documents.

Manage Document Changes and Activity for Audit Purposes     

Audits are serious business and are increasing, especially in the nonprofit world. We hear the horror stories of NPO’s being shut down due to audit issues. It goes without saying how this can adversely impacts staff, volunteers, and those that need your help. At times this is due to obvious disregard for compliance; other times the NPO could not demonstrate any initiative to maintain compliance, even at its simplest form. Documents have a lifecycle and often change during that time. It is critically important that as documents change and are stored as corporate records, they are controlled and protected from illegal or unauthorized actions.

Our system creates a record for every activity within the system, including each modification to a document. Documents can be checked out for edits by only one user at a time, maintaining strict control of who is making changes as well as preventing duplication of efforts.

If the auditors appear, you can confidently produce the requested information and reports that will ensure that the audit is a quick and painless procedure.

Combine Electronic Signature to Speed Contract Processing

The review, editing, approval and signing of contracts has always been another painful procedure, especially when you have country offices and staff that travel continuously. Traditionally the contractual documents are faxed or sent by courier, which means you must wait for the document to catch up to an approver overseas, have them sign the document and send it back to you via courier or fax. If changes were needed you may be receiving a document with  handwritten mark-ups, which can be so illegible that you have to manually incorporate those changes into the master document and resend it, beginning the process again. Meanwhile your project sits idle, delaying your payments and potentially losing future contracts to those that can make things happen faster.

Electronic signature alone is not the answer, but integrated with the system that also incorporates NGO document and workflow management it provides an end-to-end solution to contractual and other document processes. Contracts move electronically for review and signature, which can cut approval time down from days or weeks to mere hours. When you can start projects that must faster, you, your donors, and your project recipients all reap the benefits.

Learn how this NGO automated their contractual document review to process contracts four times faster!

Top 3 Business Drivers for Document Management Software Adoption

The advantages of using document management software are numerous and well-known, but for many organizations it’s not so much the decision to adopt this type of web-based technology, but setting priorities for use once it’s been implemented and deployed.
According to recent survey of organizations conducted by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), the top three business drivers when considering document management software projects and priorities are the following:

  • Improving Efficiency
  • Optimizing Business Processes
  • Maintaining Compliance

Encompassing all four “C”s of ECM overall (cost, compliance, customer service and collaboration), these top drivers just happen to coincide with the most immediate and longest lasting advantages of an online document and records management solution.

Improving Efficiency

Online document management not only means the end to lost, misplaced, or misfiled documents, it saves incredible amounts of time that might otherwise be lost performing mundane or repetitive tasks.
Consider that it takes an average of four minutes to retrieve and re-file paper documents if the person knows the exact location of the document. Assuming a staff person files and/or retrieves 100 documents daily, that employee would spend over 1,600 hours a year just on filing. That represents over 75% lost productivity time!
In contrast, document management software enables files to be instantly and securely captured, shared, stored, and retrieved. 
Documents are indexed and filed electronically and stored centrally so every authorized user has access to them through an Internet connection, no matter where they are located. With Text Search and the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) features, retrieving documents is as quick and easy as a Google search so employees no longer have to go searching through dusty bankers’ boxes or file cabinets to find a file.

Optimizing Business Processes

Most web-based document management systems have some type of built in workflow capabilities to help streamline business processesby eliminating repetitive manual tasks and freeing up staff for more important activities. With rules-based workflow, you can create and automate business processes to coordinate between people, applications, and services. Documents can be routed, reviewed and approved quickly and seamlessly.  You can even integrate your document management system with back office applications for even more efficiency.
Automated workflows enable you to define tasks for a department or for business processes that cross various departments while enabling greater collaboration across multiple users, even in geographically dispersed locations. Notifications can be created for pending or new tasks. Collaboration with colleagues is simplified through notes and messages that flow automatically with individual documents or processes.

Maintaining Compliance

Audits are a daunting reality for any organization. Today businesses are making considerable modifications to their IT systems and internal processes to comply with federal regulations and mandates such as Sarbanes-Oxley Act, OSHA, and SEC.  Online document management systems make this easier with built-in audit trails that provide access histories and transactions for each document. 
Some solutions make records management more convenient as well by integrating with the online document management application, thereby allowing users to set retention parameters for relevant files and documents. Online document management is an outstanding way to better prepare your organization for audits and protect it against litigation, thereby eliminating the potential for fines and penalties.



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