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How does a Document Management System work?

The information memory of the company

With the help of Document Management System it is possible to have the right information in the right place at the right time. That is the basis for the decision-making procedure and thus the triggering of business processes. The faster the correct information is available, the faster can decisions be made - or more decisions and business processes in the same time span.

Today, information is often already available in electronic form - such as e-mails or Word files -, but naturally also in the classic paper-based form. The digital archiving of the Document Management software stores these documents in a central archive, which is accessible to everyone via the network. Every piece of information concerning the documents is stored in a database, starting with the creation date over the type of document and stored tags up to the entire text content.

The Document Management software later finds the archived document at any time, based on the stored information. This is usually much faster than looking for the originals – that is to say within seconds.

Faster information access and transport

Document transport can also take place electronically. The workflow system of a Document Management System can supply corresponding caseworkers or groups within the company (or externally) with documents based on specific parameters, e.g. the category, the project number, the client etc. Depending on how and when they finish working on the documents, further workflow steps are triggered. A workflow must not be seen as a fixed construct; semi-automatic and manual workflows are also possible. These, too, shorten the execution time of documents and make the individual steps of the procedure more transparent. Furthermore, it is possible to find the document in the DMS, even if one is not involved in the workflow. The document is never sent around itself, but rather a link, which is the address of the document in the DMS. In other words, one works on a shared data basis; the distribution copy is cancelled. The document is also easily accessible to non-participants during the work processes (of course, only, if the person in question is authorised).

Early document capture leads to transparency and prevents loss

If e.g. paper-based documents get scanned early on - i.e. as soon as they arrive in the company -, loss of individual pages or even of the entire document can be prevented. The processing of the document in the individual departments can take place completely electronically over the computer screen with a modern DMS. Every step of the procedure is documented and thus facilitates the comprehensibility of processes. The DMS offers important analyses of the entire metadata for controlling, which are collected from the documents.

Modern Document Management software also contains an audit-proof archiving function, i.e. it immutably files documents in a write-protected storage space. The documents stored in this manner have complete document status for the tax authorities and make paper-based documents superfluous, e.g. for a tax audit. Lower space requirements are the advantage here, whereby not all originals should be destroyed: signed contracts, for instance, are still required in paper form as proof in the case of civil disputes.

Is now the right time for electronic Document Management?

The first digital archiving systems exist since the beginning of the 1990s. At that time, the costs (for licences, servers, scanners, jukeboxes etc.) were so high that digital archiving only existed in corporate settings. Working with the digital archive was also very elaborate - all documents had to be tagged painstakingly by hand to find them via the index screen later on.

The rapid development of information technology gives us high server performance and large mass storage space today. These components, which ten years ago were about as expensive as a private residential building, are now available at a reasonable price. Furthermore, text recognition components (OCR), which can recognise documents digitally with high accuracy, have been available for only the last five years. All in all, this allows for a paradigm shift, which makes document capture and later reliable retrieval possible without user interference.

bitfarm-Archiv DMS, as a representative of the new generation of Document Management Systems, uses these technologies. Through these developments – especially on the field of Open Source (e.g. database MySQL) – digital archiving and electronic Document Management can be realised very comfortably and at low cost in businesses today. Now is the time.