Record keeping has long been an expensive and time-consuming part of running a business. Every business has a collection of documents that need to be organized and stored. Heavily regulated industries face an even heavier burden than their counterparts in other industries. Electronic documents are rapidly taking the place of paper, which solves a number of problems, including physical storage space, access and retrieval. However, without careful planning, even electronic documents can be lost or rendered inaccessible. Fortunately, advanced document flow management systems have been developed to handle electronic documents at every stage of their life cycle, from their creation to their eventual destruction.
What is a document flow management system?
Almost all companies already have document management methods in place, although some are more formal than others. Organizations that do not have a standardized process often find that each staff member or department develops individual methods of storing documents, such as saving them to individual workstations, printing and filing them, or by keeping them on a shared network drive.
These informal processes can cause problems when trying to access saved documents, and comprehensive information searches are nearly impossible. A formal document flow management system ensures that authorized people can find what they need, when they need it, without spending too much time and resources on the project. Advanced document workflow systems have specialized features that automatically organize, archive and maintain all business documents, regardless of format, with minimal effort.
Cloud storage or on-premises storage
High-quality document work flow systems offer two methods of storing documents: in the cloud or on premises. If you choose a Cloud system, the documents are decentralized. This allows any employee, wherever they are, to easily and instantly access the documents they need. Users have access to the system’s search function, and all documents are available on the Internet.
On-premises systems still offer decentralization capabilities, and employees can search for documents from any location and device with Internet access. However, it may not be possible to view certain business documents on the Internet, which means that this option is not always suitable for business needs.
The shift from paper documents to digital recording
Although many documents begin their life cycle in electronic form, many are still created on paper. For storage, search and retrieval to be effective, all records must ultimately be transferred into a digital format. Advanced document workflow management systems make this process smooth and error-free by providing import tools, version control, and more. Physical documents are scanned and filed in the system, along with faxes and emails, where they are organized in such a way that they are easily accessible for future access needs.
There are two popular methods of scanning documents:
Optical Character Recognition (OCR) – This technology scans and interprets data on paper and transmits it to a digital system. Metadata can be indexed and made searchable. Forms can be scanned and stored in useful digital formats such as JSON, XML, databases and others.
Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) – The main drawback of OCR is the inability to recognize handwritten characters. The ICR was developed to remedy this problem. Although the technology is still imperfect, it increases the digitization capabilities of your business.
Document workflow systems are typically designed to generate digital documents, such as PDFs or DOCs, by capturing metadata into the document workflow system. This is useful for various business applications, for example sending documents for signature when integrated with digital signature software or producing documents with timestamps. Common uses are sales orders, purchase orders, contracts, and invoices.
When planning to create and implement a formal document flow process, the primary consideration is simplicity. Design a system that categorizes documents so they can be located, archived, and disposed of if necessary.
The choice of a document workflow management system will have a significant impact on the efficiency and effectiveness of your archiving process.
This allows you to protect sensitive information, limiting access on a need-to-know basis.
User-friendly and intuitive, with enough flexibility to grow with your business needs.
A comprehensive data backup plan that guarantees the safety of your documents in the event of system failure or any other incident.
Includes input and output capable functionality, allowing integration of external documents into the system for future access, as well as the ability to send documents generated in the system to external users.
Powerful search capability that allows detailed search filters, so users can easily find the exact document they need.
Ultimately, any business can benefit from a high-quality document workflow management system. Some of the universal benefits include setting up an office system for a paperless office , reducing storage space requirements, instant and decentralized retrieval of documents, securing sensitive information, backing up to prevent loss data, audit trails, document versioning to track changes, and auto-generated documents.
Process Maker document workflow software provides a secure, easy-to-manage way to automate document processes. It includes features that allow users to import external documents and automatically generate internal documents that can be archived for later reference or sent to external parties.