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  • Writer's pictureSteven Burstyn

What is Document Management?


The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic has caused many businesses to change how they do business.  Many companies have decided that they are not going to go back to an office and allow most employees to work from home full-time.  When you have people who are working in different places, all trying to access the same files, you can wind up with a nightmare of confusion.  You are never going to be sure which version of any document is the latest, and if any version has all the updates required. At a minimum, this can cause confusion. At worst, it can cause errors to be made that can cost your company significant amounts of money.  As people work remotely, it will become more critical for companies to invest in some form of document management solution.


Document Management is the process of receiving, tracking, managing, and storing your files.  Document Management not only reduces the amount of paper you file and work with, but it also tracks all of the changes made to a file. When you have people working in multiple locations, having any paper files can be a nightmare.  Anyone working in a place where the paper is not located is not going to be able to do the work they need to do.  Once you have files digitized and stored in a centralized place, everyone can now get to them, but now you must keep track of who is working on a file.  If you don’t, you can wind up with multiple versions of a file, all with different information, and none of it correct.


A Document Management solution has many moving parts, but an essential element is related to storage, retrieval, and collaboration.  Storage is where the file is located.  It has to be in a place where anyone who needs access to the data can get to it.   In most systems, this is generally going to be some form of cloud storage system, so people who are different locations can all access the data easily. Document retrieval is the process of searching data within the system.  When documents are placed in a document management system, the information is indexed so the system can keep track of what files are stored.  The indexed information is searchable for anyone who has access to the system so they can find what they are looking for even if they do not know the directory structure or file names.


Collaboration is one of the most basic and vital aspects of document management.  Collaboration ensures that a document can be retrieved and worked on by authorized users.  While the file is being worked on, access to the file should be blocked so no one else can retrieve the file and work on it at the same time.  In some more advanced systems, multiple users can work on a file at the same time, and the system keeps track of all of the changes.  Once the changes are complete, the document management system will implement all of the changes in the order that they occurred.  Since the system keeps track of all of the changes, it will ensure that there is no data corruption and make sure that there are no conflicts in the data that is being saved.  The system will also keep track of who made any changes, so there is a trail of activity.  This allows everyone to know who has been making changes. Document Management Systems range in complexity, depending on the need.  More robust systems have a tiered storage system that allows for the archival of older data to save space.  Many systems have a built-in workflow that tracks data as it moved through the different parts of the business, such as from sale, to processing, to accounts receivable, to completion. Regardless of how complex the system is, the main function is to make sure that your documents and data are centrally stored, accessible to all who need it, and make sure the data remains safe.  As more companies move to a work-from-home model, document management is going to become more and more critical.

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