The grass is turning green, flowers are blooming and birds are chirping. As winter draws to a close, the turn of the season signifies a new beginning, a chance to start fresh. And with that comes spring cleaning.
Whether you love it or hate it, spring cleaning is a seasonal staple that bears the mindset of “out with the old and in with the new.” This year, move beyond dusting behind the furniture or cleaning out your closet and spend time transitioning to a cloud-based document management system.
A document management system is like a digital filing cabinet, but better—helping you sort, track and file all of your documents, and even your data about those documents. Not only will you be more organized with all the information you need right at your fingertips, but you will also dramatically reduce paper usage. Additional benefits of using a document management system include:
1. Improved Document Security
With the right document management system, you can determine who has access to a document, what editing capabilities each person has and even monitor who’s viewing a document at any given time. Encrypted file sharing ensures you can access a document securely and know that authorized users are the only ones who can view it.
Make sure your document management system has more security features than a simple storage program in the cloud may offer. Ideally, it will include detailed audit trails, restriction controls for user access, digital shredding and more.
In the event of a disaster, hardcopy documents are at risk of being deemed inaccessible or completely destroyed, but with disaster recovery features in a cloud-based document management system, you can rest assured your files are safe and accessible at all times.
2. Increased Efficiency
In today’s modern age, most documents originate electronically, but many of them end up on paper. In fact, the average office worker in the U.S. produces 10,000 sheets of copy paper each year, per Mashable. This requires employees to pivot back and forth between digital and paper copies of the same files, costing extra time and money.
With a centralized document management system, documents can remain digitized through the entire process, even if they require a signature. By integrating a cloud-based digital signature solution into the system, you can have paperwork signed quickly and easily without ever being printed. The documents can be created, sent, signed and returned electronically in a fraction of the time it would take with pen and paper—offering customers greater convenience while reducing average transaction times. As a result, employees can spend less time printing, filing and handling paper documents—giving them more time for tasks that matter.
3. Reduced Physical Storage Space
Storing physical documents takes up a considerable amount of space. For example, one three-drawer filing cabinet, which can only hold 9,000 documents, requires about 20 cubic feet of office space. Very few paper-reliant offices can store all of their necessary documents in a single filing cabinet, so they often designate entire rooms to store paper files. Some companies even purchase physical storage space at an off-site facility, which is expensive and makes it more difficult to access a document.
Filing and locating physical documents also requires a lot of time. According to PwC, it takes 15 minutes on average for an employee to file a document properly. What if he takes a shortcut and doesn’t file it correctly? Then someone else will spend extra time looking for the document—resulting in lost productivity and frustration.
Using a cloud-based document management system takes up no physical space in your office, and the added benefits are streamlined processes and increased efficiency.
4. Better Collaboration
With document sharing options, users can access data from multiple sources in different locations—making it easy to collaborate in real time—whether you’re working remotely or in person. A recent Gallup poll shows that the percentage of telecommuters in the U.S. has increased to 37 percent and that the average office worker telecommutes two days per month. As these numbers continue to climb, offering employees the option to work remotely will not only be appreciated, it will also be expected.
Document management systems also offer enhanced retrieval options, helping employees find data quickly so they can accomplish the task at hand. And because users are working with the latest version of documents at all times, their efforts won’t be duplicated and their time collaborating will be well spent.
5. Compliance with Industry Standards
Certain industries, such as healthcare, financial services and life sciences, have data storage standards that must be met. Leading document management systems can meet these stringent compliance requirements and ensure data accuracy and privacy. For industries that require records to be kept for a certain number of years, maintaining documents electronically can provide both longevity and security. Document management systems also ensure that data can be easily accessed in a readable format—one of the key requirements of storing data electronically. It’s important to compare document management systems and determine which one best meets your industry’s standards.
6. Reduced Costs
Relying on paper documents isn’t cheap: paper can increase a document’s original cost by 31 times when you consider the price of printing, copying, mailing and storing. The average filing cabinet costs $25,000 to fill and another $2,000 each year to maintain, according to Triple Pundit. Each of these costs can be dramatically reduced with an electronic document management system. Plus, indirect costs, like those associated with spending time filing or searching for a document, are also reduced.
Before choosing a document management system, determine whether it can be integrated with existing company software, such as CRM programs, digital signature platforms or invoicing and payment systems. This will make the digital transition easier. Look for a system that offers an easy-to-use file-managing structure that your employees will be willing to learn and adopt. Strong search options, which can pull data based on the file name or the file contents, will make the system more useful, and mobile access from a smartphone or tablet is also important.
By making the shift to a cloud-based document management system, your company will be able to keep files organized and reduce paper usage, which is sure to make next year’s spring cleaning even easier.