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What is a document management system?

In the digital era, protecting your documents is paramount to preventing data breaches and malicious attacks from hackers. Organisations undergoing digital transformation should explore and implement methods to achieve optimal document security –  and a good place to start is a document management system.
What is a Document Management System?

November 17, 2017

A document management system (DMS) is software that allows you to store, track and manage your company’s electronic documents, including HR information, proprietary plans and drawings, office checklists and procedures and a whole lot more.

A great document management system allows you to keep everything you need for your business in one place, and to more efficiently retrieve and use what you’ve got.

• You can add annotations and stamps to your documents to provide clarification
• You can produce an audit trail showing every step taken with a document and by whom
• Version control allows you to look back at how every document was made and what the previous revisions were like. And you can even ‘roll back’ to a previous version if there’s a document error or changes are needed.
• You can ensure that every user checks documents in and out and prevent more than one person editing a document at the same time to block overwriting.

If you are accredited to ISO9001 or a similarly high-quality standard, a good document management system can be a godsend for helping you adhere to the standards by ensuring everyone is using the latest version of documents, document control is in place and far more.

And with the upcoming General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation coming in on 25th May 2018, having a document management system in place will make adherence to the new data protection regulations a whole lot easier. You’ll be able to easily manage what data you are currently storing and delete anything that doesn’t comply with GDPR, and with the type of security available in a DMS, you’ll comply with that aspect of GDPR, too. Your system will also track and manage who has access to what data, allowing for restriction of data only to the people who absolutely have to have it.

Document security

Aside from quality and GDPR issues, some companies also have further security issues, such as any company that deals with medical data that must comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements. Here again, the ability to dictate who can and cannot view and use documents is a vital one.

There has been so much in the news about ransomware, hacking and data leaks recently, but the big advantage of having a document management system is that the security that’s a huge part of a DMS will protect your data. With bank-grade encryption and daily back up, a DMS can give you the kind of security to comply with anything you need to, as well as the total peace of mind of knowing your data is secure and easy to restore should anything happen.

Advantages of document management

If you’ve ever managed with a manual, paper-based system and then moved over to a great DMS, you’ll know how much difference a DMS makes in terms of time and efficiency, but there’s more to it than that.

• You’ll reduce the amount of storage space you need, get rid of miles of filing cabinets and even benefit the environment by going paperless.
• Complying with quality systems, regulatory requirements and the new GDPR should be a breeze compared to trying to find and manage individual documents with an Excel spreadsheet and some box files.
Workflows are smoother and more efficient as documents can be directed to the right people for approval and sign off with no chance of anything being missed. You’ll benefit from improved collaboration and communication.
• That obscure document that you only ever used once before until you need it again today, NOW, will be easily found in seconds without going through hundreds of archive boxes by hand.
• You’ll more easily manage version control and revisions, and ensure that documents aren’t overwritten.
• Your data will be far more secure in a DMS than in filing cabinets or on your company network, and you’ll have complete backups to aid with your disaster recovery plan, and get your business up and running again quickly, should the worst happen.
• You can prevent use of obsolete or old version document, ensuring everyone is using the latest documents and the same version.

With all those advantages, you’d really have to wonder why anyone wouldn’t want to use a document management system!

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