Saturday, April 11, 2015

What is EDMS and how it benefits your business?

1         What is EDMS

An Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) is a software system for organizing and storing different kinds of documents and contents (e.g. word, excel, PowerPoint, PDF, JPEG, PNG, TIFF, DWG, MPEG, MP4, WMV, MP3) in a single repository. EDMS refers more specifically to a software system that handles digital documents, rather than paper documents, although in some instances, these systems may also handle digital scanned versions of original paper documents.

The Electronic Document Management System helps users to organize, store, share and retrieve digital documents in a controlled environment. The EDMS system is fully auditable to ensure documents and information stored in digital repository is only accessed by authorized users.

2         Why companies use EDMS

The reasons for using EDMS are compelling:
  • Improve access to records and information – authorized users can search across the unit, department or even access documents maintained by other agencies with a single search query. Workflow can automatically notify internal or external users when needed information has arrived or has been processed.
  • Improve customer service – retained or in-process information can be immediately accessed. Accessed information can be faxed or emailed to the customer from the desktop.
  • Reduce queue time – information can be routed electronically using email or workflow eliminating mailing and transport activities.
  • Minimize duplication – a single copy of a document can be made available to all authorized users, including those outside the agency.
  • Decrease data keying requirements – forms processing and eforms can access current data via lookups and export form data directly to business applications.
  • Reduce storage and retrieval expense – a single repository reduces the need to store multiple copies while standardized indexing and integration with business applications allows users to instantly access needed documents or other information.
  • Automate business processes – workflow can be used to move information from one step to another. Rules based routing can automatically determine needed activity and work steps. Work object or referenced data can automatically update business applications, create additional documents or workflows, and communicate with internal and external users.
  • Improve regulatory compliance – technologies can create audit trails of access and activity. Compliance with Records Retention Schedules can be automated and improved. Incoming documents can be automatically classified and stored in the system
  • Enable reuse of information – Previously processed information can b used to prepopulate forms or validate and standardize incoming data.
  • Improve quality of data – use of automated filling and validation capabilities of eforms reduce the potential for missing or misplaced data. Features like auto-formatting, required fields, standardized selections, and dynamic form configuration validate data prior to submission reducing re-work and time-consuming correction processes.
  • Share information with external entities – existing information collections can be directly accessed by authorized external user.
  • Support external processing – external users can access the system, scanning, indexing, storing, and retrieving documents in a central repository.
  • Increased information security – documents and information stored in the EDMS is protected from unauthorized access by stringent security requirements. Backups provide vital records and disaster recovery protections. Protection by duplication is easily achieved using either offsite copies or system generated microfilm.

3         Benefits of EDMS in an organization

3.1        Risk Mitigation

3.1.1        Avoid Document/information loss

·         Companies usually practice physical storage of documents, while only few documents are scanned and stored on file servers. Physical documents are hard to find and sometime get misplaced, file servers are not reliable either due to lack of security.
·         Converting important documents into electronic format (pdf or TIFF) using scanner/MFP and managing them using the EDMS system will avoid information loss as the indexed electronic copy is hard to misplace and easy to find in a secured environment.

3.1.2        Ensure Latest information/document is available

·         Companies usually practice manual version management for keeping track of changes in documents while in review by multiple stakeholders. Often documents are also lying in individual’s personal computers, laptop or email, making it hard to asses as which copy is final.
·         Automatic Version creation and management feature of EDMS will eliminate error-prone manual process and will ensure employees get latest version/copy of documents in electronic format with date & time stamp of updated/modified time, thus avoiding risk of outdated informed being used in projects.

3.1.3        Ensure Document retention / avoid cost of compliance

·         Scanning and converting historical documents into electronic format and maintaining them in EDMS system will ensure documents are retained for as long as required and shall ensure compliance of retaining documents for contract period.

3.2        Cost Benefits

3.2.1        Savings on managing documents – manual vs. electronic

Managing documents in physical form consumes space, labor and cost. Clearing workspace   of documents which are no longer actively used in business, converting and storing them in electronic format in EDMS and housing such physical documents in a warehouse will result in cost savings.

3.2.2        Saving of paper/printing cost and logistics/transit cost

·         Everyday printing, photocopying and couriering the documents to various offices and sub-contractors for review and approval purpose results in cost. Often the documents have multiple review cycles and are not required to be printed, unless they reach the final stage.
·         EDMS can help companies save on the above said cost by the way of electronic sharing and review/commenting feature while the documents are in draft and review stage. Only final approved copy needs to be printed for signature by the authorized person.

3.3        Operational Efficiency

3.3.1        Immediate access/fast retrieval of latest information/documents

·         Companies can maintain all sort of engineering and corporate documents e.g. drawings, contracts, financial documents in single EDMS system and find at a click using the keyword-based indexing and search feature of EDMS, rather than going through the bulk of physical files.
·         Documents of various subsidiaries and sub-contractors can be stored in a single EDMS repository and in structured format, which will result in users having information at a click accessible across offices and even at vessels leading to user productivity gains.

3.3.2        Easy & secured sharing of documents across teams and subsidiaries

·         The collaboration feature of EDMS will help companies in sharing the documents in electronic format across various teams and subsidiaries, instead of sending them via courier or emails.
·         Online sharing of documents like drawings, contracts, manuals etc. via EDMS is secure, decreases burden on email server and offers more features like commenting on documents while in review.

3.3.3        Electronic Review and approval of documents with collaboration features

·       Workflow feature of EDMS will help companies to improve on staff productivity, shorten document review and approval cycles by the way of setting rules and deadlines for review and approval.
·         Apart from automating engineering documents review and approval, transmittal management, Workflow feature can also be rolled-out to automate other corporate business processes in future like invoice approval, PO approval, claims reimbursement etc.

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