"We are now able to access any document forwarded via fax directly from any desktop computer and all of our mail is now scanned and retrievable from our personal computers."
- William Ilecki, Partner, Chiari & Ilecki, LLP
Frequently Asked Questions
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A document management system (DMS) is a computer system (or set of computer programs) used to track and store electronic documents and/or images of paper documents.
- Location: The most important issues a DMS addresses is defining a central place for an organizations documents. Instead of file cabinets, fileservers, individual PC's and email, offices can have one place for storing documents that can be accessed from anywhere.
- Filing: A DMS uses a database to keep track of key pieces of information for a document called indexes or meta data. These pieces of information create an organized digital filing cabinet of documents.
- Retrieval: A typical DMS system allows for browsing of a digital cabinet structure or searching of meta data or even the text inside of the document for retrieval.
- Security: A DMS allows administrators to hide folders, documents and even meta data based on security groups.
- Traceability: The DMS tracks who added, opened, deleted and changed all of the documents in a repository for a complete audit trail of actions.
- Retention: Many DM solutions allow the setting of retention periods to automatically store documents for a set number of years before automatically removing.
- Workflow: Documents can be submitted for review and approval without leaving the repository. This allows others to view the documents even when they are in need of approval.
- Versioning: A DMS keeps track of modifications to a document using a check-in/check-out mentality. This way, users will always know the which version of a document is the latest.
Even though Windows has the ability to secure a folder, there is no ability to control how users name, modify and share documents. There is also no way to track who is doing what to documents in Windows filesystem. Lastly, if a users wants to search text of the documents across a large amount files, the Windows file system is much slower.
Any organization that is doing internal scanning either with a Multi-functional device or an actual scanner is creating images that are 20-80% larger than they could be. This causes an issue with most businesses as documents are being emailed, uploaded, downloaded and posted to the web more and more. A smaller file increases speeds and uses up less resources to manage.
If your office is looking to get started in document management but do not want to make an investment in software and or equipment, there are hosted systems that are available as a subscription that spread your costs over time. Basically your office uses the software on a subscription basis and all software, hardware and backup services are included in one monthly fee.
Non-digital archiving is susceptible to degridation which can render the media unreadable. Depending on the quality of the media, its shelf life can range between 3 and 7 years.
It is important to analyze all costs associated with the archiving of documents. If your organization needs access to the archived documents regularly, the retrieval costs of physical storage can add up quickly. Also, if you need the document quickly, digital preservation allows you to search the text and meta tags of the documents for rapid retrieval.
There are some benefits of adding disk space or a network device, however, these are just temporary fixes. Searching for documents is still going to be lacking and the performance of the search will decrease as the repository grows. Also, this type of archiving requires the correct version of the software to open the document. If the document is 10+ years old, the user may not have the right version of Adobe or Microsoft Word to open the document.