7 ways cloud software can simplify document management

Hundreds of articles exist listing tips for streamlining employee productivity. Despite the wealth of advice available, many companies struggle to identify what’s affecting productivity in their own organisations. Researchers at Bain and Company coined the term known as “organisational drag” to describe common productivity killers. According to author Michael C. Mankins, more than 20 per cent of a company’s productive capacity is lost to embedded organisational structures and processes.

Document management - or mismanagement - is one component of organisational drag. When an employee is onboarded, she learns the norms of how employees share documents to get things done. Many companies store shared documents on a server, while employees keep their own files on their desktops. These files get emailed around and mutated into various versions that can be impossible to track.

Document management, or the process of tracking, storing and managing documents, covers the entire lifecycle of documents from creation and versioning to expiration. A document management software can solve problems associated with the chaos of multiple departments working on one document. As described above, version control and complicated file sharing methods are common yet avoidable plagues to productivity.

Cloud-based document management is the best  software for the document management process. It can be found as a standalone, or as a feature within a more unified, robust cloud software solution that offers functionalities for document management by imposing control and easy management capabilities. Content management is also included inside the boundary of document management to streamline workflow across departments. Additionally, cloud management consolidates financial processes, including invoicing and financial reporting. Real-time syncing eliminates the risk of having numbers that don’t add up

The benefits of a cloud document management system are many, but here are the top seven advantages every company should know about.

1. All documents in one place

Every department has their own method of keeping records. Processes, project progress and employee profiles all must reside somewhere. Manually, it is difficult to create a document repository with all possible categories like name, size, type, date, permission, status, author, etc. A document repository allows for simple arrangement of multiple documents for any team and any category. With cloud-based document management, the repository acts as a warehouse for all the documents within your organisation.

2. Access from anywhere

In contrast to documents stored on a physical hard drive or server, cloud document management software allows employees to access files from anywhere, regardless of location. With 60 per cent of companies offering employees work-from-home opportunities, remote access to files is an essentiality for many businesses. For companies with a 100 per cent remote workforce or multiple offices, cloud document management is the only option.

3. Disaster-proof important files

While disaster recovery has come a long way, stories about files lost forever from water damage or an operating system failure still circulate today. Cloud document storage provides peace of mind and eliminates the need for extra software to perform routine back-ups.

4. Quick (and intuitive) searching and sharing

Heavy documentation processes often lead to unending piles of files and data. Finding a specific piece of information buried in a stack of convoluted data frequently involves more effort than a simple “search.” Document management software makes searching for a file within few seconds possible. It allows authorised persons to search files by submitting file names, document content, tags and full text search. Permission-based document sharing allows for cross-department collaboration without sacrificing security.

5. Tagging and notifications

Assigning employees to contribute to a specific file often involves multiple emails and clarifications. Tagging enables notifications to each team member with one-click access to the document. Tagging is a simplified way to assign parts of documents to specific employees and alert them that their input is needed. You can also add context to documents to provide users a brief note about the document and create digital folders for storage and retrieval.

6. Streamline document lifecycle management

Every document has a lifecycle that last days, weeks or years in length. From the time a document is created, it passes through life stages like editing, versioning and archiving. Most organisations have a workflow in place for each employee that touches a document before it is finalised. Document management software ensures these processes are followed without any hassle and manages a single repository to make managing job and file retrieving simple.

7. Preview with a click

Hefty email attachments requiring a download to read quickly clog desktop folders with unnecessary files. Document management software often offers one-click previews for easy access. The preview feature is a timesaver for each person a document touches as it moves through the approval process.

Additional considerations

Document management software varies in scopes and sizes for small to large-scale enterprise configurations. It is important to evaluate options with your business’s specific needs in mind. Additionally, software providers have varying ideas of a timely launch. If you’re hoping to implement document management software in lieu of a deadline, consider asking about the timeline between a signed contract and “going live.”

Finally, if you decide to go with a cloud document management system, you’ll need to choose from different types of cloud storage options. A private cloud can be customised to suit the needs of any small or midsized business. However, pure private cloud usually requires a trained professional within an internal IT department to set up and manage - which most smaller businesses likely don’t have. In a public cloud, the cloud-based service is hosted, managed and maintained on the cloud provider’s network. Because public clouds are owned and operated by cloud service providers, businesses don’t need a robust, specialised IT department to manage the back end. A hybrid cloud offers a mix of private cloud and third-party public cloud services with coordination between the management platforms.

With the options available, document management shouldn’t contribute to organisational drag. Cloud document management software can significantly increase productivity by eliminating most of organisational drag associated with version control, and lost, inaccessible or unsearchable files.

John Macomber, Director of Sales, Deskera
Image Credit: Stokkete