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Digital transformation

What Is Document Management? How To Choose the Right System

Find out what document management is, why it's important and factors to consider when choosing a document management software.
Notarize
March 23, 2022
5 min

Any business that manages a lot of documents is a good candidate to look into document management systems to bring their organizations online and streamline operations. Choosing the right document management system is critical to ensure that it provides the features, compliance and support that each individual organization requires.

Defining document management

Document management refers to the process of digitizing and organizing documents. Usually using a technology system, organizations implement document management to bring paper documents online, and also to facilitate more efficient document sharing, access and storage. Document management uses tagging to aid in document retrieval, and helps with managing document access and sharing.

For organizations with a lot of paper, from law firms to insurance companies to healthcare, document management is an important digital innovation to consider. Bringing documents online can create efficient operations, keep information secure and aid in overall digital transformation as more processes move online.

Good document management is critical: Not all document management is created equal. Every organization and every industry is unique. Some have specific document privacy compliance requirements such as HIPPA. Other organizations, such as financial institutions, might have sensitive information such as bank transactions and personal data that need to be kept secure. It is important to go into a document management discussion with a list of requirements to ensure that whichever system is selected can support the organization's needs, while also bringing the benefits of efficiency and flexibility.

What is a document management system (DMS)?

A document management system is a software product that organizations implement to act as the central repository for their online documents. Document management systems have a variety of important features including:

  • Document digitization: There are several ways to bring documents online, from scanning paper documents into PDFs, to transforming them into electronic documents that can be edited and altered.
  • Document organization: A DMS provides a framework that organizations can customize in order to organize documents as needed. Many use a tagging system so that documents can be organized in a variety of ways such as by date, category, client, department and more.
  • Permissions and security: For many organizations, most documents are sensitive in nature, either because they are client-specific or have financial or personal information on them. What’s more, many organizations are required by law to keep certain information secure based on privacy laws. A good DMS offers safeguards to ensure documents are kept safe and requires multi-factor authentication to allow access.
  • Document retrieval and sharing: Most documents are part of a business process and need to be accessed and shared. Far from being a “document vault” a DMS needs to easily work with other software at the company to give access and use documents as needed. For example, documents may need to be notarized, updated or emailed. That process should be both secure and seamless.
  • Document analysis and reporting: A DMS can provide valuable insights into what types of documents are being accessed, how often and for what purpose, providing business intelligence that can further improve processes and efficiency.

Is a document management system right for your business?

Document management systems have a variety of important benefits. They free businesses from dealing with paper documents, they save time, and provide peace of mind that documents are safe and secure. In addition, a DMS delivers new insights and supports digital processes that can improve business efficiency and customer experience. With so many benefits, it might seem that every organization should have a DMS, but as an enterprise-level technology, businesses should consider the following use cases:

  • Paper documents are costly and time consuming to manage. A DMS can help businesses where managing paper documents requires many hours per week, or involves temp or junior staff to manage them.
  • Unmanaged documents are a liability. There may be documents that are too easy to access — online or on paper. This can be a huge liability for companies if sensitive information falls into the wrong hands.
  • Documents are difficult to access and use. Either online or on paper, it might be hard to access the documents needed for daily business. 

These use cases, and others like them, are signs that a business should make the investment in a DMS. Once the decision is made to implement a DMS, it’s important to consider the variety of options in the market. While some are web-based, others are cloud-based. Some systems have a broad variety of management features, while others are built specifically for certain industry verticals. Preparing a list of requirements and use cases can help narrow the choices to find the right fit.

Making the most of a document management system in your business

Document management systems don’t work in a vacuum. They require integration with processes and other technology across the business. Work with the DMS of your choice to see if they have an implementation roadmap or best practices plan that can be used to ensure success internally. Schedule time to get employees and necessary partners trained on the new system. See if other tech vendor partners may need to be contacted to help connect the DMS to other important systems, such as a patient portal or CMS.

It’s important to evaluate all of the different parts of the business that can be improved as a result of implementing a DMS. For example, documents that are brought online deliver a host of new insights, such as which teams use documents the most, and what kinds of documents are accessed most frequently. These insights can help further improve business efficiency with new processes.

Additionally, a DMS can unlock new digital improvements that can drive meaningful impact on a business’s bottom line. For example, digital documents allow for online notarizations rather than traditional paper notarizations, creating opportunities for fully-online transactions from mortgage closings to auto insurance, contract signing and more.

Notarize provides online notarization services that empower businesses to further their digital transformation and offer fully-digital experiences for their customers. Now is the right time for businesses to evaluate the digital opportunities that could deliver dramatic improvements to both the bottom line and customer experience.

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