HelpSystems Blog

What is Document Management?

Document management is the process of capturing, managing, and distributing electronic documents.

There are external documents you create for and receive from customers. And there are internal documents created for and by employees at your organization.

Sometimes these are original electronic documents. Other times, these are paper documents that are scanned as document images.

Simple enough, right?

But document management is a lot more complex than that. For starters, document management is a process with many names.

Document management is also known as:

  • Document management system (DMS)
  • Electronic document management system (EDMS)
  • Document imaging
  • Enterprise content management (ECM)
  • Electronic content management (ECM)

There are some nuances between these terms.

DMS and EDMS typically require version control, audit capabilities, and check-in/check-out processes.

Document imaging is basically scanning paper documents into electronic document images. This is typically one component of a DMS or EMDS.

ECM (both enterprise and electronic) is sometimes differentiated by security controls and the ability to manage unstructured content.

But, for the sake of simplicity, we’ll stick to document management.

Do People Still Use Paper Documents?

Yes and no.

Just when we’ve begun to think we’ve made it to the digital age and the sought-after paperless office, the opposite happens. There’s an explosion of paper documents.

But there’s a difference in how the paper documents are created today versus years ago.

In the past, paper documents (like purchase orders or invoices) were printed and then distributed. Today, they’re distributed electronically—then printed. After all, you can’t stop people from printing documents they receive. Old habits die hard.

In an ideal world, no one would ever need to deal with paper documents again.

7 Shocking Document Management Statistics

  1. 90 percent of records and documentation are electronic.
  2. Three billion emails are transmitted daily.
  3. Of all the documents handled each day in the average office, 90 percent are merely shuffled.
  4. The average document is copied 19 times.
  5. Companies spend $20 in labor to file a document, $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document.
  6. 7.5 percent of all documents are lost, and 3 percent of the remainder are misfiled.
  7. Information workers spend five to 15 percent of their time reading information—but up to 50 percent of their time looking for it.

Source: PricewaterhouseCoopers

Why Does Document Management Matter?

Documents are constantly growing. Just ask any organization—especially businesses experiencing higher volumes of transactions.

Automating business processes is a top priority for most organizations today. And that means automating your processes for managing documents too.

That’s why document management matters. It offers the best way to automate the entire document lifecycle—capturing, storing, and distributing documents. 

Ignoring document management is risky. If you choose to do this, you’ll probably:

  • Lose or misplace documents—and, as a result, lose business
  • Reduce employee productivity, because finding documents takes too long
  • Risk human error when documents are recreated
  • Compromise the accuracy of information when there isn’t visibility over changes to a document
  • Waste space on storage devices, because there are too many versions of the same exact document
  • Be exposed to risk when you can’t find documents
  • Find it impossible to accurately track and manage invoices

Document Management Makes a Difference

Organizations look to document management to do three things.

1. Streamline Document Processes

Capturing documents in one central repository is a must. Otherwise, you risk losing them. Document management can make a difference by streamlining the process of capturing documents. That means you can rest assured your documents are being captured and stored in one spot—and that you won’t need to chase them down.

2. Keep Documents Safe

Meeting security and regulatory requirements is really important—especially today. Document management can make a difference by protecting your documents from threats. That means you can rest easy knowing that information isn’t being stolen or shared without permission.

3. Make Documents Available

No one has time to waste searching for information. Document management can make a difference by making your organization’s information easy to find, so you can act on it. That means answering customer questions on the fly, paying invoices on time, and shipping products in a snap.

So, Do You Need Document Management?

Find out.

Take our easy, nine-question document assessment. All you need to do is answer how you’re handling documents today.

Then you’ll get a benchmark report of how well you’re doing, plus actionable tips for:

  • Documents
  • Storage
  • Collaboration
Check Your Documents

Find out how well you’re doing at managing documents—and where you could use help.