Document management software – Special Report

Filing has been part and parcel of business for centuries. But have you ever asked yourself how much it actually costs? Even in the days of the “information age”, the sheer volume of non-electronic information is enormous. It’s expensive in terms of filing cabinet space. It’s expensive to file and retrieve. And there’s always the risk that a disaster like fire, flood or malicious damage could play havoc with your data.

In today’s immediate world, everything is needed yesterday. If you can’t keep up to speed, you stand to lose existing and new business. Professional and government bodies are also becoming more demanding with the threat of random checks at a moment’s notice. And of course, there’s a plethora of official documentation that needs to be instantly accessible to ensure you’re in compliance.

Factor in the administrative problems of your electronic data…”lost” files, network security intrusions, and so on… and the damage to your bottom line becomes even more obvious. With margins tight and markets more competitive, this is damage that your business could well do without.

Electronic Document Management (EDM) solutions have been on the market for a number of years. But up to now, many of these were out of the reach of the small to medium business. However prices have come down to such a level that a sophisticated, easy-to-use EDM system can cost as little as £1 a day per user to run – that’s less than the cost of four first class stamps.

This means that EDM is now in the reach of even the smallest business. But is EDM for you? Will it bring you dramatic business benefits that show up in your bottom line? Is it easy to install and master?

Our 7 part special report on the key things you must consider before you invest in document management software starts here…

Part 1. Time, space, lost business… Conventional filing may cost more than you think.

Despite the “information age”, most small to medium businesses still depend on archaic methods of document storage. Certainly, a large proportion of information is now stored electronically, but many documents still end up in conventional filing cabinets.

Neither is ideal. Especially when you’re trying to compete in a faster, ever more demanding market. And of course, you can never predict when a document has been misfiled or completely lost, or anticipate disasters like flood, fire, malicious damage or power cuts. All of which, without adequate backup, could seriously affect your business.

How much is your valuable time worth?

Hard copy filing is expensive in terms of time – statistics show that a single document can cost as much as £15 to file*. When you consider how many documents get filed every day, the cost to your business soon mounts up.

Conventional filing is also expensive in terms of the valuable space it takes up. (A filing cabinet costs a company on average £500 a year in floor space rental costs alone*.) And even when you store information electronically, documents are “not found on the system”, corrupted or you simply can’t remember where you filed them.

Statistics show that, on average, staff spend 10% of their time looking for information*. That equates to nearly four hours a week – half a day’s work wasted on hunting for information just to allow people to do their jobs properly. If you were to cut this down to just seconds rather than hours – across every area of your business, and for every member of staff – the savings could mount into tens of thousands of pounds per annum.
And remember, these savings are then available to invest in your business to create even bigger profits.

How much are your customers worth?

The pace of our working environment is getting faster as we endeavour to keep up with the increasing pressures of immediacy.

Customers want everything now, and they’ll let you know the minute they’re dissatisfied. Businesses simply can’t afford not to keep up with these demands. And when it’s customer service that separates the good from the bad, if your information retrieval isn’t up to speed, you don’t just risk losing existing customers, you risk missing out on new business too.

How much is your reputation worth?

These days there seem to be more official rules and regulations than ever. You’re not simply expected to comply with the ethos of these official bodies, but also the specifics of internal procedures, for example the handling of documentation going forward. And there’s always the pressure of knowing that they could check up on you at any minute, demanding to see a client file from years back which may have been archived – or even
misfiled. These coupled with regular audits and investigations compounds matters still further.

At best, the very thought of an official audit can result in days of additional administrative work. At worst, you run the risk of being fined, losing your accreditation and tarnishing your reputation as a 21st century organisation that takes its business and customers seriously. All of this is stressful, costly and time-consuming, and it’s not what you’re in business for.

How much is a simple solution worth?

Electronic Document Management (EDM) is much simpler than it may at first sound. Essentially, it brings all forms of information together into one central electronic repository.

In other words, all your in-going and out-going correspondence, email, internal communications, transactions, official documentation, customer records, supplier information – in fact everything that would conventionally been stored in filing cabinets or your PC network – is stored in one instantly accessible and secure place.

Here are just some of the benefits that EDM brings to your business:

  • The latest generation of EDM solutions are easier to use and more cost-effective than ever before, with full training available
  • Fast information retrieval time maximises your working time
  • Productivity is improved, giving you a competitive edge
  • Storage costs are reduced and office floor space can be used more cost efficiently
  • Sharing of information is more effective and efficient
  • Easy remote access for off-site working
  • Easy compliance with both internal and external operating procedures

A good EDM system costs less than you think. Once the preserve of large corporations, prices have come down so much that the technology is now easily available to the small to medium business at an affordable price. So much so that some EDM systems cost less than £1 a day per user to run.