The myths about scanning, document management and going paperless

helpIn making the decision to deploy a Document Management System (DMS), the core goals of most businesses are always the same – more efficiency and control, go paperless. Sensible as these goals are, unfortunately many companies chose the wrong strategy to achieve them. For starters, a document management strategy involves much more than just saving or scanning files to a newly created cloud based document filing/storage location. A DMS system must be more than just an alternative file storage solution and be flexible and configurable to your business rather than the DMS’ vendor deploying the solution.

Although functionality and options vary across vendors, a true DMS should offer your organisation the following benefits at a minimum:

  • The ability to easily and quickly save, find and retrieve files
  • Ability to manage all information – not just MS Office files!
  • Sharing and collaboration
  • Email management
  • Built in workflow management
  • File security
  • Version control
  • Flexible permission controls
  • Integration capability with other information systems

cyclingRecently I read an article on the chaos around digitising documents, imploring businesses to bring back a data entry/file clerk-type position to maintain order within digital repositories. To me it’s a fundamentally flawed proposition: bring back or retain a role that most businesses, in an attempt to go paperless, wanted removed to save money and create efficiencies. The reality is that research has shown that only 23% of documents in any organisation are regularly used so the question is why go to all the trouble to convert all of them into an electronic form without the existence of a DMS to manage them? The other major flaw with this “catch all” type strategy is file duplication and the many different versions of the same file taking up valuable storage space. That’s not to mention the uncertainly it causes by not knowing if you are viewing or working on the correct version of a file.

Only last week, the Financial Controller of a mid-sized insurance broker told me he had rented a new office, bought new scanning hardware and hired two new staff on 12 month contracts to manually scan all their hard copy documents and migrate them to a new cloud file storage system. I estimate that this will cost the company about €100,000 which doesn’t take into consideration the huge potential for inaccuracies due to human error or the continued delay in staff being unable to access company files digitally. For a fraction of that investment, this company could and should have invested in a cutting edge DMS, customised to their particular business requirements that offers greater control over all of their company information. They could have even added a data capture and extraction solution to automate the entire paper to digital process and eliminate the need for manual data entry.

rowingOf course some industries must meet regulatory and compliance standards that requires legacy and hard copy documents to be digitised. In this case, we always recommend using an advanced data capture and extraction system to automate this process as much as possible but only when a powerful DMS solution is in place to manage the valuable information that is pulled out. These systems can also be configured to automatically process regularly received paper or digital documents such as invoices, contracts, forms or any other type of document from which data needs to be extracted for processing purposes.

In summary, the solution isn’t a matter of creating another information silo – you’ve got enough of them already! It’s about deploying a DMS, customised to your business requirements that can manage all the information your business needs.

Written by Nik Healy
Consultant and Advisor; Document, Content and Workflow Solutions at Pawpear

(Please email me at if you would like to learn more about how this, or any of our solutions could benefit your organisation.)


Posted in Document Management

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