The Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) defines Electronic Document Management (EDM) as the use of a computer system and software to store, manage, and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper-based information captured through the use of a document scanner.
We can say that today, in this age of information in which we live, and in which data is essential for agile and accurate decision-making, documents and data are a duo of extreme importance for all organizations.
For this reason, many companies have already understood the need to automate document management through EDM software. However, what many do not know, is that not every EDM system is developed in the same way.
This means that when choosing an electronic document management software, it is always a good idea to evaluate the objectives of your business and align them with the features presented by the system.
With that in mind, we have listed in this article the most important features to help with your assessment.
Before choosing an electronic document management software it is imperative that you know why to invest in it. The first point is that, when well endowed with the essential features, the EDM solution allows employees to simplify the receipt, storage, archiving, sharing, validation and search of documents.
Another important issue: when adapted to the needs of the company, an EDM software should be able to increase its productivity and optimize the workflow, and all stakeholders and their actions are clearly identified.
With electronic management, companies gain in optimizing the daily use of documents. In addition, all industries optimize performance, cut costs, save physical space, and improve security.
The reasons for investing in an EDM solution don’t stop there. But to feel all these benefits, your company needs to know how to choose an electronic document management software.
Among the various criteria that should be verified when evaluating investment in EDM, those that we consider as essential are:
Good EDM systems have attractive advanced options and features that make the eyes light up. However, when choosing an electronic document management software, ease of use should be paramount.
Look for a system that has a user-friendly interface, which is, one that is easy to use and understand. Otherwise, employees will waste time deciphering the path they should follow (in this case, rather than making the job easier, the EDM solution will eventually turn into a headache).
Also about ease of use, when choosing an electronic document management software, make sure that it has search tools that allow the location of documents by type, date of preparation, editing, metadata, etc.
Making an investment in EDM will only make sense if your company has time savings and increased productivity. Think of the manual handling routine of a document.
Imagine, for example, a business document that needs signing. The path it travels (from table to table), in addition to taking time, includes the risk of losses.
Therefore, an important point when choosing an electronic document management software is to understand that the system should allow workflows that do all the management in an automated way. This management must be independent for each document type.
In addition, all those involved with the document must have an intuitive view of its history, such as: versions, revisions, approvals, issuing of copies and others.
There is no doubt that one of the most important aspects of document management is security. When we talk about flexible security, we mean that the EDM solution should keep your documents stored securely, but that the security to access each type of document should be flexible.
Explaining: when choosing an electronic document management software, keep in mind that it should allow the user to specify, according to the type of document, items such as: access to reading, editing, deletion, printing, screenshots, recording, among others.
Well, but if on the one hand an EDM solution should allow access to the document to be shaped according to the needs of the company, on the other the system cannot allow loopholes for data breaches. So when you choose an electronic document management software, check what its security protocols are.
There are several business processes that benefit from an EDM solution. Processing product change orders, purchase orders, proposals of all types, document signing, and HR processes are just some of the examples that require a lot of paper and that electronic document management can improve.
Each company has its own private business processes. When choosing an electronic document management software, ask the vendor to show how the solution being evaluated can improve your organization processes.
Also be sure to check if the solution is flexible. Rigid and complex systems will not allow your company to adapt to the process changes that arise (and we know that changes are natural). With flexible software, your organization is sure to have at hand a tool that will always meet your needs.
In addition to what has been mentioned here, it is important that an EDM software:
- Allows storage of various types of documents, including word processing files, emails, PDFs, and spreadsheets;
- Has monitoring tools to see which users are accessing which documents;
- Has features that ensure that the user is working with the latest version of a document;
- Has the digital signature function with certificates in the ICP-BRAZIL standard, releasing the documents in PDF/A format;
- Has check-in/check-out and lock functions to coordinate the simultaneous editing of a document and ensure that one person’s changes do not replace another person’s;
- Enables keyword search; and
- Has version tools that track edits to documents and retrieve older versions.
There are several EDM systems available on the market. That’s exactly why it’s so easy to be carried away enthusiasm and allow emotions to influence choice. To prevent this from happening to you – and that the investment doesn’t become a detriment – do your homework before you even start talking to suppliers.
In this article, we have listed the points considered by us as fundamental. If you want to understand this universe better, we suggest that you watch the recording of the webinar The Benefits of Electronic Document Management (EDM).
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