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Simon Ellis, Managing Director of Box-it UK

What is Document Management?

Document Management [DMI as distinct to Records Management [RMI is the process that an organisation has in place to manage, co-ordinate and control the flow of documents through the organisation ensuring that each activity required to process a document is carried out and completed in a timely and cost effective manner.

Both paper and electronic files are included and the components of OM include processing, printing, routing, distribution, filing, retrieval, long term storage and finally destruction.

So how is that different to Records Management?

RM is the function of creating, organising and maintaining records to ensure they provide evidence of activity, decision-making and policy. It includes establishing links between related records as well as swift and accurate filing/accessibility when required. It also covers transfer to an archive repository in a timely fashion and finally the scheduled destruction, ensuring compliance and good practice. So, the two are different but co-dependant.

How does electronic document management [EDM) help?

EDM has been a big topic since the early 1980’s when major vendors such as IBM started to develop systems to manage paper, print, photographs and Limited electronic documents. This evolved to cover electronic documents or files, originally called Document Imaging systems which only supported a small number of file formats.

During the 90’s this evolved further to EDM where systems could manage most file types, often leading to organisations having multiple repositories. This developed to Smart Enterprise Suites and then to Enterprise Content Management, but systems were expensive to acquire and operate.

EDM provides an effective platform to combine and deliver the OM and RM requirements of an organisation, with the benefit of a powerful return on investment. In the last 10 years, costs have drastically fallen and applications have grown to include collaboration, e-mail integration and advanced workflow/business processing capability. The maturing Cloud platforms further reduce cost of ownership and speed up return on investment.

What innovation do you expect to see over the coming years?

Adoption of technology allowing both paper archives and digital records to be managed through electronic solutions, such as Omnidox Records Manager, giving users access to records or specific documents through a single interface.

[Where an item is paper based this would be retrieved by the storage area, scanned and added to the online storage from where the user can view the item.] This integrated approach supported by ‘scan on demand’ from archives allows organisations to adopt electronic OM without fear of the massive migration costs associated with back scanning large archives.

Can DM and RM be outsourced?

Outsourcing is an increasing trend in most markets and we see document centric back office processes being outsourced increasingly, specifically functions such as HR file management, Mailrooms, Accounts Payable invoices and electronic billing. With our hosted OM facilities Box-it is already providing a more complete service to a number of clients. We remove paper centric functions and convert these to electronically managed process flows, as well as incorporating the controls for effective records management. We also provide secure shredding of documents once retention requirements have been completed.

Why would someone outsource Document Management Services? 

Primarily operational cost and service level commitment-For instance we handle a number of mailroom jobs where correspondence is processed on the same day as it arrives whereas previously it would take 48 hours just to get the mail distributed.

Is the DM industry acquisitive? 

There has been some consolidation of vendors over the last few years, with a number of US players entering the UK market to grow market share. A number of self storage vendors have bought document management organisations to acquire the specialist knowledge involved in managing paper records. We [Box-it] acquired Stortext a leading scanning/electronic document management company several years ago giving us the capability to offer complete document management solutions from receipt through to final destruction.

What documents do Companies scan?

Scanning is increasingly being used to capture paper documents soon after they arrive in an organisation so typically these are invoices, letters, contracts, application forms, in fact any paper intensive area is now considered appropriate for scanning.

Scanning eliminates the need for traditional filing overheads so long as the digital images are properly indexed. Back-scanning tends to be limited to “live files” such as contracts, HR files, patient files, estates/property, and planning as there is value in having these available “online”.

How does the scanning process work? 

Incoming documents are batched and logged, then processed to achieve output that includes digital documents and associated data to feed into OM and business process management systems. The process includes preparation (opening, removing staples or bindings) scanning and data capture to agreed specifications. This can be simple index data for retrieval or full data to feed into client CRM or ERP systems, or to drive work processes.

Can DM add value to environmental initiatives?

Green initiatives are becoming increasingly important. Replacing road trips with digital delivery of documents from archive and by routing documents through the business electronically reduces the need for printing or copying. This sector will play an important part in carbon reduction.

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