What is Document Management?
by Julanne Williams


Document Management Software

What is it and more importantly, why do I need it? In the 1980s a number of vendors began developing software to manage paper documents and then later developers began to write programs that managed electronic documents – files created and/or stored on a computer.  In 1995, Freedom Imaging Systems’ programmer created the first version of RICAR for a Michigan based laboratory. RICAR (Record Image Capture And Retrieval) is a document management software – which went one step further than earlier creations in that it focused on the electronic: collect, capture, store, index and retrieval of documents.

Then and Now

Quite simply, every organization needs a document management system of some type. In the past, individuals would spend time moving paper throughout the organization; i.e., invoice comes in to accounts payable, goes to manager for approval, sent back to accounting for processing, data entered into accounting system, invoice with supporting documentation attached and filed in cabinet. Today, that same process can be shortened by capturing the invoice and indexing for easy retrieval later. If desired, add the functionality of workflow to automate the routing of the invoice directly to those who need it as well as integrate it within the accounting software.

A Quality Document Management System should:

  • Capture documents and make them easily accessible and viewable to those who need them – quickly.
  • Eliminate the need for physical storage space of all those documents – freeing up valuable real estate and saving on time spent searching through file cabinets.
  • Automate everyday time consuming tasks, reducing manual data entry and increasing ROI and improving revenue.
  • Streamline your business processes.

Getting Started is Easy

It’s usually a good idea to start small, with one department – wherever you feel has the most need – and/or with your team members that are excited about improving operations and workflow. This will provide you with a good foundation and then you can add on and expand from there to other departments.

Take a look at the department you’ve chosen and make a list of all the documents that flow through that department. If you have an idea of the amount of paper that flows that will help in the design of your document management system as well. Write out a list of current problems or issues your team is now facing with either the ability to:  access, view or route documents. This will help your document management provider come up with the best solutions.