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Home Inspiration Blog | WoodWing

Document Management

Information Management

12 minutes of reading

What is document management? And why is it so important?

"WoodWing, do they do document management too?" – "Absolutely! Haven't you heard of WoodWing Xtendis?" The article below covers everything you've always wanted to know about document management: what it is, its relevance today, the benefits and challenges, which tools can help, practical examples, frequently asked questions about document management, and much more.

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Contents of this article:

Introduction

The way documents are created, shared, and stored has significantly changed with the rise of digital technologies. One might think this has reduced the challenges of document management, but the opposite is true. Companies still face issues like finding documents, ensuring security and compliance, fostering collaboration around documents, and optimizing document-related processes.

New developments and trends in document management each come with their own benefits and challenges. Consider the rise of cloud-based solutions and the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. Or integration issues: how do you connect document management systems to other business applications for seamless workflows and an integrated document ecosystem?

While the way we manage documents has changed, effective document management remains relevant and a crucial pillar of success for modern businesses. Read on to discover why.

What is document management

Document management refers to processes for managing documents within and outside an organization, both physically and digitally. This includes creating, storing, organizing, securing, sharing, and updating documents throughout their entire lifecycle.

Document management is more than:

  • Scanning and storing paper documents; that's just one aspect of its capabilities
  • A document storage solution on a hard drive or in the cloud
  • A one-time solution and implementation, it's an ongoing process

The Benefits of document management

A significant benefit of properly applying document management is the ability to quickly find documents. With advanced search capabilities, users can quickly and easily locate the documents they need, even within very large archives. This prevents unnecessary frustration and increases productivity for both individuals and the organization as a whole.

Other benefits of document management include:

  • Efficiency improvements by making document processes easier.
  • Cost savings on paper, printing, storage space, and administrative tasks associated with manual document management.
  • Seamless collaboration in and around documents, even with hybrid workplaces.
  • Optimal security through encryption, access control, and audit trails. This protects the confidentiality and integrity of documents against unauthorized access or changes.
  • Effortless compliance with data protection and privacy regulations.

The biggest challenges of document management

When embarking on document management, it's good to know the challenges you might encounter and how to address them. Some examples in alphabetical order:

  • Data Quality and consistency
    The way you enter, categorize, and index documents in your document management system determines the level of findability and prevents duplicate entries. Consistent data quality is especially a potential obstacle when migrating existing documents. Working according to guidelines and standards and paying enough attention to training and awareness helps improve data quality and consistency. The same goes for the use of automated validation and control mechanisms.
  • Integration with existing systems
    To get a complete view of all documents in your organization, you need to seamlessly integrate your document management system with existing business systems such as CRM, ERP, and email. Therefore, check the compatibility of solutions before purchasing them and look at the availability of APIs.
  • Cost
    The costs of implementing a document management system, including software licenses, training, maintenance, and support, are significant. Finding a solution that fits within the budget while offering the desired functionality is not always easy. Carefully consider what you really need to avoid purchasing unnecessary "bells and whistles". Also, determine in advance what it will bring you and ensure that this is in balance with your investment.
  • Scalability
    The document management system must be able to grow with the needs and size of your organization. Choosing a solution that offers sufficient scalability to support (changes in) large volumes of documents, users, and functionalities is therefore a requirement.
  • Change management
    Implementing a document management system means a different way of working, for employees. You overcome resistance to change by informing, involving, and training colleagues well and continuously.

Document management: Challenges and opportunities by market segment

Discover the document management challenges, benefits, and guidelines for a number of document-intensive industries.

Banks

Challenges
Challenges for banks lie in the area of strict regulations and compliance requirements (Wft, Wwft, GDPR, and NEN 7510). In addition, they deal with very different documents in terms of layout, structure, and content. This makes management complex. Finally, data quality and consistency are crucial for accurate reporting, analyses, and decision-making.

Benefits
With document management, banks can:

  • Improve customer service – Quick access to customer documentation enables bank employees to respond better to customer inquiries, loan applications, and other requests
  • Sharpen risk management processes - By accurately capturing and managing documents related to credit files, legal documents, and compliance reports, unnecessary risks can be prevented
  • Easier comply with regulation and audit requirements because it ensures structured storage, management, and security of documents

Opportunities
Deploy AI and machine learning for smart document classification and extraction of relevant information from various types of documents, such as contracts, loan applications, and IDs. This speeds up processing time and improves data entry accuracy.

By applying advanced data analysis techniques to documents, banks gain valuable insights from their data, such as customer behavior patterns, risk trends, and operational inefficiencies, and seize opportunities.

Are you curious about how BNP Paribas is achieving significant cost savings with its digital archive system? You can read about it here >>

Intermediaries and Insurers

Challenges
Specific challenges for intermediaries and insurers consist of the complexity of policy documents (terms, premium calculations, claims) and compliance with regulations such as Wft and the European Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD). In addition, efficiently streamlining and managing the documents required in the claims process is a difficult hurdle for many.

Benefits
With document management, intermediaries and insurers can:

  • Find and consult documents directly and easily, allowing them to respond faster to applications, process claims, and make decisions based on current information.
  • Better and proactively manage customers with a personalized approach, which promotes retention, cross- and upsell opportunities, and word-of-mouth advertising.

Opportunities
Document management is a key ingredient in improving self-service options for customers. This increases customer satisfaction and enhances operational efficiency.

Automated document processing and analysis tools speed up and simplify the claim processing process. This reduces administrative burdens and improves the accuracy of claim assessments.

With document management, seamless integrations and collaborations with external parties, such as brokers, insurers, regulatory bodies, and technology partners, are realized. This simplifies the exchange of documents, information, and data, and improves operational efficiency and collaboration within the sector.

Discover how Credit Life deals with process optimization in archiving, processing, and distributing incoming and outgoing policy-related documents >>

Pension Funds

Challenges
For pension funds, document management challenges lie in ensuring efficient and effective pension administration. This is determined, among other things, by:

  • Compliance with and reporting for, for example, the Pension Act and following various fiscal regulations
  • Data integrity and accuracy in processing and managing sensitive personal data of participants and preventing errors in processing pension applications
  • Keeping historical pension data and documentation safe and accessible for long periods for future reference, audit purposes, and possible disputes

Benefits
With document management, pension funds can accurately manage and maintain large volumes of valuable and sensitive pension data. By using advanced search and filtering capabilities, employees can quickly find the information they need. In this sector, document management also promotes collaboration between different departments within the pension fund and those with external parties such as employers, participants, and regulatory bodies.

Opportunities
Document management offers pension funds the opportunity to analyze data and gain insights that they use for better decision-making and strategic planning. By structuring and analyzing data, pension funds can identify trends, evaluate risks, and discover opportunities for improvement.

Take a look behind the scenes at Media Pension Services (MPD), the pension fund for the creative and digital sector. With the help of a document management system, it now has documents from all sources together in one digital sustainable file.

Housing associations

Challenges
Housing associations must effectively communicate and collaborate with tenants, maintenance partners, government agencies, and other stakeholders. Without an integrated system for document management and collaboration, efficient and secure sharing of documents is difficult. Rental agreements, renovation plans, building permits, maintenance contracts, and financial reports: how do you manage large volumes of documentation, all with their own format?

Benefits
With document management, housing associations can:

  • Effectively manage their real estate portfolios and professionally organize documents related to properties, tenants, and maintenance
  • Make faster and more accurate decisions based on effortlessly retrievable documents
  • Safely share, annotate, and collaboratively edit documents, making employees work more efficiently and improving communication with tenants

Opportunities
By using advanced document management solutions, housing associations gain new insights from their documents and data. This results in decisions based on current information about tenants, real estate portfolios, maintenance needs, and financial performance. The result? Better performance and more efficient use of resources.

Document management drives the digitization of paper documents. Together with automating document-related processes, it reduces paper flow and boosts your operational efficiency.


For solid document management you need at the very least a document management system that you can access anytime, from anywhere

Document management software: from nice-to-have to must-have

No effective document management without modern technology

Document management is closely linked to modern technologies due to the complexity, amount, and potential value of the documents companies must manage.
Modern technology...

  • ... such as automated storage, indexing, and search algorithms, but also techniques like natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, makes it possible to quickly collect, store, and retrieve large volumes of documents
  • ... provides solutions for managing various document formats. For example, with Optical Character Recognition (OCR) for converting scanned documents into searchable text, and multimedia libraries for organizing different types of media
  • ... includes features such as encryption, access control, and audit trails to meet compliance requirements and ensure document security
  • ... offers possibilities for real-time collaboration, allowing multiple users in different locations to work on documents simultaneously
  • ... also works through mobile apps and web interfaces, allowing users to view, edit, and share documents from smartphones, tablets, and laptops

What should you look for when evaluating and selecting document management systems?

Adaptability
It's good to choose a standard solution because you benefit from best practices and the system gets regular updates. However, the document management system must also be adaptable to the specific workflows and processes of your organization. Look for systems that offer configuration options to customize and supplement functionality according to your specific requirements and desires.

Security
Document security is vital everywhere and for everyone, especially when it comes to sensitive personal or corporate information. Ensure that the document management system meets data protection and security standards requirements, such as data encryption, access control, audit trails, and compliance with industry-specific regulations.

Functionality
Ensure that the document management system offers all the features your organization needs. For example: document storage and organization, search functionality, version control, security options, integration with other systems, collaboration capabilities, workflow automation, and reporting.

Usability
The document management system should be intuitive and easy to use for all employees in your organization. Ensure that the system has a clear user interface, logical navigation, and a minimal learning curve for new users.

Scalability
Nothing stays the same, and that also applies to your organization. Check whether the document management system can grow with the needs in terms of document volume and number of users, without compromising performance or user experience.

Future-proofing
Ensure that the system is up-to-date and continues to evolve to meet your organization's changing needs and keep up with technological developments in the industry. Check the supplier's roadmap for planned updates and innovations. Not only the document management system itself needs to be future-proof; the same applies to the data you store in it. Therefore, capture both documents and metadata in file formats that are applied worldwide.

The do's and don'ts of document management implementations

Do you want to quickly benefit from the advantages of document management? Use these do's and don'ts when introducing document management (systems) in your organization:

Do's

  • Involve stakeholders such as employees, managers, and IT staff, from the beginning in the process, decision-making, and implementation. Communicate clearly about the benefits of document management, both for them personally and the organization as a whole.
  • Identify the specific needs and requirements of your organization regarding document management. Analyze which features and functionalities are needed to meet these needs and select a document management system that fits.
  • Provide sufficient training and support for users of the document management system. Offer training sessions to familiarize users with the system and arrange one central place where employees can go with questions and problems.
  • Develop clear procedures and guidelines for using the document management system. Communicate these guidelines to all users and make them easily accessible.
  • Develop clear procedures and guidelines for using the document management system. Communicate these guidelines to all users and make them easily accessible.

Don'ts

  • Do not rush when selecting and implementing a document management system. Take the time to understand the needs of your organization, find the right solution, and develop a structured implementation plan.
  • Do not make the document management system unnecessarily complex. Keep the user interface simple and intuitive and avoid superfluous features and functionalities that can make the system confusing and difficult to use.
  • Do not neglect the maintenance of the document management system after it has been implemented. Provide regular maintenance and updates to ensure optimal performance and security, and continue to listen to user feedback to improve the system.

With these tips in mind, you can avoid the pitfalls of document management implementations and elevate your organization's document management to a higher level in no time.

The top 3 document management trends

If you're aware of the latest document management trends, you know how to better influence the impact on efficiency, costs, and your competitive position.

Trend #1 – More and more organizations are switching to document management in the cloud

Storing and managing documents in the cloud is easy, fast, and cost-effective. Strong access management ensures accessible yet secure document accessibility, on any device and from any location. In 2024, more and more organizations will switch to cloud solutions for their document management.

Trend #2 – Adoption of AI and ML continues unabated

It will come as no surprise that developments in AI and machine learning (ML) are still at the top of the list of important trends in document management. Take OCR software and smart document processing systems. They use AI and ML to increase accuracy, gain insights into unstructured documents, and automatically categorize and tag documents.

Trend #3 – Benefiting from RPA technology

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) software has a major impact in the world of document management regarding accuracy, efficiency, and cost savings. By automating repetitive actions in entering, sorting, and validating documents, you increase process productivity and consistency and prevent unnecessary human errors.


The 5 most frequently asked questions about document management

What is document management, and why is it important for my organization?
Document management refers to managing, organizing, storing, and sharing documents within and outside an organization. It's important because it improves efficiency, reduces costs, simplifies compliance with regulations, and promotes collaboration.

What are the key features to look for when choosing a document management system (DMS)?
Important features of a DMS include ease of use, scalability, integration possibilities with existing systems, security and compliance functionalities, search capabilities, version control, and workflow automation.

Is it true that a document management system can improve the security of my documents?
Yes, a DMS indeed contributes to document security. This can be through features such as access control, encryption, audit trails, document versions, and user rights management. These ensure that only authorized individuals have access to the right documents at the right time.

How do I digitize my existing paper documents and upload them into a document management system?
Paper documents can be digitized using scanners or document digitization services. They can then be integrated into a DMS through import functions, manual uploads, or a combination thereof. It's important to ensure structured indexing and classification of digitized documents so they can be effortlessly found later.

In what ways does a document management system improve collaboration within my organization?
A DMS can improve collaboration through features such as shared access to documents, simultaneous editing, comments and annotations, workflow automation, and notifications. This allows teams to work more efficiently together, share documents, and provide feedback, regardless of their location.

Glossary

You don't need to become an expert in document management, but it's helpful to be familiar with the following terms.

  • Audit trail: A detailed log that tracks all activities and changes performed within a DMS, including who performed which action and when. Audit trails are important for compliance purposes and tracking changes to documents.
  • Cloud-based document management: A DMS hosted and delivered through a cloud platform, allowing users to access documents via the internet from any location. A cloud-based DMS offers scalability, flexibility, and easy collaboration among users in different locations.
  • Document management system (DMS): A software platform to manage, organize, store, share, and track documents within an organization. It provides functionalities such as version control, search capabilities, access control, and workflow automation.
  • Document classification: The process of categorizing documents based on certain criteria, such as content, type, relevance, or sensitivity. Document classification simplifies organizing, searching, and managing documents within a DMS.
  • Information security: The set of measures and processes to protect documents from unauthorized access, manipulation, theft, or destruction. This includes physical security, data encryption, user authentication, and compliance with regulations like GDPR or HIPAA.
  • Metadata:A technology used to extract text from images or scanned documents and convert it into editable text. OCR makes it possible to create searchable and editable versions of scanned documents.
  • OCR (Optical Character Recognition): A technology used to extract text from images or scanned documents and convert it into editable text. OCR makes it possible to create searchable and editable versions of scanned documents.
  • Access control: The mechanism by which it is determined who has access to which documents within a DMS. This involves setting user rights and permissions based on roles, groups, or individual users.
  • Version control: The process of tracking changes to a document and managing different versions of it. Version control ensures that users always have access to the most recent version of a document and makes it possible to restore previous versions, if necessary.
  • Workflow automation: The process of automating routine tasks and processes related to document management, such as approvals, revision cycles, and notifications. This helps to increase efficiency and shorten the turnaround time of document-related processes.
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Published on March 20, 2024

Wim Vis

Wim Vis is the Managing Director of WoodWing Xtendis. Wim has over 25 years of experience in advising organizations on challenges related to digital archiving, document management, and information management.

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