Businessman and businesswoman sitting in chairs and checking their agendas on digital tablets.
The way we work has changed. To stay competitive and keep employees actively engaged and productive, making data available from any device and location with an internet connection is key. But it’s not just data – employees need access to documents, and digital documents make that possible.
The challenge is that digital documents alone aren’t the solution. Stacking multiple systems only creates inefficiencies. Digital document management solves that problem as it helps businesses to centrally store, and easily organize and track digital documents. It also provides document security, access control, audit trails, and seamless document search and retrieval.

Digital document management is no longer optional

Over the past few years, digital documents became essential to keep businesses moving forward and keep remote workers productive.
However, before necessity drove businesses to digital documents, many companies already embraced it for its competitive edge.
Today, as many organizations have fully embraced hybrid and borderless work, digital document management systems help businesses to effectively manage their digital documents, improve efficiency, and enhance collaboration. Digital document management systems also offer other benefits. Let’s explore some of them.

Benefits of using a digital document management system

Lower document storage costs
Storing paper comes with a high cost. Real estate costs money, which means every file cabinet has an ongoing storage cost beyond its original cost. Offsite storage as part of your document lifecycle management, or document protection as part of your business continuity plan also comes with a hefty cost.
Oftentimes, digital documents are the original files and, in most cases, are legally valid and equal to originals. You can store and backup millions of documents in hard drives, and they could share the same small space in an on-site environment.
And if you choose cloud document management, you do not need any on-site infrastructure, reducing traditional document storage costs. Furthermore, most service level agreements (SLAs) with cloud document management providers include redundancies, so you do not need backups like you would with an on-premises document management system.
Increased document security
Generally, digital document management includes the ability to restrict access to only authorized individuals. The degree of security varies from system to system. Free applications like Google Docs™ may be good for personal use, but likely do not provide the security your business demands.
A business system like DocuWare provides greater security by providing:
– Traceability and transparency with detailed activity logs and reporting that support compliance requirements
– Advanced access and permission controls, to provide employees with only the access they need
– Encryption protection to keep your documents and information secure
– Virus and malware protection, especially in cloud systems where the application and communications are monitored
Scalability and integration
Digital document management systems typically give you ways to integrate with other tools you use daily, offering scalability to support growth and changing business needs. Features often scale in free versus paid versions of the same application. Subscription platforms, especially cloud document management systems, typically allow you to add or reduce users as needed to support growth or changes in business needs.
In fact, integration and scalability are key factors for many businesses when evaluating document management systems.
Support for business continuity
From the ease of backup to ensure fast recovery times to the ability to work remotely, digital document management is integral to ensuring business continuity.
Better informed decision-making
Many document management systems feature some form of data capture. Point-and-click field data capture can speed up how quickly you input documents into the system. In many cases, more automated methods like smart integration exist to capture data from structured forms to further speed up input.
Integrations with other applications introduce opportunities to turn the data on your documents into advanced business intelligence, reducing the risk of errors, improving processes, and reducing bottlenecks.
Greater document accessibility
Digital document management makes documents more accessible yet still in a highly secure way. For example, someone from the customer service team can simultaneously view the same document as someone from the accounting department — enabling both employees to complete their tasks, with access rights as per their given authorization. And when they are done, the document remains in the same location, with version control capabilities and ready for the next person to access it.
Getting more done, more quickly
Digital documents move at the speed of a click (or tap for smartphones and tablets). More than eliminating manual paper transit and retrieval, employees can review and approve digital documents on-demand; speeding sales processes, AP/AR processes, and every other workflow for which they are used.
Accelerated processes also enable you to respond to customer inquiries faster, streamlining service delivery for those specialized customer needs that require escalation.
The ability to deliver better customer service
Digital document management make it easier to deliver exceptional customer experiences. Customer service representatives can find relevant documents faster while speaking with the customer. Reducing the friction of wait times, call backs, and missing documents elevates the quality of service you can provide. And we know that quality customer service means repeat business and more referrals — translating into revenue and profit.
Empowering hybrid and borderless work
Many companies have adopted hybrid and borderless work and the reality is, it’s no longer practical to tie workflows to a traditional office environment. Using digital document management systems enables employees to work from anywhere, making your business more adaptable to sudden events and disruptions. Unforeseen business disruptions can mean precious minutes lost in responding to customers, vendors, and others.
With digital document management, you and your employees can turn any coffee shop, room in your house, or even car into a dynamic workplace.
More productive employees
Organized, indexed, and digitally available documents limit downtime for employees wherever they are working, whether it’s in the office, remotely, or on the road.
Centralized storage also makes collaboration easier, as everyone can access the documents either to view, make edits, or advance a workflow and approval process.
Cloud document management systems with automated workflow capabilities can further help to enhance collaboration and productivity. These systems often feature workflow automation, collaboration tools, data capture capabilities, and other tools that can reduce the time spent working with, sharing, or moving documents from one person to another.

Which digital document management system is right for you?

You have a lot of options when it comes to digital document management. Free systems can meet short-term needs but may not be sustainable in the long-term due to a lack of integration with other systems.
When evaluating digital document management systems, here are some questions to consider:
– What is the primary need this system must meet?
– Does it add or reduce steps to a process?
– Are you getting the security that you need?
– Will the system organize and integrate your documents, or create siloes?
– What kind of workflows does it offer?
Of course, there are many more questions you may have. And you may have other considerations unique to your business too. An experienced digital document management system provider who knows your industry can help guide your journey in finding the best solution for your business. Find out how Ricoh’s business process management solutions can help.