Epson Article


Why a document management system is as essential as ever in 2021

06 Jul,2021

A document management system (DMS) has always been important — assisting with the creation, distribution and organisation of the thousands of documents a business goes through in a typical year. After a year that’s been anything but typical, however, digitising documents with a DMS has become vital. Whether your team is still working remotely, back in the office or a hybrid of the two, a DMS can reduce costs and keep your team working efficiently.

At Epson, we offer tailored solutions that meet companies' needs regardless of their size or IT capabilities — from small companies to large businesses. Our decentralised printing solutions make remote work easier and your return to the office safer. Read on to see how the right document management system from Epson can help to impose order on your documents and communications. Increased productivity is within reach with Epson.

What is a document management system?

A document management system is any software that helps you to store and keep track of documents. Document management systems can vary widely in their features and capabilities but each one of them is developed to make document organisation easier.

One thing that document management systems are great for is turning “dumb” documents into “smart” ones. This means that the user has the ability to edit, change management settings and in other ways alter a document. More advanced capabilities in this area are typically classified as being content management, rather than document management.
Turn dumb documents into smart ones
Document management systems also allow you to move physical documents into the digital sphere. This ensures that all of your most important documents are in the same place and just a few clicks away — even if the workers accessing them are on different sides of the world. This is usually done through connection with tools like printers and scanners that can capture paper documents and digitise them. Without these tools, any printed documents that you’re using won’t be a part of your document management system, potentially creating confusion and making it impossible to collaborate on these documents.

The most common features of a document management system include:

  • A storage location: Your documents have to “live” somewhere in your network. This means they will either take up file space or, in the case of many more recent programs, be stored in the cloud.
  • Check-in/check-out: This feature allows you to control who is editing documents at any given time. Permission can be given and rescinded so that only one or a few people are on a document at any given time. This helps to prevent employees from writing over each other's edits. Overall, check-in/check-out streamlines document collaboration.
  • Version control: With so many changes being made quickly, keeping track of what draft you're working on can be challenging. Version control takes out the guesswork. This feature allows your team to see which version of a document they are working on. It also prevents accidental overwriting and allows you to have multiple drafts going at once. By keeping different versions as separate files, version control also allows you to backtrack to an earlier draft with ease.
  • Audit trails: An audit trail allows you to see when edits were made and who made them. These edits are usually shown visually as a log, meaning you can go through a document’s history and click back to reconstruct an older version of a document. In addition to its convenience, audit trails also serve as an important security feature. In the event of a breach, a trail of all your activities will allow you to identify when and how a document may have been manipulated.
  • Annotation and stamps: If you have suggestions or feedback on a document, but don’t want to write text directly into it or do the rewrites yourself, this feature is for you. With annotations, you can leave notes on your document and mark where exactly on the document you are leaving feedback. Stamps, meanwhile, work in a similar vein but actually appear on a document. These can include images and symbols, rather than typical text, that you have saved in your network. An example might include an image file of a signature, which can be placed in the appropriate place on a digital file, allowing you to sidestep the hassle of printing a document, signing it and scanning it back into your system.
  • Roll-back: This feature is best used in the event of a major error or premature release of a document. The roll-back means that your document management system takes a “snapshot” of a document at a regular interval of time. This allows you to restore an earlier version of a document with ease. Unlike version control, which maintains multiple drafts of a document at once, roll-back will actually revert your document to its earlier form.

While these are the most basic options, many document management systems have a variety of additional features. In some cases, a full document management system, with the specialised equipment you need to get the job done, will require multiple lines of software.

Epson’s Document Capture and Document Capture Pro , for example, were designed specifically to enhance a customer's ability to digitise paper documents. Document Capture and Document Capture Pro expand businesses’ capabilities through state-of-the-art document imaging. These programs are made to be seamlessly integrated into a larger document management system. With so many teams still working remotely, digitisation ensures everyone has access to the same information.

How it works

A full document management system will include multiple devices and programs to work with and offer a range of capabilities. For those looking to convert their physical documents into a digital format, the system usually begins with a scanner, multifunction printer or copier. These devices will need to have software, like Epson Document Capture or Document Capture Pro, that integrates your device with the rest of your document management system. This software will have the capability to convert your scan into a single file, most likely into a PDF, TIFF, JPEG, PNG or BMP format.

Document Management Systems

In addition to the scan device, new documents may be entering your system through email attachments from outside your network, a business system’s generated report or another application. Your document management system should be designed to capture documents from whatever sources your business has for its documents.

Once a document has been captured, it will be located in your central document storage. Central document storage is the place where all of your organisation’s documents “live.” Your management system will give you the ability to organise your documents in a logical way. Document storage will either be on a server for your internal network or utilise cloud computing. However your documents are stored, your system should be set up to ensure that your employees have access to the documents that are appropriate to them on whatever devices they use. This has become especially important in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and the push to remote work, since many employees may be working on personal devices or new take-home laptops.

Finally, a document management system should be designed for easy but secure document retrieval and distribution. This means that it is easy to find documents, pull them up and make edits.

In all, before you can begin installing a document management system, you’ll need to at least be able to identify how you want your documents to be organised, what templates you want to use and what internal and external people you’ll want to grant access to some or all of your documents. You may also want to determine what metadata, if any, you want your software to be able to pull from your documents.

While document management may seem complex and multifaceted, if implemented properly, it can make life at your company far easier. A document management system makes collaboration intuitive and distribution a pinch. It will also save your staff from having to come into the office and spend time digging for physical documents or searching through disorganised digital files and allow them to focus on doing the work you hired them to do. A document management system also means that you’ll be able to become a more versatile organisation, a must in today’s economy. Not being tied to in-office documents allow for effective remote work and collaboration no matter where in the world your staff is.

Configuring your DMS for the “new normal”

A document management system can be as simple as a single scanner and computer equipped with the right software. However, that kind of setup may not work for your organization, even if you have a relatively small staff. While it may be tempting to cut down on costs by investing in limited equipment, having more printers available and spread out around a workplace, also known as decentralised printing, can increase productivity, enable remote work flexibility and keep your team safe.

The current work landscape demands a certain amount of flexibility from employers. While many businesses have returned to the office, others are keeping workers home or offering them full- or part-time remote options. An effective, decentralised print strategy can help ensure that workers reap the benefits of a DMS wherever they are. Decentralised printing also helps keep teams safe in-office. A large gathering around a single scanner, printer or copier could become a potential hot spot for spreading COVID-19. By spreading devices out around the workplace, employers can help maintain social distancing and keep the return to work running on the right track.

Even in a world without a global pandemic, fewer steps to a printer means greater productivity. Even with their quick runtimes, your team may still find themselves waiting in line to use the device if there are only one or two available. Add in an extended walk from desk to device, and you’re looking at extended downtime with every new document that needs to be uploaded. A good rule of thumb is to opt for a ’20 Step Rule’ which means that each employee has a device within close proximity of their desk. The cost-benefits of this strategy will truly amaze.

Cloud computing and remote work

While decentralised printing strategy can help to facilitate productive remote and in-office work, you’ll still need the right software. Electing to use a cloud-based solution will ensure that everyone on your team can enjoy the benefits of a DMS. Cloud computing means that your documents and data are stored on an online server, rather than locally. Cloud-based document management systems work in very similar ways to local network-based ones and you can download the documents as you need them. Even before the pandemic, more and more businesses were making the switch to cloud software — and the trend has only picked up in the past year.

Although it may seem convenient to keep your software installed where you work, an on-site program can present IT headaches and hinder your remote capabilities. Workers who are working remotely won’t be able to access DMS software because they aren’t connected to the office’s internal server. While each employer may make different decisions about whether to outfit their employees’ home offices with a printer, allowing access to DMS tools, like document editing, is a key way to ensure business processes continue to run smoothly during an uncertain time.

In addition to the main draws of cloud computing for remote teams, these solutions can save you from having to store large files on your server and offers speed and agility to organisations looking to share their documents outside of your network. Larger documents can be sent in as little as a few minutes, depending on the available broadband strength. If your business is still working remotely or dealing with a large number of documents, a cloud-based document management solution is almost certainly the way to go.

Cloud storage

Epson document solutions

In addition to document management software that makes your life easier, Epson offers printing, copying and scanning solutions that work within your system seamlessly and increase your capabilities.

The Epson WorkForce ES-500WR scanner, for example, combines speed and smarts. The machine is capable of scanning up to 70 images per minute and has a 50 sheet auto document feed capacity. That means you can capture and digitise your documents fast, no matter their size.

Once a document is scanned, it can be converted directly to a searchable PDF, Word Excel or Google Docs. Smart features, such as the ability to auto-extract and categorise data and integration with QuickBooks and Quicken, make this scanner absolutely essential for planning your business’s finances.

In addition to the WorkForce ES-500WR, Epson offers the versatile Workforce DS-530 Document Scanners. Utilise the “slow mode” feature for crumpled or fragile documents, or set up the flatbed scanner conversion kit to process stamps, passports and book pages. The DS-530 comes loaded with features that make it ready for even the most untraditional scanning job. It also has the scanning speed you’ve come to expect from Epson, with a rate of 70 images per minute.

Both the WorkForce ES-500WR and the Workforce DS-530 are designed to easily integrate with your document management system. This means you no longer have to spend time worrying about what filing cabinet your documents are in, and can start making them better with the editing tools of your document management system.

To learn more about how Epson is transforming document management, and all of the products and innovations Epson has to offer your home, visit our home page today.

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