Beginner's Guide to Document Management

What is Document Management?

Can you imagine a paperless office? One with files stored electronically, instead of in file cabinets? When you think document management, think going paperless. 

Document management leads to efficiency, cost savings and automation.

First, let’s define three key terms:

1. Document Management

Document Management itself involves converting paper files into digital files. It gives you the ability to store, archive and retrieve your documents in electronic form.

2. Workflow Automation

Workflow automation is a part of document management, which takes electronic documents and sends them automatically and securely throughout your organization. This is useful for approvals, information sharing, efficiency and process improvement.

3. Automated Data Capture

Automated data capture means using OCR (optical character recognition) software to read data and enter it into your document management system. OCR takes away the need to manually enter data. It is customizable and a big time and accuracy saver.

Learn more about the basics of document management systems.



Five Reasons Your Documents Need to Be Digital

We hear from many clients who need help getting their masses of files under control. Many consider transitioning to a paperless office.

Going paper-free can happen in two ways:

What you need will vary depending on your size and how many documents you process in a day, month or year.

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Five Reasons to Turn Your Paper Files Digital:

1. Minimize Document Storage Security Risks

A common timeframe for document storage requirements is seven years. Document management software can notify you at the end of seven years and you can then determine whether to remove files from your system. Removing files after that time requirement reduces your liability risk during an audit. You retain the option to keep any documents you wish. The system will never delete documents without approval. Electronic storage removes the risk of losing files in a fire or flood. Many organizations use document management software for disaster recovery. They like knowing they'll always have the files they need.

2. Reduce Wasted Space

All those paper documents need to be stored somewhere. With document management, your paper files become digital. This allows you to repurpose file cabinet and/or warehouse space.

3. Go Paperless and Help the Environment

Storing your documents electronically means you’re using less paper, which is always good for the environment.

4. Save Time

Manage business process efficiency with workflows. Save your employees time and make it easier for remote workers to access documents. Document management systems increase the  convenience of storage and retrieval in your office.

5. Cut Costs

People recognize they can’t keep everything on paper forever, and storage costs can add up. One law office we work with had 100,000 boxes in a storage facility before turning their paper files digital. A document management system means no more paying to store paper files. 

Top Problems Solved by Document Management Systems

  • No more misplaced documents.
  • Get rid of extra file cabinets.
  • Secure your documents.
  • Automate invoice approval.
  • Reduce repetitive tasks.
  • Prevent sloppy process degeneration.

Read more about six real workplace headaches solved with a document management system.

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Where Document Management Fits in Your Organization

Accounts Payable Automation

Many Accounts Payable (AP) departments handle bills on paper. Massive gains in productivity are possible using document management and AP automation.

Expedite Approvals

Scan invoices into your document management system so your accounting team, the purchaser and any approvers can see them. They can also track where invoices are in the approvals process. Routing invoices through email workflows automates and speeds up your approvals process.

Automate Reminders

Reminders are automated through email, so you don’t have to ask approvers over and over again for a response.

No More Manual Data Entry

OCR automated data capture extracts data from an invoice. Data is then put directly into your document management or accounting system, so your team doesn’t need to manually type data into the system.

Automatic and Trackable Three-Way Match

Simplify the three-way match process and give your accounting and finance departments visibility over bottlenecks that prevent on-time payments.

Keep Your Existing AP Processes in Place

Your invoice processes can be customized according to your organization’s requirements.

Whether or not you have a PO process currently in place, automations provided by a document management system can help your AP team reclaim valuable time they currently spend tracking down approvers and/or matching POs to invoices.

See how AP automation is made possible with a document management system.

Document management is also a valuable tool to an Accounts Receivable (AR) department. Document management increases visibility into your organization’s cash flow by electronically tracking orders and payments. You can also eliminate manual data entry, improve records retention, route sales orders to the correct department and use electronic forms for delivery and acceptance documentation.

Human Resources Records Automation

HR is paper-intensive, but does it have to be? From your new-hire application and on-boarding process, to management of employee benefits, merit increases, certification tracking, expense reports, records retention requirements and access to employee files, document management can make daily work for HR faster and easier.

Streamline Processes with Electronic Forms

Customize electronic forms to your organization’s unique needs. Enter data only once and push it throughout your organization.

Improve On-boarding and Off-boarding

Data from applications and new employee setup does not have to be re-entered. Electronic forms mean simplified record keeping from hiring to retirement.

Secure and Reduce Paper for Documentation

Reduce your paper usage and the time spent filling out paper forms. Instead, make them digital. You can also improve security with user authorization requirements for data access.

Improved Tracking for Employee Record Retention

Automate notifications when employee records have expired, including retention requirements and certifications.

Read more about how you can elevate your HR department to superstar status with document management.

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Electronic Forms

Any paper form used in your organization can be made electronic. You will find uses for electronic forms across many departments. For example:

  • Human Resources Onboarding and other HR forms (I-9s, W-2s, etc.)
  • Expense Reports
  • Mortgage & Loan Applications
  • Patient/Client Registration – HIPAA Compliance
  • Purchase Orders
  • Sales Orders
  • Questionnaires
  • Feedback Forms
  • Student Enrollment
  • Shipping/Delivery Receipts

Learn more about electronic forms and how they are used by human resources departments, delivery drivers, accounts receivable teams and more.


Down with Manual Data Entry! OCR Automated Data Capture

Manual data entry is a waste of time. It's a task most employees do not enjoy and can riddle your systems with inaccuracies.

OCR automated data capture reads your documents, understands them and extracts the data. It then classifies the document and stores the information in your existing database, accounting system, document management system or other electronic storage option.

OCR automated data capture can read any document you can. Depending on how much automation you need, you can set up templates to read specific document configurations. If you need more automation, intelligent capture knows how to find what you’re looking for on any document.

Learn more about OCR automated data capture.

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Will Document Management Save Your Organization Money?

Our easy online calculator can give you an answer. It estimates labor costs associated with your current document handling processes, along with off-site storage and retrieval costs, in-house document filing and retrieval needs, and the costs associated with reproducing lost documents. The calculator also tells you whether a document management system will provide an attractive return on investment for your organization.

How to Get Started with Document Management

Once you’re decided to go paperless, Loffler can help you get started. That may mean scanning the paper documents you already have into an electronic format. It may also mean helping you integrate document management, workflow automation and automated data capture into your organization.

First, we recommend determining your unique needs for a document management system. To determine what level of document management and automation is right for your organization, consider your:

  • Storage, retrieval and automation goals
  • Budget
  • Maintenance abilities
  • Security standards
  • Compliance requirements
  • Mobility Needs

Our post on determining which document management system is right for you will help define your needs.

Learn More About Electronic Document Management at Loffler

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