Your Complete Guide to Electronic File Management
Electronic file management makes it easy to process and save your critical business documents. Employees can instantly access the information they’re looking for, and you can automatically export your data into your other systems. You don’t have to spend valuable time and resources on paper-based processes, and your teams can work much more efficiently.
What is Electronic File Management?
In today’s digital-first environment, many companies already use electronic documents and email communications whenever possible. However, many business communications – like procurement requests and customer invoices – still involve hard-copy documents, fax networks, and old-fashioned postal mail.
Electronic document management is a more streamlined – and more modern – approach. You can convert your company’s hard-copy documents to digital files, then store them in a searchable archive. From there, your electronic records are accessible at a moment’s notice – to any authorized employee – from a computer or mobile device.
Electronic file management isn’t just a way to store your records – it also makes it easier for you to collect and process the data that your documents contain.
Computers can easily search an electronic file for specific information. But, when you – or the companies that you do business with – still rely on hard-copy documents, your employees need to process those documents by hand.
Document imaging lets you convert your paperwork to electronic files. This way, you can find the information you need without having to read each document line by line. Software can even complete certain data-driven processes – like invoice matching – to help you speed up your workflows even more.
When information is stored in a digital format, you can easily share that information across each of your individual business systems. An example: part numbers and prices can be taken directly from your customer order forms, then sent directly to your ERP.
When you connect your electronic file management software with your other platforms, your employees will always have access to your real-time information – without having to leave the programs they’re already working in. Meanwhile, you won’t have to waste resources on repetitive manual data entry.
Converting Hard-Copy Documents to Electronic Files
As you receive new hard-copy documents – either from your customers or suppliers – you can scan them in to your system. OCR software “reads” the individual characters on each page, then creates an electronic version of the paper document.
When you first transition to an electronic document management system, you’ll need to import your existing records. Once you’re up and running, you can continue to add new files as you go.
Documents that you receive electronically are even easier to process. You can save PDFs and other digital files right from your computer, or have them automatically imported from a monitored email address. From there, they’ll be classified and added to your document repository.
Data security is always a priority – whether you’re keeping your records in a physical archive or in the cloud. But with today’s technologies, digital document storage can more secure than dealing with hard-copy records. Your confidential paperwork won’t be lost or misplaced, and you can easily decide who should be able to access each file. Most document management programs also let you create comprehensive records of each user who has accessed a file (and when).
Backing Up Your Files
When you manage your files electronically, you don’t have to worry about important business documents being lost or destroyed. (Most document storage systems automatically create backups as new files are added.) You’re protected from unexpected disasters, and can easily maintain continuity in the event of a business disruption .
Automatic Document Disposal
Electronic document storage also makes it easy to destroy your records once they’re no longer needed. You can create a schedule based on your internal (or industry-mandated) records management policies, then let your software handle the rest. You don’t have to pay a third-party service to dispose of your documents, or deal with costly non-compliance fees.
Choosing an Electronic File Management System
Business document management software is a long-term investment. You can reasonably expect to rely on a solution for 5 to 10 years – potentially longer if you regularly receive new features through system updates.
When you’re choosing a records management system, you’ll want to prioritize:
- Software that can integrate with your current technologies. The premise of electronic file management is making your business information instantly accessible throughout your organization – and the best way to do that is to integrate your solution with your current technologies. This can be easier if you run on one of the major ERPs, but it can be more challenging if you use a custom system or a combination of platforms.
- Reliable and responsive support. From solution design through implementation and day-to-day use, you’ll need a vendor who can quickly answer your technical questions and resolve issues as they arise. With digital document management, a brief outage can limit your access to your critical data – making reliability incredibly important.
- Flexible, cross-departmental usability. Single-use solutions can be useful for smaller projects, but the highest ROI comes from enterprise software with multiple use cases. This is especially true for document archiving and data processing – functions that can benefit multiple business units across an organization.
When comparing document management companies, the technologies may be somewhat similar – but these considerations can help you find the best value for your project. You may also want to look for technical specifications such as:
- The ability to search through your document archiving system both directly and through your ERP
- The ability to access and process your business documents on a smartphone or tablet
- The ability to automatically capture, categorize, and process new files as they’re created in your ERP
- The ability to create custom workflows for each unique file type
Customize a File Management System for Your Company’s Needs
With IntelliChief, you can customize a solution that works the way that you work.
Our experts have helped hundreds of companies implement enterprise document management strategies across a wide range of industries – from manufacturing and distribution to insurance and healthcare. We’ve integrated our solutions with almost every ERP, and can help you update your technologies as your company grows.