What is Document Management? An Essential Guide for Strategy, Systems, and Solutions
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What is document management?
Document management refers to the process of receiving, tracking, storing, and managing documents throughout their useful lifespan. Business documents are vital strategic, financial, operational, and intellectual assets that are essential to daily business processes. Managing them effectively, either by using internal resources or by engaging a document process management (DPM) outsourcing partner, enables organizations to potentially meet a number of goals that might include:
- reducing costs
- increasing productivity
- improving document security
- centralizing data storage
- increasing access control
- providing superior audit trails
- streamlining search and retrieval
- enhancing business performance
- improve the customer experience
Business documents exist in multiple locations, formats and media, including electronic and paper. While they constitute the lifeblood of an organization, many companies rate their document management practices as less than effective. While it’s important to do so, few conduct assessments to analyze, streamline and optimize their document processes. Outsourcing DPM BPO services is a key strategy to help overcome these and other challenges.
What are document management outsourcing services?
Companies like Canon that provide document process management outsourcing services look to integrate technology, processes, people and data to seamlessly manage documents throughout their useful lifespan, from creation through archiving. The overriding goal is to maximize the utility of documents as critical business assets, and minimize document-related risks. Strategic outsourcing enables an enterprise to design and execute a sound program customized to meet the organization’s business objectives at, potentially, a reduced cost and lower risk.
Examples of document management services
The best outsourcing partners work with their clients to seamlessly integrate technology, processes, people and data to manage document assets throughout their lifespan of value. Typically, the IT department and business stakeholders start with an overall information governance framework. From there, areas of the business where critical documents are created and stored are evaluated, retention and destruction policies established, and a view is created of all crucial information assets to be maintained, stored and retrieved across the enterprise. For example, Canon solutions span print management, technology management, comprehensive mail services, imaging solutions, records and information governance, and professional document assessment services. Additionally, Canon project teams use advanced business performance management software and benchmarking tools to support document best practices and innovation for the future.
Implementing an effective document management strategy
An effective document process management strategy consists of five key components:
- Business Driven: Focused, centralized and aligned with business requirements
- Integrated: Unified across media, formats, enterprise functional areas and locations
- Policy Based: Clear, consistent and enforced
- Risk Management: Oriented to minimize compliance, litigation, financial and operational business risks
- Continuous Improvement: Innovation focused, utilizing performance management and benchmarking tools to identify and apply best practices
Benefits of automation and digitization
Businesses are rife with hardcopy and electronic documentation, including mail, contracts, applications, invoices, claims and more. If handled manually, processing, tracking and delivering this correspondence to stakeholders can be inefficient and costly. Fortunately, document management presents an ideal opportunity to leverage automation and digitization to deliver substantial benefits such as:
- Cost Savings. When you automate manual tasks, it helps centralize some of the most mission-critical information in your organization. It also increases processing velocity while decreasing resource allocation for basic and repeatable tasks. Automation reduces the errors in document management that have major downstream impact in departments like risk management, customer service and business intelligence.
- Intelligent Data Capture. Unstructured data accounts for up to 80% of your overall business information assets, and a great deal of this data exists in documentation. Automating and digitizing document management allows for intelligent data capture, which extracts this unstructured data to make it actionable. This data can also be seamlessly integrated into workflows and reporting across the business, creating faster insights and driving better collaboration.
- AI and Machine-Learning Ready. Digitizing your documents automatically doesn’t simply give structure to your unstructured data. It also vastly improves overall data quality and velocity, meaning your critical information can be further enriched with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning capability. This means that automated document management is a core pillar of your overall digital transformation and a true creator of new business value.
Engaging the right partner
Streamlining document management systems is not a core competency for most organizations. There is, however, no cookie-cutter strategy for finding the right document management services provider. Success will be dependent on matching your company’s unique needs and growth initiatives with a provider that has the expertise to deliver on your vision for the future. It is important to keep this point in mind because choosing the wrong partner can hinder rather than help. Here are three factors to consider when selecting your partner:
- Seek Flexibility. An integrated delivery model is a critical feature of the right services provider. Rapidly growing, transforming businesses must partner with providers who can meet those evolving needs and provide maximum adaptability — whether you need document management onsite, offsite or offshore.
- Value Expertise. Your document management needs are complex, and the right services provider will understand the unique circumstances of your organization and your industry. Look for a partner who has worked across industries, especially those with a high level of controls and compliance needs like financial services, insurance and healthcare.
- Leverage Straight-through Processing. The right managed services provider can perform data validation and enrichment routines to update extracted data. This can eliminate the need for manual verification and validation steps downstream.
Advantages of digitizing mail
One critical opportunity to automate and digitize documentation is in the mailroom. Mail is often a chokepoint in a business and has major impact downstream — to manually receive, sort, classify and deliver your mail is labor-intensive and subject to error, all of which can be costly and detrimental to productivity across the enterprise. A Canon Digital Intake Center is an automated, digital mail processing solution that addresses these challenges in several ways. One is that it reduces costs. When you automate and digitize your mail intake, it reduces the need for manual interaction — hand-sorting and delivering. This means that critical information can get into the right hands, and begin working for you in a fraction of the time, controlling your overhead and liberating talent for revenue-driving tasks.
Digital mail also can enhance efficiency. Digitizing mail helps you systematize your processes; intake, processing, classifying and delivering happens automatically, creating a more frictionless experience across the organization. Third, a digital mail solution can help your organization improve customer service. Today’s digital customer demands rapid response time. Manual mail processing slows down the flow of business-critical information and delays action that matters to your most important clients. By automating and digitizing, you can increase your response times, better serve customers, and increase your top-line growth. In addition to all of these potential benefits, digital mail is also gaining widespread acceptance by many organization due to their shift to a remote/hybrid workforce model.
Document management in action
Following is an example of how a major North American insurance company teamed with its managed services partner to drive a transformation that is yielding positive business benefits. As the insurer looked to grow and scale its business, the company found that its existing partner couldn’t deliver the expertise, cost-savings and innovative potential they needed. Canon stepped in and immediately created a long-term roadmap, built on automated and digitized document management. This included creating a centralized system to rapidly digitize documentation and reduce the resources necessary to meet the company’s specialized printing needs. Our team launched a Digital Intake Center to digitize the mail, which increased productivity and transformed the physical workspace, creating a more open and collaborative environment while also reducing mail processing time, liberating talent for high-impact activity, and cutting costs.
Even more importantly, the new document management approach opened the door for a host of other innovative opportunities. By reducing manual processes, opportunities for full robotic process automation (RPA) arose; centralized, digitized documentation created new sources of actionable data, allowing the insurer to leverage analytics tools for better decision-making. Eventually, these new data streams could be enriched by machine learning and artificial intelligence to drive additional insights. And Canon’s integrated delivery system (ability to provide solutions onsite, offsite and/or offshore) gave the insurer maximum flexibility for however and wherever the company needed to grow. The insurer is reaping such benefits as greater operational efficiency, better security and compliance, reduced costs, and access to data-driven insights that serve as a foundation for continuous process improvement.