Document management is crucial to business success

alphabet-1480105We live in the information age and thanks to the internet and developments in technology, information is available whenever and wherever we need it. However, although super-fast access to information is widely acknowledged as being crucial for success in business, a surprising number of companies and organisations are failing to embrace the latest developments in document management.

Documents have been organised in one way or another for centuries: whether it’s a simple alphabetised system, or one of the highly-complex filing systems used by governments or large organisations. Businesses need to manage documentation but even in these days of digital archives and cloud document storage; there are still companies who spend far much time searching for documents which have been ‘lost.

Everyone knows this and most organisations have at least one or two employees with a reputation for hanging on to mountains of disorganised, un-filed paperwork and documentation. In the worst cases there are still some big businesses who remain unconvinced of the benefits that digital document management can bring.

It’s staggering to think that according to recent figures, 95% of the 30 billion invoices processed across Europe in 2010 were still handled in a way that required manual data entry. To put this into perspective: this means that more than 28 billion invoices were moved from desk to desk and from person to person. Phew! The startling truth behind these figures is that invoices which have been completed manually will cost 20 times more to process than those which have been processed electronically.

A report released in 2012 found that information workers spent a staggering 20% of their time looking through and searching for paper documentation. In addition, they also wasted more than ten hours each week looking for but failing to find documents, reproducing lost documents and other unnecessary, time-wasting tasks.

If we continue to use invoices as an example, it’s not just the issue of cost which is the only negative aspect of a continued reliance on outdated methods of dealing with invoices. Independent research carried out by the document management industry has discovered that during the time it takes for an invoice to work its way through a system, 20% of its time is spent during transport processing, 5% during actual processing and during the final 75% of the time the invoice is doing nothing at all!

Why does this happen? Put simply, too many businesses and public sector organisations use workflows which have been designed to rely upon large amounts of managerial or supervisor attention in order to get anything done. However, there is one major exception to this rule and that is finance departments. Perhaps unsurprisingly, finance departments are bucking the trend with 52% of finance departments working towards a ‘paper-lite’ strategy, in comparison to 26% in operations and manufacturing, and just 20% in IT.

Although finance departments are proving to be successful when it comes to making the most of document management technology, the rest of the business world needs to catch up – fast. Despite the fact that paper gets into companies faster than ever before there is still a huge lag once paperwork leaves a finance department. Despite the fact that some organisations – especially SMEs – need to watch their cash flow carefully, there are significant implications for businesses which still insist on holding on to invoices and keeping them inactive for 75% of the time. When this happens it puts a strain on business to business relationships, on suppliers and the economy as a whole because business is restricted. Making late payments is often taken as a sure sign that a business is in trouble and this in turn can lead to less favourable payments terms.

With this in mind, there really is no room for complacency when it comes to the management of documents. Document management software must be a priority for businesses large and small and thanks to the healthy document management market in the UK, there’s never been a better time to embrace everything that document management technology has to offer.