Coleman Data’s document management solutions entail everything from imaging and indexing your paper documents, to converting and integrating your current electronic records for a new system, to a comprehensive document management solution. We also can create custom software to work with your existing system so it can interact with electronic documents, in the form of locating, retrieval, and complete data management. Our custom data solutions allow for document interaction on any platform.
Solutions solve problems. Managing paper documents and electronic data in an organization are both large problems because of the sheer amounts of it generated, along with the different types. In both cases, the records are scattered in varying locations – in other words, unstructured and many times, disconnected.
Technology can be both the source of the management problem and its solution. Retention and use of paper documents has not disappeared or been reduced as a benefit of electronically formatted data alone. In fact, it increased. At least in the earlier years of mass computer usage in business, technology just allowed more and more information to be available.
“Email is increasing print volumes by 40%” (Document Magazine 2005/Xplor Intl.)
Consumption of uncoated free-sheet paper (the most commonly used in offices) increased by approximately 15% from 1995-2000. (The Myth of the Paperless Office, 2002, A Sellen and R Harper).
A more recent study on paper consumption shows that total paper and paperboard consumption in N. America has decreased 24% from 2006-2009. Here is a graph that shows the numbers (page 4), but note also that at the same time, China’s consumption increased at about the same rate.
It is possible that businesses started to use electronic document management solutions in recent years and this is affecting paper usage in the US. The technology has improved. Instead of just being able to put information in single electronic file formats, it is now possible to index and integrate data, in addition to managing it all from any one location.
The other possibility may have more to do with economic activity (growth and recession) of the nations highlighted than actual new business practices having any effect on reducing paper usage.
From our experience, management of both paper based and electronic information is a major problem in organizations, and is one looking for a solution.
Compliance with Regulatory Requirements
HIPAA, HITECH, FINRA, FERPA, OSHA, to name but a few acronyms of major and expanding regulatory requirements that make creating, securing, locating, and retaining your documents a must. To get a better idea of the influence of governmental regulations’ influence on managing your documents correctly, try this search in Google – cfr document retention. Page after page of references to regulations are returned and these are just federal ones and only referencing regulations related to document retention requirements for various industries.
There are also state regulations. There are accreditation requirements with respect to documentation. Furthermore, retention is just one part of the regulatory themes involving document control. There are then additional themes, in addition to retention, that touch on areas related to retrieval for audit/accounting purposes, security, and privacy.
For compliance considerations alone, electronic document management solutions are attractive. They have an answer to all of the regulatory concerns:
• Retention requirements – the most obvious benefit to retaining data in electronic form is that you no longer need massive amounts of storage space for filing cabinets and boxes. You can even have multiple copies for backup purposes
• Easy retrieval – audit purposes, litigation, client requests for information (students and FERPA)
• Security – HIPAA/HITECH are a couple of examples. Electronic files can be encrypted. A document management solution means access to data is controlled by assigning user roles in the software. There is also an audit trail so an organization knows who touched what file and when.
• Privacy considerations involve both security and confidentiality issues and policies and procedures geared toward each respective regulation – which creates mounds of paperwork
Consider the ever-growing amount of information that needs managed by organizations. Whether paper or electronic form, staff must interact with it in such a way that business processes operate smoothly. Now, consider managing this growing amount of information, while keeping labor costs under control, and while using pretty much the same document storage & management practices that were used pre-computer age. Without more advanced records management in place, consider what can go wrong (and does) with business processes as a result.
• Customers are waiting for information while staff is rifling though paper files
• Staff A is not in the office today and they have the requested data source on their computer. Staff B does not have access to the same information on their computer but does have the client in their ear. This can also happen with multiple office locations
• A storm has caused flooding in the main document storage area, which happens to be in the basement (insert other natural disaster scenario here)
• A federal regulatory enforcement agency is conducting an audit. The good news is that there is plenty of warning. The bad news is that staff will still be working over time to ‘prepare’
• Business is good and scaling up. The problem is; there is not enough physical space to accommodate the growth.
• Documents are lost – whether through misfiling or just vanishing somehow
• Staff is on the road and while attempting to conduct business, is unable to access needed information
Some Benefits of Document Management Solutions
Organizations can get rid of most of the filing cabinets – one DVD+DL can replace 15 four-drawer filing cabinets, or 150k documents. Electronic storage formats include DVD, Windows, or Cloud (SaaS).
Multiple electronic copies can be made for backup purposes. This has advantages for security and disaster recovery purposes. Even in a power outage situation, critical data can be accessed from the backup source. Documents cannot get lost if there is a backup.
A document management solution provides a clear audit trail of your data. An organization will know when each document was accessed, by whom, and what was done with it. Electronic image formats prevent editing of data.
Customers get the information they want, when they want it. Location of requested information is a click away at all times.
Sharing of information becomes effortless, whether within the organization or outside of it. There is less expense involved with duplication when all that have proper authorization within the DM system, can access the same documents from their own locations.
For compliance issues, a document management solution will address security, privacy, retrieval, and retention requirements.
• File encryption, audit trails, authorized user rules which control access to the documents – instead of just anyone walking by and opening a paper based folder or cabinet, backup copies, image formats prevent tampering of regulatory data
• Instant location and retrieval of documents
• Retention is only limited by the amount of space available for DVDs or your own in-house system. Retention space is unlimited for cloud based solutions
How much is Needed?
This is a legitimate question and the answer is that it depends on each organization’s unique needs. There are complete solutions that involve imaging and indexing all historical & current paper records, in addition to converting any electronic files in such a way that makes them operable with the new solution.
The imaging and indexing part can be one piece or a complete solution as there are multiple choices in how that is done. An organization can have just the historical documents imaged, or the day forward ones as needed. Some are only looking at storage and retrieval issues and imaging and indexing alone is a solution.
Others want or need a more comprehensive document management solution, yet have concerns about the difficulty in implementing and maintaining one or have budget considerations. This scenario is where the technology has gotten to the point where it offers a complete solution now, instead of continuing to add to document management problems.
Cloud/Web Based Solutions
Coleman Data Solutions has partnered with Docunym to offer a cloud/web based document management system. Cloud based document management solutions offer an inexpensive, maintenance free choice. This solution not only provides all of the benefits as noted before (security, retrieval, & retention), any organization of any size have the means to obtain it.
Cloud solutions are completely web based. This means there is no software to install or maintain, as this is your service provider’s responsibility. This greatly reduces expenses.
How it Works
You log into the system from anywhere you have internet access. From there, you can convert your paper documents to electronic images, which are securely stored in their repository. Note: you convert them by scanning them into the system. If you do not have a TWAIN compliant scanner, we offer imaging services. FTP and email attachment loading of your documents also comes with this solution.
You own and control all of your documents and are just leasing their space and software to load, retrieve and interact with your data. Existing electronic documents can also be placed in your cloud location. Some of the formats include TIFF, PDF, Word, & Excel.
Locating and retrieving your documents in the cloud is just a search away. All files added to your location in the cloud are indexed with keywords to allow for easy retrieval. In addition to the required document type, name, and location identifiers, you may also add other index keywords associated with the documents. Furthermore, you may specify the document(s) be included in a workflow process. Searches involve inputting a value, which searches all of the index values, as well as full-text/OCR.
This solution uses AWS (Amazon Web Services) for the cloud location and Docunym’s document management software to control it all.
Coleman Data Solutions has expertise in a variety of pre-set and custom document management solutions. We also offer any type of document conversion services desired. Call or contact us to talk about imaging and indexing needs, or to explore comprehensive document solutions. We can show you how it works with a demo.