What is Electronic Document Management?

Digital-asset-lifecycleElectronic Document Management is a combination of system hardware and software that allows users to capture information from any number of derivatives used during the course of the business day, i.e. paper, fax, e-mail, photographs, computer generated data and even hand written notes.

The captured documents are then scanned and stored digitally on a computer system, reducing storage costs and eliminating retrieval headaches.

Users can file, store, copy, retrieve and integrate documents into their business applications. Whether for a single desktop or a multi-user environment, Electronic Document Management:

  • improves control over business documents,
  • helps users organise workflow,
  • facilitates the sharing of information.

Document Management exists to put businesses in control of the mountains of paper-based information that they have to deal with every day. It is estimated that 90% of information is in the form that computers cannot understand (e.g., paper documents, newspaper clippings and photographs). This is all known as documentary information.

The other type of information, which accounts for the other 10%, is that which is stored in a computer. This is called coded information and can be defined as “factual data, structured data or data that can be analyzed using arithmetic and logical deduction” (ref: CIMTECH).

Coded information does not, however, just emerge from thin air. It comes from documented information, which all has to go somewhere. However, more money has been invested in manipulating the information than in developing efficient methods of managing documentary information.

Information Technology (IT) has become a vital component of most sectors of the global economy. To compete effectively, companies are forced to invest in technology to improve efficiency and capabilities. Companies world-wide spend on average 2.5% of their total revenue on IT development and implementation.

The continuing rapid advances in technology are driving businesses to continually upgrade existing systems, in order to compete effectively in the competitive global economy.

Some interesting facts

Paying for filing cabinets, office space and employees to manage documentary information is costly. CIMTECH (Centre for Information Management and Technology, Hatfield, U.K.) estimates that, on average, 10% of a company’s resources are spent finding and managing documentary information.

In recognition of this, more and more businesses are turning to Document Management Systems for their companies to remain competitive and to offer customer service.

To store and manage documents in a business isn’t easy, or inexpensive, whichever method you choose. If you think that bulging filing cabinets gathering dust in the corner of an office don’t cost anything, think again.

In a study by Project Blue Lion – United Kingdom, 1995. “Finding a document costs an estimated £14 per year – and if it is misfiled it could cost you an average of £84 per year.”

No fewer than 10 000 filing cabinets are delivered each month to businesses in the U.K. There is at least one filing cabinet for each of the U.K.’s 13.5 million office workers. The fact is that approximately half of all initial information searches fail to produce the correct document.

In a survey by the Giga Information Group, American businesses generate over 1 trillion pages of paper documents each year. 2.7 billion pieces of paper go into filing cabinets every day.