One of the key recurring questions I hear from people trying to figure out how to organize their files is: “What exactly is document management?” and it’s often followed by, “Isn’t that just DropBox with more features?”
Technically, you can absolutely use DropBox (along with Google Drive, OneDrive, iCloud, etc.) to backup and store your documents. It’s a fair question, but it’s rooted in a consumer context; not a corporate context. If you want to make sure your personal photos, videos, music, and documents are safe and sound, you don’t really need a DMS. You can create and organize an intricate system of folders on any cloud storage platform.
However, when deciding whether a document management system or cloud storage is most suited to your needs, you just have to ask yourself a few key questions:
- How important are the documents you’re dealing with?
- How fast can you find those documents no matter how many there are? In 3 seconds?
- Can you afford to lose those documents?
- Does your daily operations in a business context revolve around your documents?
- Do you have people outside of your organization who count on you to maintain those documents?
- Do the terms HIPAA, FINRA, and SEC mean anything to you?
There are more questions you can ask yourself, but they should all point to the complexity of your daily process and if your documents are a focal point to its survival. There could be a nondisclosure agreement that would mean the difference between keeping a $50,000/year client and a lawsuit. Essentially, the cloud’s core function is storage, while document management’s core function is organization, operation, and preservation.
5 Differentiators between Document Management and Cloud Storage
A document management system is built to seamlessly integrate document or data capture, document storage, editing, workflow, and retention in a single platform. Files of any type can be uploaded and managed using collaboration, version control, and workflow. A DMS will also provide integrated tools for electronic approval and signature.
The right people receive the right document at the right time and can collaborate on, edit, and sign it in real time with an automated system to make sure everything is in its right place when a process is complete. This well-oiled machine guarantees increased efficiency and compliance.
All important documents, with edits and versions, are organized into a clean, meticulously tracked record. Anything that needs to be accessed is easily locatable, and anything that has a timeline or expiration can be marked and categorized accordingly. Once records become final (they are no longer being edited), the system locks them until their scheduled destruction date. Records Managers are alerted to purge the expired records. This structure helps to increase productivity and reduce costs.
The permissions and limits granted to users are fully customizable based on their roles. Who has touched each document and what they did to it is logged to create an easy-to-follow audit trail. This safeguarding of your information assets ensures your information is secure. Information is encrypted while being transmitted from your computer to our data center and then encrypted when stored preventing unauthorized access.
If you need to keep official paperwork ready to comply with government regulations and organizations such as HIPAA, FINRA, and the SEC, you now have immediate access to exactly what you need, even in the midst of consistent changes to requirements and regulations. A DMS enforces the structure needed to comply with regulatory requirements.
These five components connect to and serve each other in many more ways than simply the linear fashion illustrated above, but they are all integral to the cycle that DMS sets in motion.
If you take nothing else away from this, remember: the cloud is about storage, and document management is about organization, operation and preservation. We may have a little DMS bias over here, but in the end, there really is no “versus” between document management systems and cloud storage, as they both deal with a completely different set of priorities and processes.
It’s up to you to decide what your priorities and processes are, and what system can be used to benefit them.