Your Document Management Knowledge Center

Document Management: Important or Urgent?

Ever have someone at work tell you they are busy putting out fires?  Ever worked in organization that has a new crisis every day?  Putting out fires or constantly dealing with a new crisis is unproductive.  So how does an organization get out of fire fighting and crisis mode?

Years ago I took a management class that stressed focusing on the important issues in an organization.  The class divided issues into 2 segments: Important and Urgent.  Important items were ones that would make an impact on the organization.  Urgent items were ones that needed immediate attention.  When you put the two together, you have items that fall into these

•    Important and urgent
•    Important, but not urgent
•    Not important, but urgent
•    Not important and not urgent

The concept they taught, and that I fully endorse, is that focusing on the important issues creates a climate where fewer fires start in the first place.  Further, while it might be tempting to focus on the items that are both important and urgent, the only way to truly make this work is to focus on the items based on how important they are.
What people who fight fires do is to focus on the urgent items based on who is screaming the loudest.  Organizations that have this type of culture stagnate and do not get things done.  They don’t move forward and over time can completely fail.

Even when the concept is fully explained and completely accepted, people revert back to working on the urgent items.  It’s human nature to want to look like the hero and put out the fire.

However, it takes true leadership to ignore the fires and focus on the long term strategic goals.  Working towards your goals generates much more value for an organization.

So how does this apply to document management?  Many of our customers come to us because they are fighting a fire and document management will help put it out.  The more progressive organizations see the long term benefit and start thinking strategically about how to use document management to improve efficiency or to gain a competitive edge.  Moving the thought process from urgent to important is what we do almost every day.

Unfortunately, until we help put out the fire for the customer, they usually won’t plan for the future.  The key is to look at how putting out the fire can be used to produce long term benefits.  Once organizations look beyond the crisis of the moment, they can succeed.

In the meantime, we will continue to help customers put out fires.  But we will always stress fire prevention as a better plan. Read more about how we can help you with our special offers.

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Records Management: You’re keeping the paper, "just in case"

You’re working electronically; yet somehow you’re still accumulating paper. You’re keeping the paper, “just in case”. Just in case there’s a computer virus, or an audit, or a business need for the records. 

Far from being a safeguard, uncontrolled duplication of records is expensive and risky.

Benefits of Electronic Records

Digitized or electronic documents require less physical storage, they’re easily searchable, and backup for business continuity can be automated. Although many organizations scan paper records as they arrive, most haven’t implemented a disposition policy to destroy the paper. Today, most documents begin life in electronic format, yet many people continue to print hard copies and add them to paper files.

It’s estimated that the volume of information generated by businesses is growing by 60 per cent each year. At that rate, it’s no longer feasible to keep every document forever, and it’s important to minimize duplication and adhere to legal retention requirements.

Multiple copies lead to unnecessary costs and risks associated with:

•    Storage – multiple copies fill premium office space, off-site warehouses, removable media, and network hard drives.

•    Mismanagement – multiple copies are more difficult to control, file and retrieve. They increase the likelihood of security breaches or inappropriate disposal. This can result in fines and other sanctions for non-compliance with regulatory requirements; and in the loss of competitive advantage if intellectual property or commercially valuable business intelligence is compromised.

•    Litigation – multiple copies mean more places to search during the discovery phase (increasing time and costs). It may also raise questions about the evidential weight of records.

•    Business Continuity – multiple copies make it more difficult to identify the subset of ‘vital records’ which must be protected at all costs. This can result in a higher risk of accidental loss, deletion or inaccessibility. Liability insurers are increasingly considering retention policies and discovery-preparedness in their underwriting decisions. Poorly managed records can affect the cost or availability of insurance coverage.

Why then are companies investing time and money to maintain parallel filing systems?
Some companies aren’t sure whether electronic records are legally admissible; or whether paper records carry greater evidential weight. Others are doubtful of the quality and reliability of scanned documents. Many are uncertain about the required retention periods for paper records, email and digital documents.

A records management program can clarify these questions and alleviate concerns – allowing an organization to maximize the value of its business information and minimize the associated cost and risks.

The Solution – a Records Management Program

Gaining control over corporate information can seem daunting. Yet it’s absolutely essential for regulatory compliance. A records management program is a key component to reduce the complexity and cost of any GRC (governance, risk management and compliance) initiative.
Reducing the volume of paper records that must be stored and managed is the first step to moving fully into an electronic working environment. If you don’t take the plunge today, it’ll be twice as challenging next year.

A records management program should include:

•    An information management policy which sets out the overarching framework of rules and responsibilities for controlling corporate information. It demonstrates to a court of law that information management is part of normal business operations.

•    A classification scheme that identifies the different types of records created or received by the organization. It groups similar records together into categories that are easier to find, use and manage. The classification scheme can be used to indicate which categories of records are suitable for scanning (and which are not), based on the regulatory requirements that apply to particular types of documents.

•    A retention policy that’s developed through an analysis of the company’s specific legal obligations, business needs for information to support daily operations, and the interests of any additional stakeholders.

•    The secure disposal of records should be carried out on a regular schedule, in accordance with an approved procedure. Local and international case law indicates that courts will approve routine destruction of records in accordance with established procedures. Developing a security policy helps to protect the integrity of corporate information and reduce the risk of a challenge to its authenticity.

Legal Admissibility

Legal recognition and requirements for electronic records are contained in the Electronic Transactions Law and the Evidence Law. Your records management program should provide a framework of policies and procedures to maximize the evidential weight of scanned images, and reduce the risks associated with destruction of paper files.
Where records are required for legal or regulatory purposes, an electronic record is acceptable if it is maintained in an accessible, perceivable form. It must also be accompanied by contextual information (metadata) which substantiates the provenance of the record – confirming the time, place and the person(s) responsible for creating or receiving the record.
Companies should also examine their specific legal or statutory provisions to identify any requirements to keep records in their “original form”. Such requirements can be met by a record that was first generated as an electronic record. If a document was originally a paper record, some industries require that the paper record is safeguarded and retained for a certain number of years.
Organizations should seek legal advice with regard to the types of documents most likely to be disputed in court, and assess the risks associated with maintaining or destroying the original paper records that have been scanned.
Questions about the quality and reliability of scanned images can be addressed by implementing procedures and technical standards for the conversion process, for quality control and IT system administration. It’s necessary to demonstrate that the image is an accurate representation of the source document via:

a)    clearly defining the conversion procedure, which explains any changes applied to the image (e.g. conversion from color to black-and-white, de-skewing, cropping, etc.),

b)    capturing and managing the image in a system that can control and track its use and prevent any subsequent modification (establishing an audit trail), and

c)    maintaining and operating the system properly.

An audit trail of activity for records, users and systems administrators is important for proving authenticity and demonstrating the record’s ongoing integrity.

As a critical corporate asset, information should also be addressed in plans for business continuity and disaster recovery. The classification scheme can be used to identify categories of records that are vital for ongoing operations. Appropriate strategies can then be devised to ensure the backup and long-term accessibility of those records.

Electronic records offer many benefits for business efficiency. However, they may also expose companies to significant risks, if they’re not pro-actively managed.

A robust records management program combined with an electronic document and records management application, with defined policies and implemented procedures, reduces the costs and risks associated with managing corporate information. It can be used to determine whether paper records are suitable for scanning into digital formats, and to enable the disposal of original hard copies – generating a range of potential savings for the organization, and mitigating the risks associated with retaining multiple, uncontrolled copies.

Bob Leonard, our guest blogger, is the managing director of acSellerant specializing in online, inbound, content and social media marketing for SMB IT providers.
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Non Profit Contract Management and Compliance Solutions to be Highlighted at the 2010 InsideNGO Annual Member Conference

Tampa, FL. – June 29, 2010 - The management teams of non-governmental organizations constantly ask themselves – how can my organization better carry out its purpose and mission?

As they focus their attention on maintaining healthy relationships with the public to meet their goals, the last thing they need to worry about is the back-end operations. These operations may include board management, contract processing and execution, and managing the retention period of documents for compliance.

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Executive Management Focusing on Disaster Recovery of Information

Since businesses' growth opportunities aren't quite at their peak right now (to say the very least), many executive managers are spending more time and attention on internal processes. Many organizations have become more involved in disaster recovery (DR) strategies and DR budgeting initiatives for the remainder of this year and for 2010.

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DocuVantage's Contract With Florida Statewide IT Renewed

Tampa, Fla. (September 25, 2009) Document Advantage Corporation, (DocuVantage), a provider of online document, business process automation and records management solutions, announced today that its purchasing contract with the State of Florida was renewed. As part of this agreement DocuVantage's enterprise document and content management services may be purchased through the State of Florida's online exchange for buyers and vendors, MyFloridaMarketPlace (MFMP). This contract with the Florida Division of State Purchasing, listed under Information Technology Consulting Services, recognizes DocuVantage as an approved vendor within MFMP.

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An Affordable Solution for Credit Unions to Reduce Costs and Maintain Compliance

Although most financial institutions are challenged by the current economic situation, credit unions are especially under pressure to make sound financial decisions. Credit unions are owned and controlled by their members. They want to ensure that the credit union is always making business decisions that will benefit the members, and that budgets are not exceeded. Because of this, credit unions hesitate to allocate money towards implementing the newest technology.

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A Reduction in Volunteers and Revenue Requires Nonprofits to Look for an Automated Approach for Workflow Improvements

The economy has hit businesses hard and it's causing a ripple effect in the nonprofit industry. To save on costs due to a reduction in revenue, companies have not only cut the donations they have given to charities in the past, but they have reduced available volunteer hours due to a reduction in staff and the need to have more people working in the office driving revenue. This cut in donations and volunteers has left non-profits with a heavy burden.

While many organizations are built of teams that wear many hats, this could not be truer for a nonprofit. With fewer volunteers in the field, the staff in the office now needs to get involved outside the office, causing workflows to back-up.

Technology can play an integral role in making the job of these non-profits easier. However, most non-profits struggle with information technology because of the lack of resources; IT expertise and money to fund technology.

It's important for non-profits to allocate the time to research what software and hardware solutions may be available to help them better manage their business. Often times, spending a small amount on technology to improve your business can save you a greater amount of money in other areas, including hiring more staff. One of the greatest areas where savings can be realized is in workflow and processing of paper documents.

Many non-profit organizations spend extra time processing their paperwork in a traditional manner because their technology budgets just do not include the funds for expensive, up-to-date software which typically needs hardware as well. These organizations can benefit from an inexpensive and easy alternative in which they will not have to rely on an IT support team to properly function. An online application that includes document management and compliance management is an affordable, easy-to-use, alternative providing immediate ROI...

How would an electronic document management (EDM) system satisfy the needs of a non-profit organization (NPO)?

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Online Document Management Improves Affordable Housing Efficiency

Many citizens struggle to make their mortgage payments as the foreclosure crisis impacts communities. Because of this, affordable housing departments are experiencing an influx of applications for funding assistance with First Time Home Buyer Down Payments, Housing Rehabilitation, Neighborhood Stabilization, Refinance Assistance and Foreclosure Assistance programs.

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Retain Patient EOB Documents Without Worry

Healthcare providers are required to retain their Explanation of Benefits (EOB's)for seven years, which can pose quite a challenge. Many of these statements are between one and several-hundred pages long and all need to be reviewed closely to ensure billings are accurate and your services are being paid. Managing paper EOB's can be a tedious, labor-intensive process, even managing the electronic EOB's can be challenging. With a retention period of seven years, healthcare providers need to be sure they have the right system in place to protect these documents from being lost or destroyed.

Most recently, health care providers are also seeking to improve overall operating efficiencies and eliminate rigorous paper processes. Online EOB document retention systems provide solutions to protect information, retain important documents for compliance, and help these providers overcome such operational obstacles. They can:

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DocuVantage May Newsletter NOW AVAILABLE

The latest edition of the DocuVantage May Newsletter is Now Available Featuring:
  • 5 Tips to Stay Compliant with Document Retention
  • Feel Safe in a SaaS World
  • OnDemand Success Story: Health Integrated
  • Industry News
  • Fast Track Offer: Support UNITED CEREBRAL PALSY
Read the DocuVantage May Newsletter and learn tips to make your business more efficient today!
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