Over the last five years, significantly more firms have implemented document management systems (DMS) into their practice with the vision of going paperless. But how successful have they been in becoming truly paper free?
I have visited some firms that have been extremely successful in adopting a fully paperless office and then there are others where their DMS does little to help them reach their paperless office goal.
The DMS concept isn’t new. In particular for the accounting industry and legal profession there are a number of available solutions in the market place today.
What should an effective DMS really achieve?
While a DMS should help achieve the goal of becoming paperless, I think there’s a bigger question here. Consider what moving to a paperless office could truly mean for your practice.
The real benefits of an effective system lie in having document control and the ability to quickly and easily share information, as well as improving productivity through secure search and archiving capabilities and being able to maintain document integrity.
According to a research study, an individual spends on average four to six weeks searching for documents in a year. Four to six weeks! How much time do you think you spend searching for documents each year?
Today we live in a world where information is demanded and made accessible in seconds. As a result, have you noticed your clients’ expectations are changing?
What’s the relationship between a DMS and a client portal?
As practices look to build that closer connection to clients, and deliver information more quickly, I am also often asked about document portals.
Document portals are becoming more common and many firms have implemented a portal that is a standalone from their DMS application. A portal is a gateway that allows a firm to publish information online for clients to access and view. Some document portals also allow the client to share information back with the firm.
Where I’ve seen this fall over is when there is no audit trail of the documents shared through the portal. There’s the risk of having multiple versions of documents without knowing which one has been securely signed off and what changes have been made to them. Having the ability to sign documents electronically through the portal adds to the efficiency by providing a seamless end-to-end sign off process and the audit trail helps monitor whether the document has been changed.
Another challenge often faced through the use of document portals is that they’re often only applicable to a firm’s clients, meaning the opportunity to use the same technology to collaborate with their suppliers and/or employees is missed.
How are we helping practices meet these challenges?
What is exciting for Reckon is that we are now able to provide firms in Australia and New Zealand with a Document Management and Document Portal solution.
Virtual Cabinet is our document management offering that enables companies to control all documents, share information and archive securely. The Virtual Cabinet document portal is fully integrated with the document management system which means you can publish documents to clients, suppliers, partners and employees in a simple, secure and audited manner.