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Electronic Document Storage and Management (EDMS)

EDMS is not just a means of storing computer files. A full EDMS system allows for the process of importing both paper and computer generated documents into a computer system and indexing the files for easy and swift retrieval.

In effect you can dispose of your traditional paper filing system. No more gathering letters, invoices and orders into filing groups and no more slotting them into the correct folders. Of course, you only use a paper filing system because you know you may need that document again in the future. Equally, when you do want that document it's invariably missing, either misfiled, or on someone else's desk. With EDMS documents are where you placed them and they are available for you to use where ever you are. All you need is a computer, tablet or smart phone and an Internet connection.

As most modern businesses already use the Internet for everyday interaction with banks, Inland Revenue, Companies House, insurance companies, suppliers and customers it no longer makes sense to print all of the emails and documents that come in as email attachments and then file away the paper copies. The time taken to sort and store all of those pieces of paper, not to mention the cost of the filing cabinets, the space they occupy, the cost of printer consumables, plus the cost of paper all amount to wasted resource.

Much better to keep computer generated documents in electronic storage and convert the important paper that still comes in through the letterbox also into electronic documents.

So, where's the big business advantage in EDMS..?

That's the first question you need to ask.

First there is a net saving. You will need to scan and store quite a lot of paper documentation that you receive by post. To do that you will need a scanner and time to process the paper and index the computerised documents. This however, will cost much less than sorting and filing in the traditional manner.

Secondly, with a good EDMS system you can retrieve documents without the need to go to a filing room or a filing cabinet and search for it. In most organisations individuals spend around 20% of every working day searching for data in order to complete their working tasks (research from Delphi Group 2004). Imagine finding all the relative information needed to complete a task in seconds directly from your personal computer, tablet or smart phone, wherever you may be.

Thirdly there are the advantages which come with work flow management. You don't need to ask for continual updates on project progress. If a customer has responded to a quotation, or a supplier has confirmed a delivery date, or if a complaint has been dealt with, all the information is there immediately the documents have been indexed into the system.

Great. So, how much does it cost?

Surprisingly little. Costs will vary for business to business, but taken on a per user basis capital costs, subscription charges and the cost of labour resource to run it will be much less than setting the same user up in a conventional computer network system. Plus, the set up doesn't require huge amounts of IT know how. If you can work a personal computer and you can organise a filing system, you can create your own EDMS system.

Better and better. Where's the snag?

There isn't one. You will need to sit down and figure out what you want to achieve with your EDMS system and you will need to test the physical practicality of function such as scanning and indexing. You will also need to decide on security in respect of which of your employees shall be allowed to view which documents, but once that is done you can start your transition, start to save money and start to improve your business.

Learn more.


Chris Watkins I've been an IT professional for over thirty years. Most of that time has been spent helping large organisations with the evaluation, installation and maintenance of business software applications.
I have a wealth of knowhow on the subject of data management.
Advice is free and so are basic templates. If you need more just ask. I only charge for actual work done.
Contact - Tel: 01392 58 0420 email: