By Stuart Evans, Chief Technology Officer, Invu

Small and mid-sized enterprise businesses don’t employ an IT ‘policeman’ – i.e. someone who has the responsibility to ensure the use of IT is standardised across the business, however using an electronic Document Management (eDM) solution can help to implement a controlled filing methodology to limit or prevent information chaos.

Many small to mid-sized businesses will standardise on shared access storage, such as SharePoint or DropBox, but these systems are rarely configured in a way that guides users to use a consistent approach and so, once again, the folder system can quickly turn into a maze, which makes finding the right and complete document set impossible.

While some organisations will have a finance system in place, many do not have the luxury of implementing a wide range of IT applications. However, an eDM solution can be used to fill the gap. While they help bring paper documents into an electronic world, allowing companies to provide a secure, controlled information store that can be tuned to the model and vocabulary of a system such as HR or Health and Safety, superior solutions can even build workflows to drive simple processes. Small and mid-sized businesses can receive these benefits without having to incur the cost of employing an IT Policeman.

Cloud reticence

However, the adoption of these eDM solutions in small and mid-sized businesses has been slow because some still have a level of reticence to deploy a Cloud-based solution. Those companies, especially in the financial services sector or ones with strict compliance and regulatory standards to uphold, often have concerns over data security - therefore an on-site server based eDM solution provides peace of mind over auditability.

While the adoption of Cloud eDM solution figures remain relatively conservative, it can provide a fantastic low cost option to storage, easy collaboration between different business applications and increased auto classification of documents, which are all stored within the chosen Cloud solution.

Going mobile

These are not the only benefits to be had with eDM solutions. Benefits can also be provided to the modern mobile workforce the eDM’s ease of integration with smartphones and tablets which are becoming increasingly key to the ‘anywhere/anytime’ way of working.

Three connections between mobile and eDM solutions are:

Mobile Capture - Smartphones are the prime source of new mobile capture scenarios, using the high quality cameras for capturing data and images that are routed to an eDM solution. These can be evidential photos (insurance, building site, proof of delivery etc.) as well as mobile capture of documents and certificates.

Mobile Business Process - Reviewing content and providing authorisation are key aspects of management on the move and it is now critical that senior staff can quickly and easily participate in structured and audited business process from their phones or tablets. It must be possible for users to join in workflows on an eDM solution from these mobile devices while they are on the move.

Offline Mobile - No matter how good the mobile networks are and how many Wi-Fi locations exist, our demand for connectivity always outstrips supply. Because of this, it remains vital that documents from an electronic document management solution can be saved onto smartphones and tablets for reading offline.

The future is not just about digital

Document management is not just about digitising manual documents – it provides so much more. The solutions can work alongside existing small business applications to increase efficiencies. In the future there will be a growing adoption of business process automation as more and more small to medium sized businesses embody their key processes in electronic systems and automated workflows.

A truly automated system needs to deliver everything a business requires and at the moment a large amount of that data is recorded within documents. An eDM solution does not exist within a vacuum, it relies on integrating with many other existing solutions and applications – but it also drastically improves those existing systems.