What is a Document Management System (DMS)?
A documentation management system, or DMS for short, is a digital file management programme that allows companies to electronically manage, track, and store documents related to their workforce.
Key Components of a DMS
Organisations of all shapes and sizes generate documentation, from customer records to employees’ contracts, payslips to performance management notes, and more. These documents can come in all shapes and sizes, including Word documents, spreadsheets, PDFs, images, videos, and audio files. It’s no wonder companies are looking for document management solutions.
Document management tools can help your company manage these documents, significantly save time, reduce mistakes, and streamline workflows. Let’s have a look at what a DMS does:
- Stores various documents and uses version control to track changes to them.
- Provides a secure system with different access rights depending on the roles involved.
- Meets legal and regulatory obligations such as GDPR and compliance with industry standards.
- Allows employees to collaborate in real-time by being web-based.
- Clarifies workflows so employees know where they store relevant information.
Why is a DMS Essential for Business Success?
The days of paper filing cabinets and complicated spreadsheets on individual computers are long gone, but not all companies have fully embraced the world of integrated document management software. There are several reasons why a DMS is now considered essential for modern businesses to thrive and meet their objectives:
Acts as a Single Source of Truth
Everyone knows where to look for the information they need to perform their role, records are not duplicated, and changes made to one document can automatically update others as required. Being able to track electronic documents also clarifies who is working on what and how they work, which can contribute to individual performance records.
Boosts Productivity and Engagement
Document management software helps employees access documents quickly and makes collaboration a straightforward process because the right people can see the necessary documents. Employees can also feel more valued when systems are transparent, and they can choose themselves when they want to access their records, such as annual leave allowances and contracts.
Document management software helps with business process management as many tasks can be automated (for example, changes to one document can automatically feed through to other relevant ones). The software also has collaboration features, which makes searching and tracking documents quicker and facilitates file sharing.
Promotes an Inclusive Culture
With a DMS in place, organisations can work with employees and clients in different geographical locations, as there is no need for everyone to be in one place. Document management systems allow companies to manage workflows between employees remotely, opening the door to employing a more diverse workforce, such as those with disabilities, caring responsibilities or from different communities.
Provides Extra Security
A DMS ensures that only those who need to access documents can do so, guaranteeing that sensitive information is kept confidential. The software also allows companies to see who has made changes to documents, which is essential for internal teams who handle personal data or financial records and for external teams who manage files or legal documents when working with clients.
Employees can work together more efficiently on shared digital documents in a DMS, leading to better communication on shared projects. Document management tools also enable communication between team members working on different stages of processes involving electronic documentation (for example, onboarding a new client or employee). This communication reduces the chance of duplication, mistakes and conflicts.
Meets Legal Requirements
An electronic document management system allows companies to have document control and keep an auditable trail of all activities related to their documentation, ensuring they meet legal requirements or industry standards. Additionally, a DMS helps companies protect personal data for GDPR and will also automatically update the requirements when changes are made to the legislation.
Who is Responsible for Organising Employee Documents?
Employee documents are usually organised by the team involved in looking after the people side of a business: human resources.
The Role of HR in Organising Employee Documents
The HR team play a vital role in organising employee documents. Keeping track of employee records, ensuring the correct documents are updated at the right time and supporting confidential discussions such as performance reviews and compensation negotiations are all critical aspects of organising employee documents in which HR teams are involved.
Using a document management system to help with this work reduces the chance of human error and streamlines the process of reviewing, tracking and storing employee documents.
Best Practice for Implementing a DMS
When you start to think about implementing a comprehensive document management system for your organisation, there are several factors to consider. Firstly, assess the needs of your business both now and in the future. If you are planning to expand and change the roles involved in your business processes or workforce, this may impact the documents you need to manage.
Once you have a good idea of your business needs, think about the following questions:
- What formats (e.g., Word, PDF, videos) does your DMS need to support?
- How do you want documents stored?
- Does it include optical character recognition (which allows you to convert text and images into a format the software can use)?
- What are the security features of the DMS, and are you confident they will work for your business?
- Is the search function easy to use?
- Who has access control?
- Does the DMS offer version control and a system for audit trails?
- How does the DMS facilitate collaboration?
- Do you need the DMS to integrate with other systems?
- What happens if the internet goes down or someone deletes a document?
The best document management software ensures the interface is intuitive and easy to use so employees can hit the ground running as far as possible. A trial period is a good idea to help iron out any teething difficulties.
Factorial's Document Management System
At Factorial, we understand the importance of managing electronic documents to a high standard. Our document management system helps you create a virtual filing system, provides different access levels for different employees, includes an e-signature capability, allows you to create personal employee records and ensures an appropriate level of confidentiality.