As a result, multiple searches are often required when the exact location of a document is unknown. This is especially true when the person who created or filed the document is unavailable. Most companies try to centralize all filing to a single file room and a server, eliminating storing of business documents on local hard drives and file cabinets in people’s offices. This is usually the first step toward making the transition to an EDMS.
There are a variety of ways to search for electronic documents. Most EDMS use one or more of the following:
Structural search is the method most closely related to the file cabinet, file folder approach because it relies on a consistent, hierarchical and controlled structure for storing documents.
The best systems are able to emulate the physical filing world to make the transition to EDMS more seamless for people who are accustomed to working with file cabinets, folders, index tabs, documents and even paper-clipped or stapled documents. So now a user can log into a particular cabinet, find and open a folder, identify the required document and even immediately email, fax or print it.
Keyword and Document Title Search
An EDMS allows users to index documents with a title and keywords. Those words can be entered later in a search field and a list of documents associated with these words will be presented.
The more words associated with a document, the more specific the searches that can be performed. The fewer words, the more likely you would receive a longer list of documents returned by the search. Unique words in a document title or keyword can be used to produce very narrow searches. For example, searching for a specific invoice number from a specific vendor in the title of a document could result in immediately locating a single document.
Full Text Search
Full Text Search (FTS) is yet another way to search for a document. FTS involves looking for a document based on a word or phrase that may be contained within. FTS first and foremost requires that documents contain text. An EDMS that provides full text search indexes the text contained in all the documents within a database.
As documents are filed and indexed, they become searchable using the EDMS FTS feature. This is a straightforward process for documents like emails, MS Word, MS Excel and other text-based documents. However, scanned documents do not contain text (a scanned document is an image) so they must be converted to a format that contains text and is searchable (i.e. searchable pdf).
Benefit #4 – Integration with Other Accounting Applications
It is now possible for small and medium-sized firms to achieve levels of application integration historically reserved for larger organizations with deep IT pockets. Specifically, how an EDMS can be integrated with other core firm applications to drive efficiency and manage IT costs.
One of the bigger problems firms face is the need to enter the same data more than once to satisfy the requirements of different software applications such as Tax and accounting software packages. Frequently these applications do not communicate data with each other.
As a result, data is entered twice, which take additional time and increases the possibility of data entry errors. Using an EDMS that integrates to third party applications eliminates double entry of basic data. For example: An EDMS can automatically create and update electronic client folders using data from the accounting system.
Benefit #5 – Disaster Recovery
According to research by the University of Texas, only 6 percent of companies suffering from a catastrophic data loss survive, while 43 percent never reopen and 51 percent close within two years.
- If you come into work one morning to find your office has been destroyed, would your business recover?
- Would you lose all of your paper documents?
- Are electronic documents that are scattered across many different workstations now useless?
- Have you lost valuable email messages?
- What would you do?
Paper documents stored in file cabinets are susceptible to fire and flood. You cannot recover a paper document that has been destroyed by a fire or a flood. But the problem goes beyond your paper files. Electronic documents stored on workstations and servers across your operation are equally vulnerable to catastrophic loss.