Organizing documents in DMS or ECM

Best practices organizing documents in ECM

Sergey Palyukh
05. Mar ‘19

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In order to maintain a leading position in the market, companies are forced to compete not so much with their competitors, but with themselves.

We will focus in more detail on the automation of the process of working with information. The technologies used for collecting, managing, storing and delivering information are combined under the single term ECM (Enterprise Content Management).

On the one hand, document management is at the core of any ECM system. We put a broader concept into the concept of a document than just a paper document, a document is a content that has business value. ECM system is focused on managing the entire life cycle of the document, from the moment of creation to the transfer to storage.

On the other hand, the task of an ECM system is to create an environment for accumulating experience and the course of business processes, creating the necessary conditions for organizing an enterprise, much less dependent on individuals, their skills and knowledge. And this is the task of managing the interaction. The ECM system can become the main integration link of information systems of various types at the enterprise.

The process of working with the document

When introducing an ECM system, an enterprise will need to review all documentation that regulates paper and electronic documents, identify optimization opportunities and describe new ways of working with information.

Conventionally, all documents in an organization can be divided into two groups according to the method of occurrence: documents created within the organization and documents received from outside. External documents are documents that have come to the organization, it may be paper documents, faxes, e-mail messages. Internal documents are documents created within the organization, these documents are most often already created in electronic form.

External documents can enter the organization in different ways and, depending on this, they will enter the system in different ways:

  • Paper documents, letters, telegrams, etc. are entered into the system directly from the scanner without intermediate storage on the local disk;
  • E-mail messages - the entry process in the system becomes even easier. Integration with MS Office allows you to put the text of the letter into the system also without intermediate saving on the local disk, send the received document with a task for execution, save the contact in the system and all this without leaving the Outlook window;
  • When receiving faxes, regardless of whether the fax is received by the clerk who answers the call or automatically by fax, the software service (for example, Microsoft Fax Service) receives a message from the fax, generates a file with the message and saves it in a local folder, from there ECM-system services pick up files with documents and enter into the system.

Most internal documents are already created directly in the system and do not require any additional manipulations to be entered. When creating documents, the process of using ready-made templates, document layouts, action wizards is greatly accelerated, and it also allows uniformity among documents of one group or one subject. It is worth mentioning separately the documents that arise within the organization, but which end up in the ECM system as a result of integration with accounting systems, for example, SAP, for such documents you can also set up automatic saving in the system and the assignment of rights.

Any document will remain only a set of words or bytes in the event that it does not “work” and is not included in the business processes of the organization. Workflow or workflow management is the tool that participates in transporting documents between participants in a business process.

Alignment processes are the most visible examples of workflow usage. The agreement becomes more transparent, the initiator of the agreement at any time can receive information on what stage of the deal is the document created by him, which employees have already agreed on it, and which consider that the document needs to be improved. The ability to create versions when approving documents allows you to make edits without distorting the original document view.

Working through a web interface within the framework of document approval allows you to go beyond the walls of the office, the working system becomes available anywhere in the world where there is the Internet. The head at any time can access the document, leave their comments, make a resolution, sign the document in electronic signature, send the task on the document to the contractor.

The use of internal corporate portals simplifies many communications in companies, makes information more accessible, processes more flexible and straightforward. With the proper organization of such portals and integration with the DMS, it is possible to work with documents and tasks through the portal’s web interface, access documents, view tasks and search for necessary information.

Classical ECM paperwork

At the present stage, companies are faced with the need for harmonious and effective convergence of "paper" office work and electronic document management. ECM-systems can give a lot to build productive work with paper documentation and increase the transparency of office work. At the same time, using experience and best practices, it is possible to determine the most optimal way of working for a particular organization, regulate business processes and carry out the introduction of electronic workflow and the subsequent transition to paperless processes. Consider the best practices for organizing such work.

Registration of incoming documentation

A significant part of incoming external documentation is subject to mandatory registration, as it most often requires the adoption of a decision or execution.

In the case that an external document arrives in paper form, it is first registered in the system by the clerk, i.e. A registration and control card is entered on it, which contains the date and number of the registration, as well as other data on the document (sender, addressee, summary, etc.). After registration in the system, a registration number is manually entered on the paper document, then the document is scanned and entered into the system.

Using a scanner and barcode printer allows you to make the process of entering more automated.

With a small amount of external documentation, the order of registration and entry into the system is similar to that described above, with the only difference that the registration number is not written on a paper document, and a barcode is printed on the adhesive tape from the RSC, which is then pasted onto the document.

With a large amount of incoming documentation, a more rational way is to add and register documents: a registration and control card is created for each paper document, a barcode is printed, pasted on each document, then all documents are simultaneously loaded into a stream scanner, and specially installed software allows you to recognize scanned documents on the printed barcode and enter them into the system without direct participation of the clerk.

In the case that an external document arrives in electronic form and is subject to registration, then such a document is printed, and further work on it is similar to working with a paper document.

In addition to external documentation, a number of internal documents may be subject to registration (for organizations with an extensive geographically remote structure, documents from the head office to a subordinate structure): administrative documents, outgoing documents, memos, minutes and acts. These documents are created in the system on the basis of various templates that already contain a barcode, so special printing and gluing of the barcode on these documents is not required.

Sending to the addressee, making a resolution

Documents, both incoming and internal working, and outgoing documents involve the consideration of the head and the issuance of the resolution.

If the manager is actively working in the system, the clerk sends him an incoming document with a task along the route. Having received a task with an attached electronic document, the manager makes a decision about his further fate - it is not required to transfer for execution, transfer for execution with control or execution under the document. In the event that the manager submits the document for execution, he specifies the implementers, the deadlines and the text of the resolution itself. In the event that the manager submits a document for execution with control, he additionally indicates the controllers for execution and deadlines.

If the manager does not work in the system, then he issues a resolution on a printed document, and already the clerk or assistant who works in the system performs all the above-described actions for the manager.

Creation of orders

In both cases, an order is created in the system that contains information about who issued the order, the text of the order, when the order was issued, who is the contractor on behalf of, what time the order should be executed, who is the execution controller, if control is required. The assignment card allows you to accumulate all the information on the executable document: it displays the date of each performer’s report, the actual execution date on behalf of all the executors, the text of the report, and external executors can also be specified in the order card.

Performance control

Fixing in the system of instructions for documents, deadlines and performers allows you to use different tools to monitor the execution of instructions. In the process of executing the order, the card automatically records the date on which the order is completed by the executor, attaches a report document, if it was created during the execution, or the comments of the contractor indicated in the text of the task. All these data can be used to create a variety of analytical reports, formed according to specific criteria, for example, a detailed report on the execution of instructions from the CEO, information on the execution of instructions controlled by the receiving engineer, etc.

In addition to reports, orders can be monitored by setting up various filters in the Order directory.

Moving a document and write-off

In ECM systems, there are tools for recording and tracking where a particular document is located at a specific point in time. All this information will be displayed in the registration card of the document, in which all movements of the document will be indicated: to whom the document was issued, when, whether the original document was issued or a copy of it, what document was written off, etc. The use of barcodes can be a great help in entering this information, or all the necessary information will be entered into the system manually.

After the work on the document is completed, the document is written off to business, the ECM-system helps to prepare various reports and preparatory documents for this.

Speaking about the storage of documents, it makes sense to identify one of the critical functions of the ECM system - record management. Sooner or later, any document appears in an electronic archive, a full-fledged ECM system must ensure its long-term archiving, automate storage policies in accordance with the rules, regulations and retention periods of certain documents.