Document management is still a relatively little-known thing, but one that has the potential to transform the work place. In an age in which the paperless office is a rarely-achieved ideal, the suite of technologies known as document processing (and the accounts department special case, invoice processing) can actually make this a reality.
Document management systems are amazingly effective collaboration tools. They allow groups to store, exchange, modify and keep track of documents. There are also facilities to track the changes made and record various versions of documents. This allows many people to work on the same project, saving it centrally without the need for many different versions or fragments that ultimately have to be standardised and put together as a full product.
If you have paper documents, as most companies do, then there is obviously a gap between that state of affairs and the entirely online version to which you may aspire. Simply, it is tough to work across the two – sometimes having to deal with physical letters, memos and documents and sometimes with virtual ones. This is where document processing comes in. It is a set of technologies that changes physical documents to their electronic equivalents. Some of the most rudimentary (and therefore cheapest) of these technologies involve merely scanning-to-PDF: creating an image or other file out of a written document. However, at its most advanced it is possible to turn handwritten notes into editable files, like any other office document. These can then be placed into your document management system and treated like any other electronic document.
Document management and the document processing that makes bridging the divide between ‘real’ and virtual possible are therefore extremely helpful technologies. Invoice processing applies this to your accounts department, allowing you to turn physical invoices into electronic ones. This is critical, since many suppliers and organisations will still submit paper invoices, and these can easily be treated differently to the ones you receive electronically. They can get forgotten or mislaid, with implications for your relationships with your suppliers and for your reputation. If you are aiming for a paperless office, whether for financial or environmental reasons, then this is an effective way to help bring that about. The solution you opt for will depend upon the nature of your organisation and its needs, as well as its budget, but the range of alternatives available means there is something for everyone.
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