How is EDM Related to Organization's Current Business Processes

By Makarand Sawant, Senior General Manager – IT, Deepak Fertilisers

The successful implementation of an electronic document management system begins with a detailed understanding of the specific challenges and requirements of your organization. Completing a successful document management project requires detailed planning and execution. While every project has its own unique attributes, incorporating best practices from other successful projects provides a template upon which to base your objectives. Establishing best practices for electronic document management (EDM) is especially challenging as customer needs and vendor solutions vary widely. To ensure a successful EDM implementation, you must thoroughly understand your organization’s current business processes and how documents and electronic files flow through those processes. When a document or electronic file is created or sent to your organization, what happens next? What is the movement of that document until it reaches its final destination?

Your initial EDM deployment should address areas that are currently causing the most “pain” and where there is the greatest opportunity for improved efficiency. An enterprise wide implementation of an EDM system is best achieved using a phased approach, where those users with the greatest need are served first. When working with an individual department, take into consideration their interaction with other departments in the enterprise to improve overall efficiency.

What information is going to be captured and entered into your EDM system?

Paper documents, electronic files, e-forms, faxes, email and attachments are common content. The ability to quickly and easily capture and upload this content into your EDM system from different departments, offsite locations and from different scanner manufacturers is key to creating a comprehensive system. You may choose separate document capture software vendors from that provided by your scanner hardware manufacturer depending on your specific capture requirements. Taking advantage of Optical Character Recognition (OCR) will allow you to scan and automatically index files by recognizing metadata contained within the document. After information is captured, it must be logically filed and then stored for easy and secure retrieval. Each department with an organization will have different index values or naming conventions that will allow for rapid retrieval of the files in the future. Learn how files are currently organized and how employees search for them. Who will need to access those files in the future? If it is someone from outside the department or organization, will they be able to understand the filing methodology. How would an auditor in a regulated industry be able to retrieve files to prove compliance? Understand your organization's corporate and office politics. Who are the stakeholders? How much influence do the daily end users have on the decision? Does the IT department have the bandwidth to implement the project within the required time frame? Make certain that there is buy in at all levels.

Examine and develop the process to implement the EDM system and to manage change. Find a system that minimizes the impact on employees by allowing you to configure the system to fit your processes rather than requiring employees to make major changes to how they do their day to day tasks. A well-designed system will be welcomed by the end user community.

The system with the most features and functions may not be the best choice. Choose the EDM system to solve your specific business challenges. Find the EDM solution that addresses your specific business requirements and then deploy it according to a detailed well-conceived project plan.

A successful electronic document management project starts with a detailed project plan. Examining your organization to target obvious inefficient bottlenecks is a good place to begin; however, a holistic approach will deliver the most long-term benefit. Understanding your current business processes will help you implement a document management system that drives efficiency, productivity, and reduced operating costs. Choose the EDM system with features that serve your current and future needs. Keeping your information secure is fundamental. Develop the security policies that meet industry standards and requirements. Workflow automation should be considered as a way to increase the benefits of EDM. Integrating with existing line-of business applications will speed up adoption and also improve the return on investment.

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