Manage your document lifecycle better with modern technology

Businesses and institutions typically generate and process large numbers of documents. These documents can be of various kinds, ranging from administrative documents such as contracts, invoices, and customer files to more product-oriented documents like manuals, protocols, and product specifications.

In the digital era of today, it is easier than ever before to create, capture, store and find documents as and when required. Nevertheless, the sheer volume of documents that modern-day enterprises and organizations deal with makes it essential for them to take a structured approach towards document management.

By doing so, they can ensure that the documents they create further their business or institutional goals, instead of hindering them through a lack of accessibility, usability, or security.

An important concept that helps organizations deal with documents systematically is the idea of a ‘document lifecycle’. As the name suggests, this concept refers to the typical stages that documents go through, from creation all the way to archival or destruction. While managing the lifecycle of thousands or hundreds of thousands of documents might seem like an incredibly complicated process, today’s document management technology has simplified such document lifecycle management to a great degree.

Let’s first understand what a typical document lifecycle looks like, and then explore the various ways in which having the right software in place helps organizations deal with document lifecycles.

What does a typical document lifecycle look like?

Usually, there are four main stages that a document produced and used within an organization goes through. They are creation/capture, storage, sharing/delivery, and archival/destruction. Let’s look at each of these stages in more detail:

1.  Creation/capture

With the cross-pollination of the various types of media with each other, the word ‘document’ no longer refers to just text. It may include images, sound, video, widgets and more. So, the meaning of the word has expanded to mean ‘content’ of any kind. To add another layer of complexity, documents may be created within any type of office suite application like word processors, spreadsheet programs, etc. They may also be created in specialized software, such as graphic design or video editing software. Moreover, organizations often digitize paper documents by either scanning them as images or converting them into editable documents through OCR technology.

Easity to see the complexity of the very first stage of a typical document lifecycle, given the range of formats and media types to deal with. Document management systems of today resolve the complexity of this stage seamlessly.

2.  Storage

Once a document is created, there are several places where it may be stored, depending on the organization’s requirements. It may be stored on a public or private cloud, the organization’s intranet, or within specialized document management software.

Ease of retrieval is an important consideration at this stage. Data and documents are worthless unless they can be retrieved and made use of when needed. Thus, documents must be stored in such a way that they can be found and accessed easily later. Some kind of indexing and categorization scheme is essential for this purpose. In addition, document tags and metadata also go a long way towards ensuring that the content of documents can be given some more context, which makes them easier to find.

Another critical aspect to be mindful of at this stage is security. It is vital for businesses to ensure that documents can only be opened or edited by personnel or stakeholders who are authorized to do so. The locations where documents are stored must be secure, and organizations must set up an authorization system that determines the kinds of privileges various categories of users have.

3.  Sharing/delivery

Once a document has been securely stored, it should be possible for stakeholders to work on it collaboratively, and to comment on and annotate it, whether in real-time or not. This might involve sharing the document internally through links, or with third parties such as subcontractors and clients.

Moreover, at this stage, some kind of approval system might also need to be implemented to indicate that a document has been reviewed by an expert. This might even involve the use of e-signatures.

4.  Archival/destruction

Once a document has served its purpose and is unlikely to be needed again in the near future, it is typically either archived or simply deleted. Many organizations need to retain records of certain types for specific periods of time in order to comply with internal retention policies, industry or governmental rules and/or other regulations.

How technology is helping companies streamline the document lifecycle

Thus, it is clear that managing the document lifecycle can present quite a few challenges to organizations, given the various kinds of controls and processes that might need to be implemented. Luckily, today’s document management systems (DMSs) now come equipped out of the box to deal with such challenges. As a result, they can save organizations time and money, and make it easier for them to focus on their goals.

Here are just a few of the ways in which DMSs like Tessi Docubase can simplify and automate certain key aspects of document lifecycle management for companies and institutions:

  1. Document capture: Modern DMSs let organizations scan files, images, text and other kinds of content. They also come with built-in OCR capabilities to easily digitize documents into an editable form. Moreover, they allow documents to be captured in a variety of different file formats, including images, sound, video, and other multimedia formats.
  2. Secure encrypted storage: A good DMSs will also encrypt and store documents in accordance with international archiving norms, which preserves their probative value. In addition, DMS vendors often offer cloud storage as well, thereby ensuring secure access to documents easily from wherever in the world the authorized user may be.
  3. Powerful search features: Modern DMSs feature sophisticated indexing capabilities which make it super simple to quickly file away documents and content. Moreover, by leveraging full-text search and intelligent metadata capture, they can ensure that documents can always be retrieved easily when needed, and in a scalable manner at that. Lastly, they also allow historical records to be searched through with complex queries making lost files or documents a thing of the past.
  4. Permission-based collaboration: Today’s DMSs often enable users to collaborate on documents right out of the box. Moreover, documents can be shared with people within as well as outside of the organization, with different permissions being assignable to different parties.

Let the experts help you manage your document lifecycle

Proper document lifecycle management is an inevitable and often unenviable part of running a business or institution. However, by leveraging the power of modern DMS platforms organizations can save the hassle of having to design and implement their own tools for document lifecycle management. Dbs offers a wide range of tools to help organizations manage document lifecycles including dbs LiveForms, dbs eSign, and Tessi Docubase. What are your specific document lifecycle management challenges and needs? Get in touch to find a custom document lifecycle management solution that works for your organization.

Written by Ricardo Rengifo, DBS Software & Services

dbs Software & Services (dbs) is a long-standing provider of document management and process automation solutions for education and business, and the exclusive provider of Tessi Docubase® in North America.

Tessi Docubase® is an enterprise-grade modular, secure, and easy-to-use document management system that seamlessly integrates with Business Information Systems. Its secure architecture and a broad range of features make it the perfect solution for a wide range of enterprises and use cases.

dbs LiveForms, is a low-code Business Process Automation platform. Its sole focus is simplifying complex processes by automating repetitive steps – from data capture to alerts, notifications, email confirmations, and everything in between quickly, without involving a programmer.

dbs eSign is a cloud-based electronic signature solution that allows users to manage the signing process for a document, from upload to signing and sealing, from any mobile device or computer.