Tag Archives: document management

process automation

What is process automation?

In this post I wanted to get to the heart of document management. Process automation

I talk about the benefits of paper, print and digital and, how it impacts our lives.

We continue to generate so much information daily and organisations are  deluged with information from invoices, letters, reminders and so forth with all this information how does a company manage to stay above the paper flow?

That is where process automation comes in.

What is process automation?

It is the digitising of any manual process that collects and centralises information within an organisation.

For example an electronic filing system that reduces or replaces administrative tasks to a solution that can streamline whole departments.

Managing the lifecycle of documents and data within a business is the cornerstone to better control, greater visibility, security and efficiency.

process automationProcess automation can be broken down into four key areas each of which can be managed and improved independently of each other or improved as a whole.

Data capture – capturing important data is key to any business process. Manual capture or data entry can be time consuming and inaccurate. Automating the capturing of data is quick, efficient and error free. It involves taking the information and scanning documents, collecting key bits of information and then digitising the information.

Document management – this is the heart of process automation.  Information and documents are stored in an electronic filing cabinet whereby it can be controlled in a secure and central location.

It is useful for freeing up physical space by storing electronic copies of historical documents and archiving for documents that have completed their life cycle.

Document management enables instant retrieval with indexed rich process automationsearch ability, administrator based access for added document security, traceability for audit control, records management for lifecycle control and integration into other business systems as a central source of data.

Workflow – allowing key bits of information and documents to be routed around an organisation giving people accessibility to the documents and the information they need when they need it.

Workflows ensure that the users are updated with any up and coming tasks that need completing this may mean authorisation, payment due, documents missing, invoicing errors.

A simple workflow might be internal documents that are required to be printed routing around an office to a specific printer or copier thus reducing printing and copying costs.

A complex workflow might be creating a document electronically from the point of capture and fully automating it, removing the need for paper and resource required to manage it

process automationReporting – the final part of the process which creates and distributes information that give a visual representation of ‘live data’ giving a snapshot in time of that current process.

Collating accurate data in real time can be impossible when trying to gather information manually.

Reports take time to produce and once published they are quickly out of date.

Electronic reporting allows data to be collected from any source at any stage within a process.

This means with up to the minute accurate reports informed decisions can be made which could be critical for the day to day running of the business.

How can process automation benefit your business?

  • Understanding what information is being held and what documents are in the workflow ensures better control and visibility allowing the right people to access the information they need at anytime
  • Business functions can be simplified making it easier and more streamlined
  • Automation = being proactive = efficiency
  • Less reliance on paper and people
  • Data can be shared with anyone in your business
  • Compliance targets and government legislation are met
  • Disaster proof your business processes

That’s it in a nutshell. Process automation involves you taking a hard look at your key business processes, being critical and then looking at areas that can be improved by removing the manual effort and using automation.



Information and document management on the move

information security

Document security on the move

My last blog discussed the importance of having a document management company policy that ensures integrity and security of company information.

But what happens when you are on the move or working from home? What information or document management protocols do you have in place?

Recently, I was on a train to London and took the opportunity to write up a report and read through a proposal, nothing unusual in that.

But as the journey continued I was irked by a commuter who was sitting next to me and kept peering into my laptop screen.

I didn’t have a laptop privacy screen so I was well aware that he could catch some of what I was reading and writing.

You might be thinking what a stupid thing to do but there was no confidential information on display and nothing onerous that anyone reading it could use to affect.

That’s not the point I was irked because he persisted in deliberately reading in my space and this got me thinking.

Do organisations need an information management policy and is it really necessary?

How many of us actually travel with company work documents – paper and digital, and read them in view of other commuters?

The british workforce has become increasingly mobile, we travel further and more often.

Many employees use planes and trains.

If you take a train during peak commuting periods it is not unusual for people to use this travel time to work on their smartphones, laptops or tablets, reading important documents and responding to emails in full view of all and sundry.

Not forgetting that endless business phone call the woman sitting next to you is having and divulging all sorts of interesting information if you care to listen.

I picked up a potential company lead because a woman on her phone name dropped,  she was talking so loudly it was hard not to hear and everyone understood the context of the conversation not very secure or confidential and I wondered what her client (I assumed it was a customer) would have made of the conversation had they known she was travelling on a train.

Would they have questioned her about the existence of a company information management policy?

How many times in the last few years have we heard about breaches at the home office or NHS trusts inadvertently sending out information to the wrong patients.

It happens innocently due in part to carelessness like divulging confidential company information on a mobile phone, reading sensitive documents whilst on a train, bus or plane.

You may not think your friendly commuter sitting next to you isn’t in the least bit interested in what you are reading or writing but look at the statistics below and it might make you think again.

Employees should be aware of an information management policy particularly when working remotely or in transit providing clear and practical guidelines to ensure employees reduce the risk of losing information or worse still falling into the wrong hands.

Paper is very easy to transport to and from the office and just as easy to misplace or leave on the train on the way home. When these documents are no longer required employees should be required to return them to the office and have them destroyed on company premises.

Organisations need to manage information appropriately ensuring that devices issued to employees such as mobile devices, laptops or tablets are encrypted with passwords and any sensitive information is managed via a secure VPN connection (virtual private network).

Laptop privacy screens ensure that if work is being undertaken on a journey, it makes it impossible for the information to be read from a side view.

Of course this reads like common sense, BUT

Next time you are travelling count the number of potential information and security risks, you will be very surprised just what you see and what you can learn!

When you next make that phone call to an important client or read sensitive documents. Be aware of the security risks.

When you next make that phone call to an important client or read sensitive documents. Be aware of the security risks.

For more information on document management systems and solutions click here

Does it really matter how you transport information?

What management policies do you have in place?

How do you manage your information and any paper documents when you are on the move?

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Document management. How to bridge the gap between paper and digital.

Document management

Document management security why do you need it and how can a document management solution help?

We all carry lots of vital often-sensitive information – whether it’s carried on a smartphone, tablet, laptop, USB stick or as paper files. 

Important data such as company information, a detailed proposal for a prospective customer, financial information relating to a specific client left on public display could prove to be a serious issue for you and your client.

Leaving things on a train, restaurant even at a client’s desk after a meeting is an unpleasant reminder of how a lapse in concentration can cause distress, embarrassment, upset and in some cases be very dangerous.

Thankfully those of us who leave gloves, keys or a wallet whilst these items are replaceable the loss can be downright inconvenient.

Printed matter is a different issue. Paper documents can’t be encrypted and transporting paper has its associated risks. Taking sensitive documents from one location to another a seemingly harmless act yet often necessary can quickly become a security issue.

In reality they are simple everyday mistakes that human beings make.

Protecting printed documents is not easy and a breach in compliance can be costly.

Back in the 80s, the paperless office was predicted and although we are still along way from achieving that, compliance and environmental sustainability will be a factor in reducing the number of non-electronic documents produced and distributed in the future.

Can we have the paperless office?

How do we manage and secure paper based documents?

Digital documents are secure but how do we address the security of paper-based documents?

It is unrealistic to handcuff ourselves to the briefcase we are carrying the documents in nor can we walk around with a vault attached to our backs. Making employees aware and ensuring there is a document management system in place minimises the risk of paper documents going array.

How does document management prevent disasters from occurring?

Document Management helps to reduce the volume of printed documents in a number of ways.

Users can scan or batch scan printed hardcopy documents and have them automatically transformed into a format that can be stored in a document management database.

Document management software creates a secure digital file cabinet for an organisation, in effect it is a digital archive where you can securely store any document type and then find it weeks, months, years later.

Document management solutions add value by saving time and money because documents stored can be indexed and retrieved by users in a secure manner meeting compliance criteria and reducing paper document storage costs.

No longer the premise of large organisations, companies can benefit from document management solutions where compliance requires retention and or destruction of documents within specified timescales. Providing scanning, imaging, document archiving, fax archiving, and electronic records management all accessible within a digital cabinet.

Document management is an integral facet of the disaster recovery plan of an organisation, document automation helps the process of quickly and efficiently managing paperwork and other documents in an electronic form.

The question that needs to be asked by an organisation is “what am I looking to achieve and what is the best solution to achieve that”?

From print to automation

Why automate?

Many people use paper as a bridge between systems that aren’t working effectively such as the link between the supplier and customer in the form of contract, invoice, statement or a link from one internal process to another.

Most documents start their life in a paper format and contain data that has been extracted out of an internal system i.e. AP/AR and then is eventually stored in a digital repository.

Document management solutions

DO we really need to print and store paper?

In an ideal world why print?

By improving internal systems and business processes and receiving documents electronically there is a case to argue that paper could be eliminated. Keying errors are reduced, data is less likely to be lost, decision making is based on accessibility to current and up to date information and distribution costs i.e postage are reduced.

Paper also presents other challenges notably mobility.

With so many people working remotely how do staff further the next stage of a paper based business process if they are not located in the same office? 

As soon as confidential information has been printed it is vulnerable to being left or misplaced somewhere therefore data integrity and security is compromised. Workflow speed is reduced as paper based processes are slower and less efficient.

What about storage?

Cloud based storage is cheaper than having warehouses full of archived boxes and more complex to index and therefore find let alone remember where the information has been stored.

document management

Storage in a digital repository means information is accessible for years to come

Then there is the issue of retrieval. Document management solutions provide flexibility and scalability.

Paper and print has other associated costs – print consumables, maintenance, paper, postage, envelopes, files and filing cabinets, floor space, logistics’ and distribution.

Consider what you print. Why do you print it? Where will you file it once printed? What elements of your business would be most affected if you stopped printing now? Could the medium be replaced with a better digital alternative?

What would happen if you lost that document?

One final thought.

How much of your corporate stationery is tied up in office space, human capital and your customer communications associated with paper?

For more information click here

Document Management Systems, Software and the Paperless Office

What is a document management system?

I’ve talked in more detail about how to go about setting up a document management system and why using an independent outsource partner can help in the process.

Imagine a football pitch decked with filing cabinets standing three high, they are correctly identified, labelled and indexed with a map that provides directions to all the various cabinets so people can access the information when they need it. There’s just one problem with this scenario, can you imagine reading the map and trying to find the cabinet you want that holds the information you need when you need it?

A document management system is an organisational, technology driven way of taking those filing cabinets and storing them in what can best be described as a digital filing cabinet. Business man throws paper work pages to air floorDocuments and images are stored in a repository allowing management and retrieval of the files.

Document Management software (the software behind the system) creates a secure digital file cabinet where literally thousands of documents of any type can be stored and is the equivalent of a digital safe where archived documents can be housed and accessed many years later.

Having the right document management solution can provide the necessary cohort required for scanning, document imaging, document archiving, fax archiving and electronic records management.

Does an organisation need a document management solution?

This largely depends on how much paper you have entering and leaving the building. I recently visited a customer site who had two large offices filled with archived boxes up to the ceiling. That was the half of it the rest had been off-sited to a bigger and secure location. If ever there was a need for a standalone document management software solution it was staring right at me. As for the security implication…!

Information is key and your business depends on it. Can your employees locate the information they need quickly and easily? The majority of companies store information in a variety of different places such as DVD’s, CD’s, Zip drives, on networks, individual PC’s and the mainstay of most office buildings the filing cabinet. The answer to the question for many businesses is that “yes” they need one.

Why… because

  • It reduces the costs of antiquated paper based storage
  • It improves customer services by giving advisors access to up to the minute and legacy information
  • Reduces the risk of regulatory non-compliance problems
  • Provides a disaster recovery plan for all company documents
  • Significantly reduces staff time trying to locate documents
  • Provides critical document security and accessibility

How does it work?

Document management software helps your organisation expand without having to increase administrative staff and enables documents to be better maintained as records to meet compliance objectives. There are a number of ways to capture documents into the archive:

  • scan the document from any document scanner
  • drag and drop files from windows explorer
  • check documents in from MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint
  • Add the entire contents of a network folder
  • Retrieval time reduced
  • Save thousands £ a year by eliminating off site records storage
  • Reduce paper supply costs by thousands £
  • Free up office space

Document management software captures, indexes and manages scanned paper documents, faxes, emails, PDF’s, computer reports and anything else in its final form.

Once archived, documents are easily retrieved by  the use of search tags and indexing criteria which have already been set up allowing anyone within the company to access a file or information within seconds and without leaving their PC.

Security measures can be strictly imposed for authorised users ensuring that access is restricted.

What are the benefits?

Companies are better organised by making files easier to access, file, share, retrieve and secure information. Employees are productive because they save time searching for business critical information.

Having a digital filing cabinet affords greater functionality than paper files because multiple people working from home, different offices and even on different continents can access and work on files simultaneously.

So, imagine the football pitch scenario…. if this is your company then call us for more information on how we can help you set up a secure document management system that will work for you. 

Implementing a document management system will save you time and money!

What do you think? Are you drowning in paper? Have you given any thought to the time it takes to find what you’re looking for? Leave a comment we are always interested to hear your views.

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Alchemy will grow with your business – imaging, capturing, indexing, archival and retrieval, document management, records management, integration and distribution functions all available when you need it. Running either on a server or as a stand-alone configuration, it can also be deployed over the web for remote user or self-service.

Alchemy supports many scanning and capture systems as it is built on Microsoft technology and provides out of the box integration for Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange, Microsoft SQL Server and Microsoft SharePoint. Irrespective of the document type, Alchemy provides a centralised digital archive where documents from multiple systems can be consolidated and then be delivered using multiple delivery channels.





How to implement a document management solution

What is document management?

Often referred to as DMS (Document Management Systems) is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper based information captured through the use of a document scanner. [Source: aiim.org]

Loss of data and information management poses challenges for many organisations not least the intergrity and security of senstive company information and the management of

Implementing a document management system will save you time and money!

Implementing a document management system will save you time and money!

customers data. Many companies operate on an ad-hoc reactive basis only developing systems when the need arises or when there is an obvious breakdown in the management of internal processes.

Unstructured and ad-hoc solutions evolve out of a legacy of existent systems most of which are paper based resulting in duplication, non standard and system inefficiencies.

This coupled with the increasing public awareness in the sensitivity of data exposes companies to unncessary risks and cost.

How do you manage your documents?

Information management is a critical part of the business process on par with more traditional business operations but few organisations consider it to be so or, have the time or expertise to build an information management program.

Document Management is one of the more complex and sensitive jobs that an organisation has to manage.

Documents are created, edited, published, revised and stored either as a paper file or electronically. This is referred to as the documentation life cycle and managing the procedure is known as document management.

Companies create and store many business documents with people contributing to the system daily making the management of the process an even greater challenge.

When a document is created electronically, it requires some storage space on a PC. Someone creates a document but it is feasible that several other people in the company may require access to it this can be problematic if the organisation has many employees and this is further complicated when you factor in employees who work remotely or are located all over the world rendering saving the document on a personal computer locally inaccessible.

Document Management systems reduce paper filing provide instant access to files, can store any document type securely.

Document Management systems reduce paper filing provide instant access to files, can store any document type securely.

Here are some tips on how to implement a document management system using an outsource partner

  • Hosted document management solutions offer a pay-as-you-go model based only on the services you need and the volume you process. The solution provider is responsible for hardware and software upgrades giving you access to the latest features without capital expenditure. A hosted document management solution can be running in a matter of weeks compared to the months it takes to evaluate, procure and then install an in-house solution.
  • The average business produces a massive volume of documents which can make locating and retrieving documents in a timely fashion a real challenge and to compound matters files are often filed in non standard indexing systems making documents difficult to find. A single source supplier for document management solutions can help reduce operational and legal risks by managing a company’s information assets as they have the expertise, infrastructure and knowledge to provide best practices for implementation.
  • Workers waste thousands of pounds each year trying to find information that doesn’t exist, can’t be found or is recreated again. Up to 50% of our time can be wasted trying to find the information we need.
  • Outsourcing enables the service provider to minimise your business risk associated with in-house solutions where physical records are moved offsite to storage facilities, scanned and then returned for re-filing increasing the risk of lost and incorrectly filed documents. Physical documents are easier to find, scan and can be filed in a single location and the paper document never leaves the security of the vendor’s facility. Audit trails are maintained making it easier to access valuable content.
  • Managing documents with unstructured content and in a non standard format requires additional business and information technology resource. Documents stored in cabinets, record storage boxes and scattered in different locations and electronic files stored in multiple applications makes accessibility a real challenge. Using a DMS combines the cost effectiveness of traditional paper storage for the bulk of your records with the speed, convenience and cost savings of digital access. Files are kept in paper format and are scanned on demand.
  • Employees want self service access and retrieval and as speed is of the essence digital file access has to be put in the hands of end users. A hosted document management system can support this requirement providing intelligent scanning and image capture features supported by a digitisation process. Once documents are imaged they can be made available via an FTP site (File Transfer Protocol), ECM system (Enterprise Content Management) or via a hosted repository.
  • Few organisations have the resources or expertise to create or implement an effective document management strategy and solution. When outsourced the vendor takes care of the document management conversion, information security and privacy making sure best practices and compliance are followed.
  • Implementing a DMS can be a foreboding exercise but using an experienced provider who can manage the complexities of setting up a program cost effectively and efficiently will save time and money and will provide considerable value to the organisation in the long term.

Alchemy Document Management solutions and software creates a digital file cabinet for your company where you can securely store any document type and then find it within seconds. Providing document scanning, document imaging, document archiving, fax archiving and electronic records management capabilities.

For an impartial chat call us

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How print management software saves you money.

How to automate print in your company employing print management software.

Most companies have the option to insource or outsource their document printing and manage document flow thereby managing print costs.

Print management software helps companies gain control and management of their printing to reduce costs, increase document security by automatically enforcing printing rules, authenticating users and identifying and allocating document costs.

I’ve exemplified the benefits that can be had by outsourcing documents and demonstrated effective ways where organisations can save money.

But, what if an organisation can’t or simply wont outsource these business processes due to system limitations or compliance to a specific process and or system?

Like every story there are always two sides.

What can a company do to ensure its paper flow is…

kept flowing?

Implementing a strategic print management software application can ensure you automatically control and manage how print flows through your organisation satisfying three primary objectives:

  • improve productivity
  • maximise time
  • reduce paper

Using a print management application with effective print controls automates and optimises the way print moves around a building. Setting specific print controls and denying users printing from certain open applications such as email and automatically re-routing that task to the most cost effective printer such as a mono printer rather than an ink guzzling colour cartridge printer can help drive down the print costs for a company.

Industry analysts estimate that over 44% of printing is unncessary. We print things more than once, instead of selecting the pages we print which might only be one page we end up hitting the “print all” button.

Wasted paper, consumables, escalating electricity bills are the hidden costs behind unnecessary printing therefore opting for print management software helps companies regain control and management of their printing to reduce costs and increase productivity. 

By measuring, monitoring and managing print activity, print management software provides a way for companies to gain a clearer picture of a company’s printing needs and then enables the effective deployment of equipment to meet those needs without spending capital on printing technologies that are either inappropriate for the tasks required or are so costly that the ROI will take years.

The deployment of print management software tools within an organisation helps employees become more aware of their printing habits, provides tools to enforce print policies by re-routing print jobs to cheaper printers, reduce print/copy costs, improve document security on the network and eliminate waste and inefficiencies within an enterprise.

What exactly does a managed print service do for a company?

  • An MPS (Managed Print service) tracks print, copy and scan activity company wide
  • Allocate document costs to a department or office
  • Set and enforce print/copy quotas to prevent paper waste
  • Makes printing easy and convenient and more secure
  • Re-direct print jobs to more cost effective devices
  • Reporting functionality which enables a company to keep print costs down

Deploying a cost effective print managed service can save a company money if implemented in the right way.

What do you do to keep print costs down?

What strategies have you employed to reduce the amount of paper that flows through your company?

Let me know what has worked and what hasn’t?

If your company is slowly going under paper then call us to discuss your requirements.

In the first instance we will do a print audit  free of charge.

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