Articles - Document management works & is needed,but why is it so hard?

We know document management works and is needed, but why is it so hard?

 The Finance community faces rigorous compliance demands compounded by senior management obligations for continuity planning. It’s a highly integrated industry and the pressures of multiple Financial Service Authority (FSA) requirements mean that firms must increasingly demonstrate easy, efficient and effective business solutions. Take, for example, document transmission and storage; a mundane but essential source of key client and transactional data which needs to be carefully managed. For too many firms this is a Cinderella issue and the potential risk is high, not just to cost, but also to reputation.

 The obvious solution is to leverage document management systems (DMS) to remove the reliance on paper, streamline processes and transform the timeliness of information access. But as many companies have discovered, the road to DMS can be strewn with pitfalls that can quickly derail a project.

 Mark Palmer, Director of Products and Marketing, Invu, explores the pre-requisites for a successful DMS deployment and guides organisations on how to deliver a highly effective and efficient business operation, not an expensive white elephant.

 Regulatory Environment
 In an industry with multiple regulations, the FSA’s demands for compliance and governance cannot be brushed aside. Where compliance or governance fails, then good document management records could potentially eliminate or reduce the risk of heavy financial repercussions, by providing an auditable trail of paper work.

 And yet many firms’ compliance is fundamentally undermined by their reliance on out-dated methods and their quaint paper storage. This all comes down to a reliance on poor manual, paper-based processes that slow down document retrieval and procurement.

 Less Haste, More Speed
 How can firms possibly guarantee regulatory and legal compliance without a clear auditable trail? Good document management relies on the regular review of records, with the controlled retention and destruction of information. The obvious answer is to adopt a Document Management System (DMS) to automate processes, eliminate paper, and achieve control over the document trail and hence financial procedures.

 But simply deciding to implement a DMS to become more efficient is not enough; this is a product set that can be deployed in many ways to meet numerous diverse regulatory and corporate requirements. Fully functional, wide-reaching solutions can take several years to deploy – during which time business needs have changed, and opportunities have been missed.

 The emphasis right now is to get rid of the paper-based processes that are compromising business value and compliance. Don’t get distracted by additional features, however appealing, simply because they are available. This whole process should take around one month – and certainly no more than three.

 Peripheral View
 Whilst imperative to clearly define the specific requirements, the exact implications of the objective must also be clearly understood – does it require lengthy integration with other systems, for example? The key is to define statements of work (SOW), undertake pre-implementation review sessions and work closely with a supplier. Use proof of concept trials, followed by staged implementations to create manageable projects that deliver incremental business value.

 It is also essential to avoid over-elaboration, a classic error with any functionally-rich technology. For example, DMS utilise configurable structures and metadata – most also enable content searching. Defining a complex taxonomy may appear the best route towards a flexible and future proof solution, but, as organisations have discovered, in areas where the filing is not automated, the overhead of working to the structure and metadata requirements resulted in slow operational processing, end user frustration and a reduction in Return on Investment (ROI). A simple taxonomy, with limited mandatory metadata, is actually a far more sustainable and usable model.

 It is easy to get derailed by DMS: this is a highly functional product set that can meet the very diverse needs of each and every organisation. The challenge is in effectively defining those needs and designing a simple, elegant solution that can be deployed quickly to meet those requirements. With the right approach, an organisation can transform operational efficiency, achieve clarity of communication and meet regulatory pressures. It can improve cash flow, drive down administrative costs and improve performance insight. Critically, it can become a far better business operation, and strengthen its position as a strong trading partner.

 By Mark Palmer, Invu

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