Different Methods and Approaches to Document Management

Today, there are essentially 8 approaches and methods to Document Management that are popular. Often the lines between the different approaches are blurred. Some clearly shouldn’t be used for document management but remain popular and major drain on operational effectiveness and efficiency:

  • Document Management Systems (DMS)


    These solutions are designed for and have a core strength in the management of documents and content. They are typically platforms that manage every aspect of a documents lifecycle from access and search, to sharing, collaborating, workflows and also archiving, insight from anywhere. Their core focus and capability though, as the name suggests, is managing documents and content. DMS can be in the cloud or on premise and there are 2 board sub-group.

    • Enterprise – for management all forms content across business silos and departments are powerful, scalable customisable platforms that can be tailored to almost any purpose. Sometimes these are called Enterprise Content Management Systems or Managed Content Services.
    • Departmental – these DMS tend to be lighter weight and are better suited to the Document Management challenges of a single department or team rather than having the scale to manage all content and workflows across a business and its departments.
  • Cloud-based File storage.


    Whilst many of the other document management solutions can be cloud based as well, this category of Cloud-based File storage solutions are designed really for the transfer of data – often large quantities of data temporarily. Other than that they often have very limited document management capabilities and so in many cases acerbate the “information chaos” especially as there are many cloud-based solutions that offer this capability.

  • Collaboration platforms & workplace productivity suites


    Collaboration and workplace productivity solutions such as Microsoft 365 often have document management capabilities and mechanism for sharing content ie Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Onedrive. Whilst each of these applications serve a purpose for collaboration, their end to end Document Management capabilities can be limited and can contribute to “document chaos”. Modern Document Management solutions tend to integrate with these platforms such as Microsoft 365 to provide those capabilities alongside the benefits of Document Management

  • Within a core Business Management System


    Larger businesses will run their business operations on several core business systems such as an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Supply Chain Management (SCM) system. These systems handle structured and transactional processes well – but often not the documents. Their document processing and management capabilities are often very limited. Furthermore customisation of these systems is widely recognised as complex, time consuming and expensive. Most BPM or DMS solutions integrate with core business systems to manage the documents and fill any specific workflow requirements not easily possible via the core system.

  • Business Process Management (BPM) Solutions


    These solutions have a strength in managing, optimising and automating digital processes. There are typically platforms that manage every aspect of a Business Process which often includes the management of documents relating to the process. They tend to have all the end to end management capabilities of a Document Management System alongside powerful workflow capabilities that can easily handle customisations, integrations to all most any system such as an ERP as well as complex workflows mapping, governance and execution such as concurrent processes or require a mix of automated with human processes and intervention. They excel at digital processes, management and automation of them. The more advanced ones adhere to the industry standard for Business Process Modelling and Notation (BPMN 2.0).

    There are 2 broad categories of BPM solutions.

    Application Specific – These BPM solutions are typically optimised for automating and managing one or a collection of very specific processes in a business or department such as Expenses, Account Payable, Employee or student Onboarding etc. Their specialism and strength can also be their weakness in some cases as it encourage silos. These applications will typically integrate with other systems and typically manage associated documents.
    Customisable BPM Platforms –  These BPM platforms are highly customisable and can be tailored to manage almost any document or digital process. They often include templates or pre-configured solutions for certain departmental processes or knowledge work. They tend to have a strength in integration with other systems and applications. They typically incorporate the full suite of Document Management and BPM capabilities for managing and automating the management of documents and data throughout its life. BPM platforms can help remove silos in information and documents, systems and cost. Key Applications include contract management, finance workflows, sales proposal management, Internal or external approvals, HR document workflows, sales order processing, case management, project management and customer specific workflows.

  • Email


    Surprisingly 69% respondents still use email to store and manage documents. It is arguably the least equipped to manage business information and documents. Still its use for this purpose is wide spread and might explain why there is so much waste and “information chaos” in businesses today.

  • Shared drive & folders


    Many businesses (55%) still have old departmental file shares that can only be accessed on the network or via VPN access. This is a really basic form Document Management that is really only a limited storage tool. Core document management capabilities around search, version control, easy & governed collaboration and editing of documents, back-ups, easy access from anywhere, meta-data driven capabilities, user-based control, tracking – are all completely missing.  This approach doesn’t have the benefits of Document Management System and is a major source of operational inefficiency and risk.

  • Paper filing cabinet!


    It still happens and many businesses and organisations haven’t moved to digital processes. Those relying on paper based (47%) processes will be struggling due to the rapid shifts to remote working. There isn’t really any need for paper based processes and any exceptions should be digitised and incorporated into digital processes.

More Information & How Can We Help?

We offer no-obligation assessments, consultations to help you consider and identify the right method of document management for your organisation. To find out more or to book a consultation, please call +44 (0)1962 835053, email enquiries@processflows.co.uk, or fill in the form below.

Thank you for your interest, we look forward to working with you.

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