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How Document Indexing Best Practices Support Compliance

Meeting compliance standards is no easy feat. The constantly evolving nature of regulations, coupled with the introduction of new ones, means that businesses must remain vigilant and adaptable. 2023 has already been a banner year for the introduction of new privacy regulations in the United States (US). As of January 1, 2023, two new privacy laws have gone into effect in the US: the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA), which amends the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA). Later this year, three more US-based regulations will take effect. And the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) continues to affect companies in the European Union (EU) and across the world because it applies to every company that does business with EU citizens.

While no one can predict how the regulatory environment will affect your business, document indexing software, which is included in a document management system, can supply a flexible and reliable structure for your compliance efforts. Document indexing is the first step you take to begin organizing your documents for maximum searchability while ensuring that they’re private and secure. Getting it right at the start will pay off later during internal and external audits and anytime you need to produce documents to prove compliance.  
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Once indexing is completed, the document management system’s automated workflow can be used to enforce business rules and policies that you define. While these requirements are certain to change as time goes on, once you’ve created the underlying framework, it’s easier to change it in response to new regulations. 

Why document indexing is vital for regulatory compliance  

Maintaining digital information to follow regulatory standards can be challenging, particularly when organizations store it on paper or on several different platforms. That's why choosing document indexing software with robust capabilities is so important. With document indexing software, companies can secure files and records, ensure quick retrieval of vital documents and automatically enforce retention schedules.  

Benefits of using document indexing software for compliance

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Document indexing software offers several benefits that contribute to the success of regulatory compliance initiatives
Here are some of the most significant ones:  
  • Elimination of loss or misfiling — Because documents are stored electronically by document type, no processes are stalled because documents are under a pile of paper on somebody's desk or in the wrong file. 
  • Lightning-fast search — Document indexing software helps organizations quickly find the documents they need. The software's search function has multiple options based on specific criteria such as date range, customer name, employee name, or other ID numbers, making record retrieval fast and efficient. 
  • Improved collaboration — Document indexing software helps improve teamwork and collaboration since the files can be easily shared and found by every authorized employee. The software ensures that all stakeholders with the appropriate permission have access to relevant documents. 
  • Better compliance and security — Document indexing software helps keep files better organized, improving compliance with security regulations. The systematic management of documents and records, which includes version control, ensures that they can be easily found, updated, and secured while assuring the confidentiality of the information.  

Glossary of indexing terms you should know 

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A database is an organized, secure collection of electronic records stored in a central file and accessible by authorized users. Digitalization enables a software program to reference the information to answer queries for users quickly and flexibly. 
A document indexing method categorizes documents by defining which data elements should be used to describe them. Document indexing software works by labeling digital files with terms and keywords that make finding them easier and faster. The software should have a user-friendly interface that allows companies to manage files from a central location.   
A document type designates whether, for example, the document is an invoice, a contract, product spec, a certificate of completion for required training or something else. Each item within a document type has the same index fields, and this supplies the first level of classification. 
3 main types of indexing 
  1. Indexing by data fields enables you to look for a single or a group of search terms. For example, all performance reviews related to a particular employee or invoices over a certain amount. Data fields can also be used to assign permissions to your colleagues. Easily grant them read permissions, print or edit permissions. If you don’t want to share the document right away; you can leave these fields empty. If the document's status changes, you should be able to fill these fields automatically. 
  2. Fulltext indexing simplifies search and retrieval. Every word in the document is indexed into a master word list with pointers to the documents and pages where each occurrence of the word appears.
  3. Metadata, which identifies the characteristics of the data it describes, can be used as index data. A barcode is a type of metadata. For example, the barcode a manufacturer uses to categorize a product might contain details like size, type and quality specifications. The table row and column headers in a spreadsheet are also considered metadata because they put the information in context. The ability to search for a particular feature of that metadata makes it much easier to locate a specific document. 
Machine learning is an AI-based feature that speeds up the indexing process. Software such as DocuWare Intelligent Indexing learns from your corrections. It remembers the correct term and its position and will index the document correctly the next time it's filed. When search terms such as customer names or numbers already exist in other data sources such as customer relationship management software (CRM), it brings additional efficiency to data capture. For example, when filing invoices, the indexing software can automatically use a validation feature to check if a supplier number exists in a CRM. 

7 features you should look for when selecting  document indexing software 

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  1. A user-friendly interface 
  2. A product, company and platform that meets the requirements of standards and regulations to ensure your information and data security.
  3. AI capabilities like machine learning
  4. Robust search functionality 
  5. Automated indexing  
  6. The ability to integrate with your other business software
  7. High-quality customer support 

The importance of investing in document indexing software  

Implementing document indexing software is essential for navigating the complexities of regulatory compliance. It enables businesses to keep track of stored documents, retrieve them quickly, collaborate more effectively, support compliance, and ensure confidentiality. By investing in document indexing technology, companies can keep accurate records so that they can confidently report to regulatory agencies.  
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