That’s what research group Bitkom found in its recent study on the effectiveness of enterprise content management (ECM) at mid-sized companies.
The study lists the top five benefits these companies report after moving to an ECM or document management solution:
1) Faster, mobile access to business information (90 percent of respondents)
The ability to access all of your business information anywhere, anytime and with any device offers great benefits for productivity, and also tends to improve the quality of decision making. If your company hasn’t had these mobile capabilities thus far, you won’t know the full extent of that productivity boost until you’re actually using it.
To turn that productivity into ROI, companies need a plan for what they’ll do with the time saved by using digital document management. For example, if document management eliminated manual tasks and freed up 30 to 60 minutes a day for each of your employees, how do you plan to use that time to drive additional revenue and efficiency?
If you have a clear strategy for how to reallocate time and resources to more productive activities that generate revenue or reduce risk, it’s relatively easy to see how investing in document management would contribute to the success of the organization. But if you don’t know what you’d do with that reclaimed time, it’s difficult to define the value of the investment.
2) Protection against document and information loss (75 percent)
If your company isn’t able to provide information in a timely fashion and ensure its safety, it exposes your business to a variety of risks and penalties. By improving document storage, access and security, a document management solution greatly reduces these risks for mid-sized businesses.
3) Reduced document handling costs (60 percent)
When you’re relying on paper, invoicing and other document-based processes require a great deal of time and effort from employees. A well-designed document management solution allows you to automate these tedious processes using digital workflows, which reduce handling costs and free up employee time.
4) Reduced burden in maintaining compliance (52 percent)
In a paper-based office, maintaining compliance with industry and governmental regulations is difficult and expensive, and preparing for an audit is a long, painful process. For most mid-sized companies, the main compliance obstacle is how they manage emails and files.
To find a document when you need it, first it must be stored correctly — and that’s why it must be easy for employees to store emails and files. If storing them is a painful process (or even impossible), your employees don’t store the right documents and you’re not able to find them in the event of an audit.
Email typically presents the biggest problem, as people tend to let important information and documents sit in their inbox instead of storing them correctly. For example, when an employee emails an offer or a contract to a customer, they normally leave that communication in their email account. If that person leaves your organization, you’re left with 500,000 emails in an inbox, and no good way to retrieve those offers and the contracts.
Many companies lack a governance policy for email and don’t have a simple mechanism for storing these documents, which creates compliance problems. Another issue is when employees save files onto their desktop PCs instead of on the server; those files probably won’t be correctly backed up, creating additional compliance risks.
With digital document management, it takes much less time and effort to prepare for an audit, because you’re able to quickly retrieve the right documents and prepare them for an auditor. There’s also less risk of being fined for noncompliance, because all of your information is readily available for discovery.
5) Improved process efficiency, controlling costs (47 percent)
Much of the cost of business processes comes from time wasted on forwarding documents and other information between individuals and departments. A typical accounts payable approval process, for example, could take between two or three weeks from the time the invoice arrives, and much of that time is wasted on forwarding.
Someone would first have to open a paper invoice at reception and then forward it to accounting. From there, accounting would forward it to the appropriate line-item managers and again to the finance director. Eventually, the invoice is forwarded back to accounting and paid.
With a digital workflow in place through a document management solution, this invoice approval process could be completed within two or three days, instead of two or three weeks. You might find that your accounting department would only need two people to process 100 invoices instead of three people and make fewer errors. This process efficiency translates into additional value for the organization, including customer satisfaction.
This efficiency improvement unlocks a variety of sub-benefits, such as better cash flow and capturing early payment discounts. To calculate the ROI for improving your AP processing, for example, you could look at the average percentage of early payment discounts you previously captured and compare it to the discounts you’d receive with streamlined digital workflows. Calculating those savings would help you determine your return on investment.
These five benefits are where document management delivers the most value and demonstrates cost-effectiveness. When you’re deciding whether or not document management makes sense for you, these high-value elements should form the basis of your cost-benefit analysis.
Discover the true value of increasing efficiency and productivity through document management. Download our free e-book, Cost-Effective Document Management: A Guide For Mid-Sized Businesses.