4 Tips for Implementing Electronic Document & Record Management Systems

Forty-six percent of employees say it's time-consuming and challenging to find the documents they need. Those same employees will waste 2.5 hours per day searching for the right documents. Converging modern digital needs with relic paper documents creates an uncomfortable collision course—a time-sapping document limbo. What can you do?

You can't get rid of paper. Customers still want it (though less now than ever), business workflows are still glued to it, and many departments couldn't function without it based on the way they're set up. There's a reason that McKinsey admits that "fully paperless processes have yet to materialize in most businesses." Like it or not, paper hasn't finished having its day. But do we all have to suffer the headaches of our mixed-tech modernity?

Nope! There's an easy way out.

Electronic Document and Record Management Systems digitize those paper documents (wholesale or in scheduled bunches). Not only does this open your tech stack to a world of delicious new data, but it chips away at the avalanche of paper on your work floor. But how does that actually happen? 

INDUSTRY REPORT: Top digital transformation innovations changing your industry

What Are Electronic Document and Record Management Systems?

Electronic Document and Record Management Systems (EDRMS) are digital filing cabinets that store, secure, govern, and retrieve digital files. For many organizations, EDRMS represents an easy and pain-free way to begin the digitization journey. EDRMS aren't as comprehensive and far-reaching as Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platforms, but they're easier to adopt in the short-term.

Important: Learn about the differences between EDRMS and ECM platforms.

According to McKinsey, a mere 30% of "digital transformations" actually succeed, the complexity of the journey being the root cause of the botched attempt. Many times, marketing and sales departments put pressure on companies to jump head-first into a web of SaaS and on-premise solutions. Unsurprisingly, this results in a myriad of headaches, lost investments, and failure. But EDRMS is an easy way to begin digitization, and it requires little up-front investment, few messy, cross-platform integrations, and no noisy or complex analytics or AI.

The core components of Electronic Document and Record Management Systems are:

  • Document repositories
  • Versioning
  • Editing controls (i.e., Check-in/Check-out)
  • Security and governance
  • Search and retrieval
  • Indexing

Each of these core components comes in a variety of flavors, so it's important to thoroughly vet your vendor before you buy. Easier said than done. Implementing an EDRMS isn't always a straightforward process. There are plenty of caveats to consider during the selection process. So, let's take a look at some tips you can use to vet your EDRMS.

Important: Long-term digital transformation requires more tangible document management solutions. Up to eighty percent of data harvested by employers is unstructured, and EDRMS cannot handle unstructured data like more comprehensive ECM solutions.

NEW GUIDE: How to Plan Your Move to Cloud Office Automation

4 Tips For Implementing an EDMS

Tip #1: Focus on Security

Sixty-eight percent of business leaders believe their cybersecurity risks are increasing. Despite this, business secure on average only 5% of their document folders. EDRMS systems bolster your security—but it can also hamper it. You're about to store your digital documents in a single system. It must be secure. This is the single most important tip; everything else is a wash if you fail to properly secure your files. Chances are, most of you will work with vendors to deploy an EDRMS. Ensure that your vendor is to-the-minute aware of modern security requirements.

On-premise security is significantly more expensive than cloud security. Take that into consideration. The cost-effectiveness and security enabled by private vendor clouds go well beyond expensive on-premise solutions, especially considering the need for disaster recovery. The ever-so-difficult "on-premise vs. public cloud vs. private cloud" debate should put security front-and-center. Otherwise, you may be looking at a $4 million bill.

Tip #2: Understand Policy, Law, and Governance

The torrential storm of data privacy laws, regulatory requirements, and local ordinances surrounding the average business is defeating. To date, there are over 117 omnibus data privacy bills alone — with a few thousand extra belonging to local regulatory bodies. Of course, in today's hyper-connected and highly-globalized landscape, virtually every business operates on a cross-border business model. So you have to follow them all. It's a nightmare.

Get on top of things by developing a governance implementation game plan. Figure out how you're going to comply with these data privacy requirements before implementation. Talk to your vendor, discuss it with your IT department, and draw up actionable strategies to tackle compliance early and often across your document ecosystem.

Tip #3: DIRKS

According to McKinsey, "clarity of digital themes" boosts the success rate of digital endeavors by 25%. To win your deployment, you need to understand exactly what you need out of your deployment. DIRKS (i.e., Developing and Implementing a Recordkeeping System) is an eight-step process for implementing recordkeeping systems invented for the Australian Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) in Sydney. This "old-school" strategy for implementation first introduced in 2003 still reigns true. In fact, DIRKS is included in ISO 15489 and AS 4390-1996, so it continues to inform policy.

  1. Preliminary Investigation: Why do you need a digital recordkeeping system? On the surface, this question is simple. Employees spend 50% of their time creating and searching for documents, and documentation frictions cause a 21% overall drop in productivity for non-digitized businesses. But you have to dig a little deeper. What do you do? How will you facilitate digitization? What unique compliance or security requirements does your business have? Think of this stage as a deep dive into your business and how it functions.
  2. Analyze Business Activity: What units and activities require digital recordkeeping? The typical document landscape is a web of interconnected business units and workflows. You need to unravel it. Knowing when and where you need document management can help you deploy and utilize your EDRMS appropriately. Don't invest before you know how to deploy and where you're going to see your highest ROI. Chances are, you have stakeholders to please. Failure to draw up early needs can result in failed implementations when stakeholders don't see that initial surge of productivity and value.
  3. Identify Requirements: This is all about governance. What are your legal and logistical concerns in terms of policy control, safety, security, and storage? What do you need to save, how long do you need to save it, and how heavily do you need to secure it?
  4. Assess Existing Systems: What are your existing digitization solutions? What are your existing physical document requirements? Figure out where you need recordkeeping and how it will intersect your existing solutions.
  5. Identify Recordkeeping Strategies: To develop a recordkeeping strategy, lean into culture requirements and existing business models. You don't have to upend traditional processes. Instead, try to facilitate their success with recordkeeping. Often, we see organizations take these massive plunges into digitization that involve upending all their existing workflows. EDRMS is ECM-light. You can work around your existing processes. Leverage your vendors' insight to help you build a solution that works for your exact situation.
  6. Design: You may or may not do this part. Designing a recordkeeping system based on those requirements can be costly. This is an area where it may make more sense to lean into vendor-driven solutions — since this is a mature market. Otherwise, expect to spend some capital developing your own system.
  7. Implementation: From roll-out to change management and training, this will be the longest stage. Work closely with your provider if possible.
  8. Post-implementation Review: Gather metrics, prove value, and adjust any flaws in your system. This is the most important stage. If you can prove value, you're golden. If you can't, you need to fix something.

Tip #4: Consider Indexing Requirements

The primary value lever of end-to-end document management is indexing. Versioning (i.e., keeping track of changes to prevent duplicates) and editing controls (i.e., ensuring that only one user can edit an instance of a document at a time) are important, but they're relatively straightforward. Indexing isn't. There are a variety of technologies at your fingertips. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can help you create metadata against text documents, and Intelligent Character Recognition (ICR) can help you go the extra mile by recognizing handwriting.

There are also indexing engines. For example, the DRS Mercury ECM can use auto-indexing features based on intelligent recognition. The way documents are indexed ultimately impacts how searchable and accurately stored they are in your system. So, this is a must-have feature that requires careful planning. You don't want to overspend for obvious reasons, but you don't want an underperforming system either.

How DRS Imaging Can Help

You don't have to embark on this journey alone. Implementing an EDRMS isn't an easy task, and there are plenty of tripwires littering the path to success.  At DRS Imaging, we built world-class document management platforms. From EDRMS and ECM to scanning services and intelligent capture programs, we help businesses worm their way out of the paper dystopia. Are you ready to build a more efficient and profitable business? Contact us