The word "documents" is synonymous with business. Every employee, across every department, touches documents every day. These digital or paper-based trails are the breadcrumbs that bind your business together. It doesn't make sense, then, that most employees spend more time looking for documents than actually using them. The average employee spends a whopping 38 minutes per document in the search process. That's a problem! What's worse? The search doesn't center on finding a physical or digital document; it's spent looking for the right version of that document.
In today's information-based business ecosystem, trying to find the right version of a document is frustrating. Between email, text, SMS, SaaS, messaging apps, and online portals, keeping track of document touchpoints, additions, deletions, and ownership can be an overwhelming process that steals the energy and time of your employees. In fact, 83% of "knowledge workers" (i.e., virtually every employee) lose time to versioning issues every single day. This contributes to the scariest statistic of all: data professionals lose 50% of their day searching for the right information. Even employees who are disconnected from the data bubble admit to spending 25% of their week doing the same.
So there it is: the current business document ecosystem is a time-wasting horror show that burns money faster than a timeshare. How do you pull the plug on this productivity black hole? What does it take to put this document monstrosity out of its misery? Believe it or not, it's simple. It all starts with version control.
What is Version Control?
Version control is the process of tracking document changes (or versions) across your business ecosystem. In general, version control is a way to track the ever-growing cascade of digital documents that rain across your workspace. For a moment, let's imagine how many touchpoints intersect a single document. For salespeople, it takes an average of eight touchpoints (which all mean document version changes) before the sale is captured. For accounting and accounts payable, a single invoice can leak its way into multiple departments. And marketing documents undergo a barrage of changes before they're actionable enough for campaigns. In other words, your documents go through several iterations from creation to archive. Many versions.
Unfortunately, without version control, figuring out what version you need, what happened between versions, and where the latest version resides is a logistical hazard. Version control brings clarity and transparency to your document ecosystem. Instead of allowing everyone to collaborate "willy-nilly" with documents, version control tracks all changes to a document and ensures that everyone has a clear path to the latest document version (as well as a trail of breadcrumbs to past versions).
Tell Document Issues to SCRAM
To help illustrate the value of version control, let's look at some of the typical document issues organizations without version control face regularly. These are the issues that SCRAM with version control:
Today's business landscape is regulated. Without proper version control, you lose your ability to effectively create, track, and manage compliance across your information architecture. Trying to demystify compliance is difficult enough, but once you add in recordkeeping nightmares with versioning issues, things get messy — fast. Already, the average small business owner spends over 10 hours a month pouring through new legislation (GDPR alone is a 261-page Goliath). For larger companies, the picture isn't any clearer. A mere 6% of board members believe that their organization can effectively measure risk, and 57% of senior executives consider "risk and compliance" to be their two most significant business barriers.
Businesses lose $3.1 trillion per year due to poor data quality. These costs aren't accruing due to missed opportunities. These are direct costs. And most of these costs are due to poor decision-making. What happens when you make a data-driven decision using out-of-date data? For example, if a salesperson calls an already-captured lead, they're wasting time. That's a cost. Worse yet, what happens when a senior executive makes a strategic business decision (e.g., M&A, vendor selection, strategy, etc.) based on a five-month-old version of a document? That may be a huge cost. When you're dealing with an information architecture that's leaky with versioning issues, making poor decisions isn't a threat; it's an inevitability. And it can be embarrassing.
How often does one person complete a document from start-to-finish alone in a room? Almost never. Businesses live and thrive on collaboration. Unfortunately, all of this collaboration can create chaos for retention. You're required by law to retain specific documents for a certain amount of time. Simultaneously, you're required by law to destroy certain documents. So, what happens when you can't figure out which version to keep? Do you store them all? If so, what happens when you need to retrieve them? When it comes to deletion, how do you know you're deleting all versions of a document? Do you have a clear and consistent way to track your document? If not, you may have multiple versions lying around on various machines or clouds. That's a regulatory nightmare.
Trying to calculate the pure scale of business loss attributed to document issues is nearly impossible. But it's massive. Employees spend nearly 10 hours each week, searching for documents and information. When you multiply that across your organization, productivity loss attributed to "the search" is staggering. Worse, it's hard to track these types of costs. They slowly burn across your organization, and by the time you notice that revenue is dripping off your year-end projection charts, you're probably dealing with a full-blown wildfire. Here's where things get crazy: version control alone can contain some of that fire. Obviously, you still need additional capabilities (e.g., storage, digitization, security, etc.) to fully embrace a "biteable" (i.e., easy to search, find, and utilize) information architecture. But version control plays an invaluable role in stemming the tide.
Let's talk about transparency and monitoring. How do you know what's happening in your document ecosystem? Even if we exclude compliance and security requirements (which we cannot), tracking documents helps you discover productivity issues, innovation gaps, and employee frictions. Without version control, you're searching for a needle in a haystack. Version control shines a light on the needle and cleans up the haystack. Version control leads you right to your target—not to a pile of (itchy) chaos.
ECM, Version Control, and Taming the Document Ghouls
To be clear, version control alone isn't enough to solve your document management woes. It's simply a feature of a larger solution. Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a centralized document management solution that has rich, built-in document management features—like version control. In other words, ECM provides all the tools you need to wrangle the persistent and growing document management problem. Beyond version control, best-in-class ECM platforms also feature:
- Digital document capture
- Digital document storage
- Digital document retrieval and triage
- Document automation
- Document security
To put it simply, ECM helps you digitize paper-based documents, store your digital documents in a secure cloud server, and triage documents based on version control. Your ECM will breed transparency and expedite document storage, retention, and utilization. So, instead of wasting 40% of their day searching for the right information, your employees can instantly find the latest-and-greatest document and get back to doing what they do best — growing your business.
How DRS Can Help
At DRS, we're committed to helping organizations maximize the value of their data ecosystem. Documents are meant to support a collaborative culture, make smart decisions, and create profits — not cause productivity holes that corroborate revenue leakage. Our world-class Mercury ECM platform makes document management a breeze. With built-in version control and a wide variety of rich features, we create proven document frameworks that support growth and innovation. Are you ready to tame those documents? Contact us.