Access and Feeds

Document Management: Smaller Businesses Slowly Becoming Adopters

By Dick Weisinger

Electronic Document Management has been around since the 1980’s, and most large companies today are using some type of document management technology.  It’s easy to see why it is so popular.  Some of the benefits that can be derived from document management technology include the following:

  • Distribution – Document management allows easy distribution of documents to many people, across many locations.
  • Searchability – Full text search across a repository of electronic documents allows documents to be found in seconds, compared to long times often required to find physical documents stored in filing cabinets and storage warehouses.
  • Security – Documents stored electronically are more easily secured than paper documents stored in filing cabinets and boxes.   Granular permissions on electronic document ensure that only those users with appropriate permissions are able to retrieve and access documents which they have permission to see.
  • Saves Space – Electronic documents eliminates the space needed to store physical documents, freeing up significant floor space.
  • Compliance – Electronic documents can be configured to easily comply with laws and regulations, and demonstration of that compliance is more easily proved with an electronic system, as compared with a manual system which uses physical documents.

But despite the fact that there are many benefits, many small and medium sized companies still are not using document management.  The cost of the systems has been a major issue, but that is less of a factor — products like Alfresco and SharePoint now provide significant functionality at much lower price points than were ever possible previously.

A recent article by the online ‘Financial Planning’ magazine is an example of how document management is now gradually penetrating smaller businesses, such as those of independent financial planners and advisors.  Financial advisors were asked in a survey of technologies found that when asked what document management technology they use, 42 percent said that Adobe Acrobat was their principal document management solution.  Another 9 percent cited the product PaperPort.

But Acrobat is not a document management solution, and Paperport also offers primarily PDF file-format creation capabilities.  These are not document management solutiions.  The survey by Financial Planning concluded that as many as 70 percent of financial advisors don’t yet use Document Management.   The article concludes that “FP’s analysis shows some advisors are still a bit clueless with regard to document management software.   This despite the fact that studies have shown the return on investment can be substantial.”

William Nicrosi, an investment counselor at Leavell Investment Management in Mobile, Alabama, said that “Document management is very important to us but we struggle with the implementation of a paperless office.  Being able to convert all types of files to an Acrobat PDF file is wonderful.  … But we would be willing to pay for a consultant that can offer a complete solution – that works – for document management. We are in the business of planning and investing – not document management.”

It’s likely that financial planning advisors are just one example of a category of small and medium sized businesses which could benefit from the use of document management technology.

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