Why electronic document management services are essential

In 2015, I bought a new house. An adorable little thing in the city of Cleveland. It was old and had lots of character, just like me. It had everything I wanted: three bedrooms, two baths and a finished basement. Perfect for me and my two kids, with the exception of one thing … it didn’t have an HVAC system.

In case you don’t know, HVAC stands for heating, venting and cooling. So basically, my house lacked central heat and air conditioning.

We moved in during the fall, so for the first few months, we barely noticed. We kept the windows open, and we were fine.

But by winter, we were freezing. Using space heaters. Lighting a fire at night. We wore our winter coats, hats and gloves in the house. I lived in constant fear that my pipes would freeze! In the summer, we were sweating profusely.

Luckily, I love hot yoga. But my little girl Margaret, who just runs “hot” would ask it she could sleep with ice packs, so we just kept a bunch in the freezer.

Some of you might be thinking, “A house without HVAC? That sounds too crazy to be true!”

And you’d be right. That would be crazy. And it’s not true.

But this is exactly what I think of when I hear about a document management solution without EDMS; it’s like investing in a home without an HVAC system.

A good foundation

Just like HVAC, you might not have known EDMS stands for electronic document management services, but it is an integral part of an enterprise information platform.

Electronic document management services is at the HEART of what we do. It’s electronic, but really, the ‘e’ should stand for ‘essential.’

The primary feature of EDMS is revisions and versions. If your organization wants to do more than just archive content, you have to have it. Otherwise, you’re writing over existing documents or creating tons of new ones without any organization or history of modifications.

Like a house in Cleveland without heating or cooling. It’s crazy. The pipes will freeze! Can you imagine creating a document and not being able to make a trackable change?

That’s what it’s like when you manage documents outside of OnBase. We’ve all been there.

We can all picture that gigantic file share that’s loaded full of different versions of a document:

  • Colleen’s edits
  • Tom’s changes, v1, v2, v3 – all stamped with ‘today’s’ date
  • Final-Final-Final

Of course, you have no clue which is the most recent, who made the change and exactly what the change was. And that’s not a good thing. For example, an outdated product price list.

In OnBase, these revisions are stacked on top of each other as a single hit in the list, with the most recent at the top. We instantly know we have multiple revisions, but can easily see which one is the most recent. To view previous revisions, simply right-click. Once changes are complete, a document revision can be stamped as a VERSION—this provides piece of mind, but also allows organizations to segment privileges between draft (HR) and final copies (all employees).

Revisionist history

When it comes to Word documents, there’s a bonus – much like finding a hidden treasure chest in the basement. Directly from this list of revisions, we can select two and compare them, displaying EXACTLY what has changed.

This is HUGE in the case of legal contracts.

When it comes to revisions, we commonly think of Word documents or Office file formats, which makes complete sense for these productivity (editable, word processing) file types. But in OnBase, any document or any file format can be revisable and have revisions – even IMAGES.

Using image markups (also a feature of EDMS), we can DRAW on documents using the markups toolbar, permanently burning the markups into the document. Anything you would do with a pencil or pen on a piece of paper, we recreate electronically in OnBase. And, thanks to revisions, we can save the markup copy as a revision of the original.

But there’s more! EDMS also provides:

  • Persistent Checkout

A way to lock documents for online editing across sessions (and/or checkout to your workstation, open in native application or checkout to Google drive) and check back in as a revision

  • Document Templates

Word templates you can populate to create new documents in order to maintain consistency

  • Multiple Drag/Drop Import functionality

The ability to upload more than one document at a time by dragging from the desktop to the import layout – you can even upload as a single file or multiple documents

If you own, or are considering investing in a document management system or an enterprise information platform that doesn’t have these essential components, it’s like buying a house without an HVAC system. It’s just nuts!

For the record, no children were harmed in the writing of this blog post.

Colleen Alber

Colleen Alber

Colleen Alber is a dynamic, energetic software product evangelist who inspires others with purpose and passion for technology, yoga and life.

2 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Awesome analogy, great post!

  2. kikisway says:

    Colleen Alber, thanks! And thanks for sharing your great posts every week!

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