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Understanding Document Management

Every day of our lives, we create or generate documents.  They surround us in the workplace, and in our homes.  Yet few understand the basic concepts of managing documents, especially using our computers.  This introduction will help you understand this topic and get some ideas of how to manage your documents.

What Is Document Management?

Document management is defined as the “creation, storage, organization, transmission, retrieval, manipulation, update, and eventual disposition of documents to fulfill an organizational purpose”. These documents may have originally been in paper format such as photographs or printed text and have been scanned and digitized using a computer to make them electronically traceable. Document management is related to digital asset management, document imaging and optical character recognition (OCR).

Most commercial document management solutions address the following situations:

  • Location – Where will documents be stored?
  • Filing – How will documents be indexed and filed away?
  • Retrieval – How will documents be found? This encompasses browsing through documents and search for specific documents.
  • Security – How will documents be kept out of the hands of unauthorized users?
  • Disaster Recovery – How can documents be recovered in case of disasters, natural or otherwise?
  • Retention – How long are documents kept on file before they are deleted or removed?
  • Archiving – How can documents that have been removed from active repositories be preserved in a separate area?
  • Distribution – How can documents be made available to the people that need them?
  • Workflow – If documents pass through multiple parties, what are the rules for the workflow?
  • Creation – How are documents created and how is version control implemented?
  • Authentication/Approval – How does the system ensure that documents are original and meet the standards for authentication

Products like the HP Scanjet N7710 Sheetfed/Flatbed
Document Scanner are ideal for in-house document management.

Document Scanning Services

Companies may accumulate so many non-electronic documents that they may reach a point where retrieving vital documents becomes a tedious task that cam result in wasted time and money. Bulky boxes of documents are also very expensive to store, especially in prime office buildings where space could be much better utilized by housing staff. Deterioration and constant handling will also damage documents and lead to information loss. The obvious solution to these problems is to digitize all the documents and file them away into a document management system for easy retrieval. Some companies that offer commercial document management solutions also offer document scanning services. This can be a very valuable service to many companies as they may not have the resources or manpower to scan and index documents in large volumes. Documents are not always simply converted to images. Most document scanning services also use optical character recognition software to convert digital images to machine readable text. This will later allow for searching within documents.


Along with commercial document management software, some companies offer other solutions related to document management. One of these services is archiving. Companies don’t always have the capacity to archive all their data that is no longer in their active repository. They may want to move data that is no longer used out of their existing system to reduce search times, but at the same time keep the unused data in an easily accessible archive for future use. The solution to this is a document management service that archives the company’s data in such a way that it can be easily retrieved in the future. The obvious benefits to this are that the size of the active database is reduced, reducing the time it takes the retrieve active and relevant data. The inactive data is archived in a different location where the company can later access it when needed. Document management services usually provide their clients with tools that let them easily access archived data. An example of this is a web based interface that lets the company remotely access their archived data through the use of a web browser.

Archiving on recordable DVDs is a very practical way
to maintain and manage documents locally.

Electronic Data Management Services (EDMS) can be a very valuable asset to large companies that need to streamline the way they handle documents. By using EDMS, companies can cut down on the time it takes to retrieve important documents and cut down on the space required to archive boxes of documents, saving them time and money.

Kristoffer Scheyer
Staff Technology Writer

Tags: Document Management, Document Scanning