Doc hates to get too granular, but a white paper I recently came across seems well worth a look even though it deals specifically with the practices of personal-injury law firms. Seems these guys have a pretty heavy need for Electronic Document Management Systems (EDMS) due to the vast amounts of paperwork involved in such cases.
The white paper, which is free after registration, is available here from the magazine Business Solutions. It not only does a good job of defining EDMS, but goes on to suggest some of the steps that need to be considered when implementing such a system.
Simply put, an electronic document management system (EDMS) is a system that can replace paper files and documents in an office, and enable users to send electronic documents through the same steps a paper document or file would follow. EDMS systems are primarily used in the legal profession to increase efficiency and eliminate the costly inconsistencies that are common in a paper based process. For instance, if the firm has a new case form that is filled out for each client account and it must proceed from the attorney to a paralegal and then back to the attorney, then an EDMS must provide the same path.
So a true EDMS not only provides storage, but must provide the same workflow capabilities. Along the way it must also protect documents so that only authorized people can view, edit and/or delete documents based on the individual's access rights. An example might be a client's financial records. These records should be kept confidential and an audit trail kept of all access. An EDMS is a step up from the point solutions like spreadsheets and word processors as it is a firm wide solution. It must be easy and straightforward to use and ideally integrate with other applications the office is already using with a minimum of effort.
Doc knows that not everyone is a fan of personal injury law firms, but whatever your opinion, you do have admit that such firms handle an awful lot of paperwork. Managing all those documents can be daunting task and there are lessons to be learned for everyone.