Have you ever found a jar of mustard in the fruit drawer of your refrigerator? How about the Penske file in the folder labeled Clients D-E? Let’s face it, there are those of us that are very organized and there are others that aren’t. This could be at home or at the office and it can be both frustrating and in the case of the office, costly.
We were recently asked if there is an optimal company size that dictates when it’s time to use an electronic document management system (EDMS) rather than a file storage solution like a network drive? I would say as soon as you find the mustard in the fruit drawer, it’s time. However, there are several factors that should be taken into consideration when considering the need for an EDMS and two stand out, number of employees and industry the business operates in.
The number of employees or users is certainly a very important factor. With a large number of employees, the quantity of files can grow so large that it becomes impossible to find documents. All or most of the employees may be well intentioned, but there are going to be some that just don’t have the organization gene. Every company has experienced the all-hands-on-deck search for a file and every company knows that is costly. But it’s also costly when every document search takes even 30 seconds longer than it should and you multiply that by 500 or 1,000 employees searching every day.
When you have a small company, it’s much easier to overcome a lost file. Everyone knows that Jake is prone to put things in the fruit drawer so look there first. But when employees are spread out over multiple office locations or there are thousands, it‘s not practical to function based on guidelines or tendencies alone. An EDMS with automated rules that force users to provide some basic information for new files will significantly reduce the instances of lost files and speed up the every-day search as well.
The other factor that can drive the need for an EDMS is the industry that the business operates in. Even a small company with only 50 or 100 employees may find that they need to have detailed file access logs and strict file sharing permissions enforced to meet industry standards. It’s even possible that the industry has specific solutions that are standard or solutions that must meet certifications like department of defense (DOD) or Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS). Windows explorer does not meet either.
There are other reasons that companies want to use and should use an EDMS. Just the fact that an EDMS makes finding, sharing and collaborating on documents easier is a good reason as those things lead to a more efficient company. Smaller companies can use that solid, EDMS enabled foundation to become larger companies. There is no doubt that large companies with hundreds of employees need EDMS. Do some math on time saved and lost document costs. Then throw in other efficiency gains from available workflow and collaboration. You might find that the optimal size company is much smaller than you thought.