Here’s a situation that is probably familiar to many. The company you work for has a database or some type of online application that contains information on your customers; CRM, accounting system, ERP, etc. The customer calls and has a question. It appears that some information was entered into the “system” but from experience, you know to double check.
The double check usually involves pulling up the original documentation. This lack of trust is not entirely unfounded nor irrational. There are many unintentional mistakes made when doing data input or possibly mis-interpretation of terms. What is the best way to ensure your employees always find out what the real answer is?
The beauty of having information in a database rather than in a document format is research for sales, marketing, compliance or reporting purposes. How many contracts do we have that expire in the next 90 days or how many contracts do we have where the customer is NAICS code 99999? That is impossible to do if all you had was a filing cabinet or even with a powerful document management system. A database is needed.
Processes are being developed to incorporate the terms of a transaction that are captured in a CRM during contract negotiation, for instance, and then directly into a final version of a template document. That might help cut down on some input mistakes, but what if changes were made on the execution copy of the document? That issue alone may forever instill mistrust in the “system” and prolong the need for the double check.
Smart contracts based on blockchain hold some promise in that there really isn’t a document. The transaction is memorialized by data and information captured in a database – a blockchain structured database. The whole idea behind blockchain is that the distributed and replicated nature of the data renders the data unchangeable and therefore a form of contract. However, that also means everyone knows there was a transaction, which has its own downside.
One of the main drivers of value for any good document management system is in providing anytime/anywhere access to documents so employees can quickly pull up the original document and confirm the answer. This is a vast improvement over paper files which are slower to retrieve and restrict multi-location growth. The other value driver for a good document management system is in providing trusted access to the documents via input validation. Make sure in-bound documents go through some review or require matching to your “system”. That is where the real value is and where the best answers come from.