It's hard to generate enthusiasm for record management systems! It does not help that people still equate them to handling physical documents, perhaps memories of their "To Be Filed" tray and the loathsome task of emptying it.

The annoying aspects of physical filing in bulk are:

  • refamiliarizing yourself with documents you have already read - just to file them
  • rifling through manila folders trying to find the right drop slot
  • knowing the filing categories and deciding which one
  • doing it all again in the opposite direction when you want to find a file

It's no wonder that document processing is almost intergenerationally disliked as if embedded in our DNA!

Document filing

The move to Electronic Document and Record Management Systems (EDRMS) in the 80's and 90's brought many new features, like workflow and version control. While the media changed from physical to electronic, filing and accessing documents was still a manual process. The confidence that documents were being correctly identified and categorized remained at a low level.

We can make filing far more effective by integrating the systems that need to use the document with the EDRMS that stores it. The goal is to make the EDRMS essentially disappear so filing is never explicitly required. When the creator saves the document, it is automatically saved in the correct context, for example, linked to the CRM contact record. Because the document is filed at create time, and known intimately by the author, it is more likely to be categorized correctly.

Of course, the technical challenge with documents is their storage size. In many cases, the sheer volume of stored information challenges the use of cloud solutions so the life of legacy EDRMS systems is extended. Further, Government departments are constrained by regulation and security concerns around cloud systems so local network EDRMS systems may be with us for some time.

EDRMS document filing, 2018 style, is headed in new directions but not quickly. We know what we need but forces are in place to slow our progress to the ideals of the future: 

  • Seamless integration with core systems so documents are auto-archived and users don't need to move to different systems to access, process or archive documents
  • Cloud-based systems so documents are available anywhere, anytime via a web browser
  • Support for mobile devices so users can work "on the move"
  • File sharing features so internal groups can collaborate on documents (group editing), or share them with external clients

There are various cloud hybrids and offerings that go some way towards this vision. For example, our Salesforce integrations with Micro Focus Content Manager successfully distance Salesforce users from the EDRMS making document processing transparent.

For enterprise businesses, the tyrannies of file size, network bandwidth, government regulation, and security concerns are key impediments to the emergence of exciting new disruptive technologies in this space.