In most companies, documents are stored in a variety of places — on networks, individual hard drives, CDs, and DVDs, in file cabinets, and in desk drawers. The answer for an increasing number of businesses is a document-management system. Document management is a technology-based means of storing documents. Documents (and sometimes images) are held in a single repository that simplifies managing and retrieving the files. Organizations have diverse needs, so systems are often custom-designed.

Document management typically begins with using a scanner to convert paper documents into digitized images. In the next step, sometimes referred to as indexing, the scanned image is usually given a name containing the date. The user is often asked to add “tags” or indexing criteria. The system stores the scanned file by associating the image with the tags. Accurate tags make it easier to find the document. When you need to retrieve a document from the system, you perform a search by entering one of the tags. The request is processed and the information is retrieved.

These systems include security measures to ensure that only authorized users have access. These measures determine which documents certain people can read, and what modifications they can make.

An effective document-management system helps companies become better organized by making it easier to file, share, retrieve, and secure information. Employees can also be more productive because they save time searching for critical information. A good document-management system also facilitates collaboration, decision-making, and the ability to build upon the work of others.

Digital files have functionality that is not possible with paper files. With a document-management system in place, multiple people, even those working from home offices or the field, can access and work on files simultaneously.

Improved customer service is another important byproduct. Files are at the fingertips of all employees so that customer inquiries can be answered more quickly and effectively. For more information, visit the VSCPA Web site at