What Is the Difference Between Online and Offline Document Management?
Did you know that the average employee spends a quarter of their working day simply looking for things? These "things" include the documents and information they need to do their job.
That's an alarming statistic, especially in harsh economic conditions and a competitive global market. We need our teams to be as proactive and efficient as possible.
However, one can mitigate the curse of lost paperwork and a room full of archived documents by using online document management systems. Read on if you've been on the fence about digitisation within your business and still have some questions you'd like answered. We're looking objectively at the critical differences between online and offline document management systems.
What Are Document Management Systems?
Document management systems (DMS) are computer-based systems complete with software that stores, manages and tracks electronic documents.
Before the world went online, document management consisted of notes, books, typed records, or screeds of printed paper.
Logically, the only way to manage these documents was to file them carefully in whatever system made sense to a team. It allowed them to search alphabetically for papers and retrieve the required information. However, locating which client ordered from a particular supplier was almost impossible. Digitisation changed all this.
It allowed for more efficient filing systems using the magic of networked computers. We can see the benefits of migrating the creation and storage of documents to the digital realm. But; are you using your DMS to its fullest potential?
Offline Versus Online DMS
Offline DMS refer to both paper documents and those that are accessible from a computer or device. In contrast, online or cloud-based document management systems refer to off-site solutions that one can access from anywhere.
One of the drawbacks of offline DMS is that you may not always have access to your documents from wherever you are. On the other hand, you have the peace of mind that comes with knowing all your data is kept safely on your device.
Despite this peace of mind, it still means that you must regularly back up everything you store in case something happens to your laptop or an external hard drive.
On the other hand, an online system stores data on a remote server accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, giving users the flexibility to work from anywhere, which is a significant advantage. However, it also means you cannot access your files if the internet goes down.
Ease of Use
One of the critical differences between online and offline document management systems is their ease of use. An online system allows you to access your documents from wherever there is an internet connection. You can view, edit, and share documents from your home, office, or local coffee shop.
However, some people find this method difficult to use. They prefer a more hands-on approach to document management. Even offline DMS is better than the old paper-based systems, depending on your personal preferences.
Online document management systems are typically subscription-based, with costs spread over time. There may also be a pay-as-you-go option for those who don't want to commit to a long-term contract. Users are given a set number of documents (a limit) at any given time, and should they require more, they have to either buy more space or upgrade their account.
Offline DMS, however, requires purchasing physical hardware if more storage space is needed.
Physical documents or information stored on hard drives or computers require you to ensure their security in your office or home. In contrast, online document management systems offer the storage of documents on external servers that provide advanced security measures such as encryption and firewalls.
Key Benefits and Risks of an Online DMS
If you have chosen to take your information and systems online, then be sure you're working with a professional and reliable organisation. Only then can you be assured that you're reaping the benefits of your online DMS, namely:
- A user-friendly interface that makes creating and finding documents quick and easy
- Secure storage and transmission of data
- Document tracking and version management
- Access to approved users from anywhere in the world
- Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software to scan and store paper documents
- Integration into Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software for enhanced customer service
- Streamlined workflows
- Easy collaboration from central repositories
- The use of version control to reduce the chances of document duplication
- Locating documents using identifying information such as keywords or tags
- Using links to connect related documents such as emails and attachments
- Customise control of your documents to prevent accidental changes by users.
As a digital solutions provider, Daisy actively advocates online DMS. But we are not oblivious to possible threats such as:
- Losing information through cyber attacks or insufficient security protocols
- Unstable internet connections or power outages that limit access to online documents.
Even large global companies have fallen victim to cyber-attacks, so we know that no system is entirely risk-free. However, suppose your documents are stored on a remote server accessible only to authorised users and managed by a reliable provider. In this case, they are much more secure in that location than if you store them on a local computer.
Where Do You Begin?
Most small businesses start with offline document management solutions like Microsoft Office. But as they grow and expand, they quickly realise the limitations of these tools. As we've seen, it cannot be easy to track versions of documents or to collaborate on projects when everyone is working from different locations. With the growth of remote work, this reality could pose a genuine business problem.
Here, online document management systems save the day. A good document management solution allows you to collaborate, save, and retrieve anything you need in record time. In addition, many business owners enjoy saving money by reducing paper use.
Suppose you've been thinking of ways to streamline your operations, reduce costs and enhance employee productivity. In that case, we invite you to give us a call so that we may assist with all aspects of business connectivity and other innovative solutions.