Document and Records Management in the Cloud
We have all heard the term "Cloud Computing" but what is it and what benefits does it offer in the Document & Records Management Industry?
Cloud Computing is in essence the rental of software and hardware solutions that are accessed via the internet. Also known as Software as a Service (SaaS) there are a number of benefits to Cloud Computing.
Number one is usually cost. Depending on the price model used, there is often very little in the way of capital outlay when using SaaS. For example, our hosted records management system is simply charged by the amount of space used. The unit cost per GB also falls the more you use. With unlimited user access included, along with support and maintenance there are no hidden charges.
The second major benefit is that SaaS solutions are usually off the shelf products that put no additional burden on your IT department. All of the security, storage, backup, management and training is taken care of by the service provider, leaving you to reap the benefits without the headaches.
Coming in close at number three is the ability to access SaaS solutions from any computer connected to the internet. No specialist dial in or VPN systems are required allowing the flexibility of your staff to work remotely 24×7.
When it comes to Document & Records Management all of the above benefits can be realized very quickly indeed. With the recent bouts of bad weather affecting the UK, more and more people struggled to get into the office. With a hosted solution, these employees could simply work from home with access to all documentation required.
Furthermore, on a day to day basis, being able to locate the information required within seconds can cut wasted time searching for information out. Also very beneficial is the ability for more than one person to access the same file at the same time.
Additional benefits are the ability to add additional modules as and when required. For example in the document and records management sector, the ability to add workflow can increase organisational efficiencies no end. Take, for example, the Accounts Payable department. By scanning all incoming invoices (either internally or with a bureau) a workflow solution can then route the invoices to the correct person or persons for authorization. Once authorized (electronically of course) the invoice (or just the required data) arrives with the AP department ready and approved for payment. There is no longer the need to be chasing colleagues up when suppliers are chasing you, the system will notify them automatically and remind them at pre determined intervals until they required action has been taken.
When it comes to security and compliance, Document & Records Management is one of the most sensitive business areas. By placing all sensitive information in the Cloud, there is of course the concern that it will be accessed by unauthorized people. This can only be addressed by your service provider who should have taken security very seriously and will be able to demonstrate how security is achieved.
Compliance is instantly improved by placing information in a suitable solution. All actions taken are recorded and a full audit trail is created. Retention periods can be managed with ease, with automatic purging of records as required, or for the more feint hearted, automatic notification when records are ready for deletion!