Monday, August 19, 2013

How can I create digital documents that stay digital?

These days, most of the documents that we produce are born in a digital format. We don’t hand-write letters anymore, to say nothing of invoices or receipts. We use our computers to process almost all of the documents that we work with. Problem is, even if documents are created in a digital format, that doesn’t mean that they’ll stay that way.

Here’s an example: Yesterday, we placed an order for some corporate materials. They sent me the proposal via e-mail, but then asked me to send back a signed and sealed copy, just like in the old days. That meant that we had to print the document, put our company stamp on it, sign it, go back to digitizing it, and – finally! – send it by e-mail.

That doesn’t just happen with documents, however. Internal correspondence is sent on paper throughout organizations, invoices are still sent on paper, etc.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll describe some of the tools that our document management systems or ecm applications contain, thanks to which it’s possible to guarantee that if a document is created in digital format, it’s going to stay that way:

  • Integration with digital signatures: If the proposal, for example, had been signed with a signature in digital format, we would have saved ourselves the need to print and scan the document. 
  • Work flows: In the case of internal correspondence, for example, these can be sent using a simple work flow. They also allow us to generate e-mail notifications which warn us about what’s happening with the document and, in the history of the document, we can see if the correspondence has been looked at by that by the people we wanted to send it to. 
  • Integration with office software suites: One good way of avoiding unnecessary printing or mailings of documents by e-mail is to make use of integrations with office software packages like Microsoft Office or Open Office. That way, users can create documents from a program like Word and, when they save it, they save it directly to the document manager. From then on, the document is only shared with other users by using a link to the original document, without having to download it or send it by e-mail.

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