Document mgmt. series: Why use a document management system instead of emails

Document mgmt. series: Why use a document management system instead of emails

Why use a document management system instead of emails? This is the biggest rebuttal we hear when we tell people about document management systems. Emails are amazing; one of the greatest innovations in communication, providing a versatile system that allows you to have virtual conversations and ensures you have a written record of what has been said, they are simple and easy to use and very accessible. So why you should use a document management system and not email to send documents? There are several reasons, here are some of them: –

  • A document management system will centralise your data – This means that the document is located on a system where multiple people can access it, if you use emails for this then if the people who sent and received the document are not available you have to wait for them to become available if you want to view this document.
  • The document can get “lost” in the email trail – We use email as a communication tool, to provide updates to each other and send message updates, if we also push a document into the middle of this we run the risk of either to document or the message losing some of its gravitas. Using different systems for messaging and document management ensures we maintain focus.
  • Version control issues – Emailing a document means that you have to have to specify who your audience is going to be and sending a document over email to multiple people can lead to version control issues, especially if you have asked for comments or updates because as soon as all of the people you have emailed the document to open it, there will essentially be multiple versions of the document. Using a document management system eliminates this and ensures that documents to be collaborated on are centralised and version controlled.
  • Duplication – A big issue is resistance to change, people are simply used to using email. So even if you have a system in place some people will still use emails to send documents. This means that you are effectively using multiple systems to deal with one issue and is likely to mean that duplicated documents are in use, this can then cause issues relating to version control as described above.
  • Compliance – We will cover this in greater depth in a future post but with GDPR utilising a document management system over emails for sending documents will help you with compliance.
  • The biggest reason to not use emails for document management is that it’s not what emails should be used for! Emails are there to give and receive direct, timely, detailed information that ensures there is a record of the communication. However the average employer still receives 6 attachments per day.

We use emails a lot in our working lives with a 2015 study showing the average employee receives 122 emails per day and sends out 40. It’s estimated that we spend 30% of working week dealing with emails that equates to around 2.5 hours per day. We need to find effective ways of dealing with the information we receive and send and using a document management system is a way of achieving this. If your sole reason for composing an email is attach a document to it, then you would be much better served using a document management system.