What comes to your mind first when you think about businesses that have to handle a lot off paper work?
Even though we live in a digital age, more than half of businesses still rely on paper processes. The process of maintaining huge volumes of documents has become a major challenge for business organizations and educational institutions. Storing information digitally has become both a requirement and necessity for schools and other educational institutions. Today, schools have access to a wide range of methods for updating and digitizing records and paperwork as doing so enhances data security and saves cost. A document management system (DMS) is one such important process that helps convert all paper documents into electronic files. DMS which deals with creating, scanning, storing and controlling documents has become ever more important due to the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) in place. Speed, ease of access and capability to use the information, better collaboration, and data backup are all enhanced when information is made digital. Nowadays, most schools and other educational institutions are fully equipped to adopt total digitization and strengthen their technical infrastructure and for this most institutions rely on business processing outsourcing services.
Significance of Implementing DMS in Schools or Educational Settings
Schools or universities take in students and see them graduate, year in and year out. Each student generates a wide array of documents ranging from applications, admission forms, and student records of grades, attendance and behavior up through overall curriculum alignment and financial aid documents – all of which need to be processed and filed appropriately. The problem with document management systems for schools is that they are complicated or difficult to use. Right from the smallest schools to the biggest universities, people working in the educational field can become quite frustrated with the overflow of these documents. Management of documents or records when done manually can consume a whole lot of valuable time that could be otherwise spent interacting with the students, contacting parents, developing new avenues of instruction or even applying for grants to provide for the continual need for improvement of supplies, equipment, buildings and grounds in a better manner.
This is where the prominent role of a document management system (DMS) comes into the picture. The system can help free teachers and other assistants from the continuous process of filing and keeping track of documents and finding ways to communicate essential information to all members of the staff. Furthermore, many operations of the school tend to overlap. For instance, attendance will not only affect events in the classroom but also impact lunchroom management and supply location. It will also influence state and federal money allocated to the school (as do grades and yearly exam scores). In addition, the system not only makes relevant information readily available to the people who need it, but also stores the database offsite, and relieves overburdened school computer systems from storing the data generated on a daily basis in a busy school. DMS not only makes it readily accessible, but also safer from fire or vandalization than data stored onsite.
Network and student security are big concerns for many educational institutions, especially when it comes to maintaining the security of student records and other related documents containing confidential information. Some of the other benefits of a document management system include –
- Remove Data Silos – Information that is relegated to data silos can be unfavorable to an educational institution. With a good document management and workflow software in place, reintegration of this data with other core applications is possible.
- Improve Accessibility – Data that are electronically scanned and securely stored in the cloud can become accessible to all authorized parties round the clock. In addition to improving collaborative efforts and communications, this guarantees the availability of data or information in the event of loss or damage of paper documents.
- Save Time and Cost – With enhanced search capabilities and file organization, DMS can help in completion of reports, collect information for compliance auditing or locate data in half the time. The system can also increase the efficiency of school staff or office personnel by offering solutions that help streamline and automate everyday tasks and business processes thereby eliminating redundancies. With reduced documentation errors and increased communication, staff can accomplish more tasks in less time.
- Higher Transparency – As each action related to document management is correctly tracked and recorded, data security is ensured. Users are required to enter a unique pass code to access information, which is then logged by date, time and activity.
- Eliminate Redundancy – Integration into existing software applications helps to remove redundant steps and streamline work processes.
- Manage Deadlines – Missed deadlines can cost time, money and clients. With a document management system in place, tasks remain more organized.
Key Components of a Document Management System (DMS)
Although the whole process of document management for schools may at times be different from other businesses, they may still involve the same components of data storage and document management. Here are some key components of DMS–
- Document Metadata – In simple terms, metadata can be defined as information about the information. Metadata will be stored for each document and may typically include – the date the document is stored and the identity of the person or user storing it. For instance, for a school, it may include the department that generated it, the name of the individual who recorded it, date and cross–referencing to other departments that may need that piece of information. The DMS can extract metadata from the document automatically. On the other hand, certain document systems use optical character recognition on scanned images or perform text extraction on electronic documents. The extracted text can assist users in locating documents by identifying probable keywords or for providing full text search capability.
- Document Capture – Typically, capture involves accepting and processing images of paper documents from scanners or multi-function printers. Optical character recognition (OCR) is often used to convert digital images into readable or even editable text, making it easy to mix and match with computer-generated files that are being added to the system.
- Document Security – A vital component in many document management applications, compliance requirements of certain documents can be quite challenging, which may again depend on the type of documents handled. Schools and educational institutions handle different types of confidential records. In fact, all student records are considered confidential. Therefore, the document management system used must involve military grade security encryption.
- Document Accessibility and Retrieval – While being held securely, the data or files needs to be easily accessible and retrievable. A data system is only useful when it is possible to obtain essential information in a convenient and timely manner. In addition to accessibility, document retrieval needs to be also quick and easy. For instance, in a school when a parent calls with a question on a statement for a student fee payment, the office staff needs to be able to retrieve the same in a snap. DMS gives you the search features to be able to retrieve a document on any keyword search due to indexing. Using the right index keys ensures that the correct document can be retrieved.
- Document Versioning – This is a process wherein documents are checked in and out of the document management system. This process will allow users to easily retrieve previous versions of the data and continue work from a selected point. This is of immense benefit when dealing with documents that will have input from multiple users. For educational institutions, versioning is of immense benefit as school offices often deal with multiple documents that change over time and require regular updating, but at the same time require referring the previous copy of data.
There is increased pressure on educational institutions like schools and universities to effectively manage documents that are being produced at a rate exponentially larger than ever before. Implementing a document management system can benefit educational institutions in a number of ways which are mentioned above. The best way for educational institutions to eliminate paper clutter is by partnering with an experienced document or data conversion company that helps digitize files. Using document management software can help these institutions to maintain accuracy and security of data, accelerate workflow and enable efficient storage and quick retrieval of documents.