A look ahead at what to expect in document management in 2024

A look ahead at what to expect in document management in 2024

Innovation in the digital document management sector has been moving at pace. Expect more in 2024!


Document management: the year ahead

Robotic Process Automation Product of the Year 2023We were thrilled at Document Logistix to win the award for RPA Product of the Year together with Lemmana at the 2023 Document Manager Magazine Awards. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) facilitates data entry, extraction and document routing, and automates repetitive, rule-based tasks within workflows.

RPA therefore provides a way for organisations to improve efficiency and increase productivity.

The benefits of Robotic Process Automation

In combination with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, RPA enables organisations to optimise workflows and liberate staff to work on more strategic tasks. Commercial operations become more agile, competitive and profitable. Public sector and NFP operations save significant admin costs and can divert budgets to areas in which they further the core objectives of the organisation.

 

Document management trends 2024

 

Looking ahead to 2024 highlights

We have observed that for some time most businesses have adopted elements of digital document management. It is rare for an Accounts department to operate without digital records in AP and Payroll, in which manual processes have been greatly reduced.

Today, in order to generate the full benefits of digital transformation, companies are addressing historical work-arounds and gaps that dilute efficiency and drain resources. These consolidation efforts will inform many of the document management trends of 2024.

Terms are emerging to describe the new capabilities of document management, such as ‘knowledge management systems.’ However, in reality, developers are simply able to exploit more of the innate potential of established document-centric business systems.

1. Genuine business systems integration

Data or information silos have long been identified as a challenge to business efficiency. Poor access to up-to-date information drains staff time and frustrates customers and suppliers. While many departments have been able to address some of the issues associated with siloed data, the problem is rarely solved at a company-wide level.

Integrating document management with ERP and other business systems provides a unified view of information for authorised system users and streamlines workflows. Documents associated with specific transactions and activities, such as purchase orders, invoices, delivery notes, or complaints, can be linked and accessed easily, which facilitates better decision-making and improves process efficiency, especially for knowledge workers.

Centralising data to allow permission-based access by all departments enhances business administration, customer interaction, sales processes, and general house-keeping from maintenance schedules to fleet management.

Tighter integration between document management systems and other business systems automates data exchange, eliminates manual data entry, reduces errors, improves workflow efficiency, and empowers staff to work more productively.

2. Federated search and unstructured data

Companies that store and manage documents using more than one document management system add needless steps to the task of looking for information to conduct business.

Federated search enables enterprises to search for documents in a single location and receive results regardless of their original location.

Federated search enables enterprises not only to overcome the challenge of information silos by searching documents using a single location, but also to overcome the challenge of unstructured data held in emails, notes and customer feedback.

Document Logistix Batch Capture, for example, enables organisations to search and instantly harness all the data held in the business.

3. Artificial intelligence and machine learning

AI will play an increased role in document management from data ingestion and document routing to data retention and compliance.

AI facilitates advanced document classification and indexing, and automates otherwise time-consuming tasks. AI algorithms can analyse document content, extract key information, and assign appropriate tags and metadata, which makes document retrieval and management more accurate and efficient.

Natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning extend the capabilities of document management systems to interpret human language. The advent of intelligent search and retrieval enables users to find relevant documents instantly and effortlessly based on contextual understanding and semantic relationships.

4. Security and compliance: hardy perennials

While GDPR placed compliance in the business spotlight in 2018, data security and regulatory compliance have been, and are always uppermost in the minds of responsible board members. The questions are: how to anticipate emerging security threats; and how to minimise the high cost of compliance management?

A staple of document management solutions should be advanced access control with role-based permissions and granular access rights. Another necessary and expected safeguard is robust encryption to ensure data privacy.

Aspects of document management that are not always fully implemented are automated solutions to cater for industry-specific regulations, such as GDPR, FERPA and HIPAA.

More organisations will take advantage of comprehensive document management compliance features that include time-stamped audit trails, automated data retention policies, redaction and secure storage. Enhanced compliance features enable companies to meet regulatory requirements, avoid penalties and reputational damage, and significantly reduce the costs and disruption associated with internal and external audits.

5. Collaboration and customer portals

Staff, customers and partners are the lifeblood of any business. Close collaboration is a constant goal, and the Covid pandemic accelerated the search for ways to collaborate effectively without meeting in person.

Digital document management enables workers to collaborate on documents from any location. At the same time, managers have oversight to ensure that protocols are followed and no process bottlenecks emerge.

Email has been the most common tool used for collaborating on documents. However, email collaboration is cumbersome, for example, when tracking changes or making reference to file versions. When collaborating in a central space, confusion is far less likely.

Document management software is particularly effective in enabling teams to work on routine departmental matters, such as in Accounts, HR and Logistics. Documentation can also be shared between project managers, partners and clients via customer portals, which prove especially valuable in just-in-time sectors such as manufacturing.

Two contributing success factors, once again, are integration and centralisation that overcome the work-around nature of historical departmental and project management software that function as stand-alone systems.

6. Interface ‘nice-to-haves’ become ‘must haves’

The full potential of applications has been constrained in the past by the static user experience provided by many document management systems. The need to give system users the option to adapt the user interface to meet their business requirements has become a significant document management trend.

The promise that a system allows you to “work the way you work” is a promise that users expect system providers to keep. Typical users have a priority task list and information that they have to check on a regular basis.

Anyone buying a document management system in 2024 should expect the system to provide an intuitive, customisable user interface or dashboard that can be configured to represent the needs of individual users, the department and/or the company. Dashboards should be simple to configure to accommodate pinned frequent searches, and new and completed tasks panels, which can be used in combination with secure sharing functions.

A great year ahead for users of digital document management

The 2023 Document Manager Magazine Awards provided evidence of our sector’s continued innovation and multiple contributions to better digital business. The year ahead looks extremely positive for organisations looking to enhance business agility with smarter, faster, more accurate process management solutions.

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