ERP software is the backbone of today’s efficient manufacturing business. Yet, while it drives next-level productivity, ERP generates a mother-load of information, which can manifest in mountains of paper.
The trick is to make sure this surge of information empowers your business, not overwhelms it. Luckily, if your ERP platform comes pre-integrated with a little-known module called document management software, you’ve got that covered.
“What?” you may be asking…
Document Management, Explained
Simply stated, document management software makes it easy to capture, find and share the critical business documents and files you need.
The software not only automatically archives files and documents, it allows you to categorize and link all types of information, both within and outside the scope of your ERP platform.
Just some of the files you can archive and link include PDFs, Word docs, Excel spreadsheets, text files, emails, PowerPoints, photos, bmp, jpg, png, gif and tif files, CAD files, audio, video and multimedia files, and more.
Designed to support electronic workflow, document management software is often looked to as a solution to help businesses “go paperless.” But perhaps more importantly, it provides a highly efficient foundation for harnessing and amplifying the power of your ERP.
Why Both Document Management AND ERP?
Why would your business need document management software when it already has an ERP system? Good question. Because lots of your information is stored in the form of unstructured documents or files that aren’t easily translated to structured ERP data.
Most ERP document management capabilities are very, very basic. They typically don’t account for—or link to—anything that is outside the scope of the ERP system.
And that means you won’t have the function and bandwidth to manage the volume, variety, and complexity of information generated in today’s businesses…kind of like having a NASCAR powered by a small lawn mower engine (with optional mulching attachment).
Instead, with pre-integrated document management software, you’ll be able to pull together all types of forms, files and documents from sources throughout your business into one searchable group—even documents that are not related to anything in your ERP (I’ll bet you wrestle with those too).
That means business-critical documents are no longer left floating in cyberspace, lost in a directory somewhere on your network, trapped in siloes or buried in paper files. Plus, you’ll be able to find important related information and contextual documents in seconds.
How Does That Work in Real Life?
Take Accounts Receivable and Payable as an example. Let’s say you are looking at files for an outsourced machine part to prepare an invoice.
Your doc management software will allow you to view vendor estimates for that part, internal approvals, purchase orders, change orders, proofs of delivery, vendor invoices, and tax information. You might also quickly view copies of paid checks, statements or vendor discount terms.
That’s just the beginning. You could also link the vendor’s proof of insurance, confidentiality agreements, work instructions, CAD drawings, material specifications, quality/inspection reports, import/export docs or shipping and freight information.
Depending on how you choose to structure your linking logic, you’ll be able to access an incredible body of needed information in seconds, even if you’re on vacation in Alaska: the latest support data for your ISO audit…a note that authorized a questioned expenditure…or the name of the technical support specialist that last serviced the machine that just went down.
Besides managing escalating waves of information, here are seven critical ways document management software will shift your ERP’s performance into hyperdrive:
- Automated Retention and Filing
With little or no effort, the software captures and archives most documents and files, so there’s no “missing holes,” no “lost documents” and complete version. Retention policies can be customized to your business needs.
- File Compression
Electronic files can be compressed to as small as 20% of their original size, making it possible to store a million or more docs in as little as 70 gigs of space.
- Find it fast – really fast
Viewers can search through millions of documents and find what they need in seconds. From their own desk. Anytime. Fast is good.
- View from anywhere
Documents filed via the software can be viewed nearly anywhere you can use your devices, using multiple browsers, including PC, Android, or Apple-based platforms.
- Robust Security Protection, Disaster (and Future) Proofing
Files can be stored independently of your ERP system, creating a central, scalable repository. You’ll be able to protect critical assets in electronic form against flood, fire, hurricanes or other disasters. Maybe not from a zombie apocalypse – but who can?
- Control Over Who Sees What (and How Much)
A robust administration system, combined with a simple workflow engine, controls who is able to view, share, link documents, add notes and/or approve files for a rule-based, paperless workflow that is easy to monitor and manage.
- Protection Against Errors & Tampering
Tight revision control—combined with bullet-proof security measures—means original docs can’t be overwritten accidentally (or on purpose). And you’ll instantly be able to identify the latest approved version.
Guest Blogger: Jim Van Hecke
BIO: On a mission to transform mountains of paper into managed streams of business information, Jim Van Hecke is partner and president of Dash Development Group, a company that designs document management software for manufacturers and distributors. The company’s software, DASH DDX™, come pre-integrated into the Workwise ERP suite. Buried alive in files, emails, and reports? Go to www.dashdev.com to send Jim an SOS from our contacts page & learn more.