Can an IDM System Really Reduce Costs?

Efficiencies won with integrated document management

More company knowledge, faster customer service, better quality work processes…these are all important competitive advantages created by using an IDM system. In challenging economic times, it’s critical to weigh the value of a document management system when a document management system is being chosen, the qualitative benefits are usually the decisive factor in the purchase decision. It is common for company management to require arguments of the economic benefits of such a system.

The savings in space costs are created by freeing up the space previously needed to store paper. With the use of an IDM solution, entire file cabinets are eliminated, and the paper that is kept at individual employee's workstations is limited to just a handful of files. The costs for filing materials – such as folders, file cabinets, binders, shelves, etc. – are virtually eliminated.         

The potential material cost savings help the document management system pay for itself. In general, one can assume that each office worker will save 30 to 90 minutes each day, by using an electronic document management system. Naturally, more specific numbers can be determined when the individual circumstances are taken into account.
The time saved for storage depends on the volume of documents filed each month is determined and broken down into the following four types:

  • Internally generated documents (e.g. invoices, delivery notes, quotations) can be filed completely automatically. This saves one to two minutes per document.
  • Unstructured electronic documents (letters, e-mail, electronic files, etc.) and although they are usually stored manually, result in much more time and expense when they are printed out and filed.
  • Structured incoming documents (invoice-ledgers, orders, etc.) can usually be stored automatically depending on the compatibilities of the solutions.
  • Unstructured incoming paper documents (letters, memos, contracts, etc.) require approximately the same amount of time for scanning and manual storage as it takes to file them in file folders.

The time saved locating documents, depends on how many times a day each employee accesses a document and how long it takes. The only way to determine this is to survey the office staff. With DocuWare, the time needed to find a document is on average 20 seconds.

Accelerated Process
IDM solutions are increasingly being used to support business activities such as invoice verification, generating quotes, or answering standard customer inquiries. The main time savings are due to the elimination of paper handling, for instance when an invoice is forwarded from the mail department to invoice verification and finally accounting, or when generating and sending copies of invoices for late payment notices. The time saved on each procedure must be determined and multiplied by the number of times it occurs to calculate the total processing time saved.
With electronic storage, simple mechanisms ensure that expanding storage capacity barely requires any effort. Structural changes at an organisation frequently involve moving employees to new locations. The expense of transporting files usually generates costs, which can be greater than the cost of installing An IDM system. In the electronic archive, employees have access to their documents from any available workstation.
Time savings alone can't reduce costs just because employees need less time to perform their work doesn't mean that profitability will increase automatically. This only occurs when time savings result in reduced staff size, reduced overtime, avoiding new hiring or increasing sales.
As with any investment, the return on investment can almost never be precisely determined in advance. There will always be certain assumptions that must be made and could later prove to be wrong. Nevertheless, the profitability of an IDM system can almost always be calculated with a high degree of accuracy.

Where Documents are safe
Some governmental agencies have been doing it right. While some organisations have been losing files in public place such as car parks at airports, others have been storing their documents in a much more reliable system storing anything from invoice ledgers to insurance claims to statistical information:
Tameside Metropolitan Borough Council uses DocuWare on a daily basis as it is linked to a Geographical Information System (GIS), necessary to oversee and manage the borough council’s commercial, industrial, and residential land and property portfolio. Once a site has been identified in the GIS, a simple click of the mouse leads to all the information pertaining to the relevant history of land transactions affecting the site.
Salford City Council uses DocuWare to store more than 200 forms, letters, and claims, a day, in order to keep track of both insurance forms and documents related to the energy section of the council.
Wyre Forest District Council has been archiving documents electronically with DocuWare for over ten years. The system is used to record incoming and outgoing post for both Council tax and business rates and also to archive all other documents pertaining to these, including direct debit mandates of which the originals are sent to the banks and recovery documents on paid cases. The amount of space saved and the ease and speed by which documents are retrieved have proven to be key advantages in the everyday work process.

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