Following our post about finding the right electronic document management partner to work with, we’re now turning our attention to what we believe are the most useful features within EDM. To truly take advantage of digitising the way your business accesses, secures and archives documents, you need a solution that comes with certain features as standard. Here, we list the ones that we know are most essential for our 41,000 users. The tools, functions and automations that really do save them time, money and effort.

1) Easy accessibility

The modern work environment is one in which we access information in a multitude of ways. Whether it’s from a mobile device on our way into the office, from a tablet after a client meeting or on our desktops at home or in the office.

A system that only allows you to upload and access documentation when you’re logged into a particular device at a specific network location, doesn’t reflect today’s working practices and won’t be met with enthusiasm by potential users. Instead, look for an anywhere, anytime, any device solution.

2) Instant search and retrieval

Many of our customers have come to us because they are fed up of continually searching for documents and keeping complex filing systems organised. If that’s a challenge you recognise, then it’s essential that you find an EDM solution that comes with a comprehensive search facility. The easier to use the better. We all use search engines for locating what we need on the internet, and as such, you should expect a search function in your chosen EDM system that it just as easy and thorough to use.

One that can search for what you need even if you only know fragments of the document name, or a keyword such as a client name or address that is used in the document. Thumbnail views of the retrievable documents should also be expected – as a quick visual of the front page can often be all that is needed to help you find the exact document you need.

3) Open integration

Similar to the accessibility point above, a standalone system that doesn’t integrate with the other business essential tools you have (from email to practice management) will create more work, as colleagues are asked to log in and upload files to yet another system. Make sure your chosen system integrates and automates workflow with the other tools that the potential users in your business use, to offer them clear benefits. For example, automatically saving all relevant emails into a client’s folder, so all relevant staff can see communications – even if the original sender is on leave or no longer with the business.

4) Optimum security

The benefits of easy accessibility and open integration do not need to come at the cost of security. In order to make sure that you are protecting yours and your client’s data, all data needs to be tightly encrypted as it passes through any solution that you choose. We recommend using extended validation SSL certification provided by VeriSign and encrytping files using AES-256. Check that your chosen system adheres to International Standard, ISO/TR 22957:2009.

5) Audit trails and traceability

EDM really comes into its own, when it comes to making business processes more efficient. For example if you have to share documents with a client for approval before sending them elsewhere in the business (or externally), and need to keep an audit trail of where documents are, a good EDM solution will automate the whole process for you. To facilitate this even further, we recommend intelligent portal technology. By this we mean a secure site, accessible to invited parties only, where documents can be shared for electronic signatures and approval on the go. If a document has to go to several parties for signing, it can be done remotely, rather than waiting for busy schedules to allow for everyone to be in the same place at the same time.

Find out more by downloading our guide to electronic document management.