Document Management Stinks

Every organization has a document management system. Most of them stink – robbing the business of time, space and money. Evil. But necessary.

Many still stuff paper in an ever growing farm of filing cabinets. Others use their individual email software to house and organize things electronically. Still others are saving their documents into folders on their PC or a server somewhere. For small collections of documents, these approaches are adequate. But serious problems emerge as your collection grows.

All of these approaches share some common failings. Even the electronic versions mentioned above are simply enshrining the paper-and-file-cabinet approach in electronic form (with most of its problems and limitations). Sadly, many Document Management software packages mimic those same “silos” of information, as if merely moving to an electronic form cures all ills.

These approaches have inherent limitations that either don’t address the underlying problems, and/or produce friction on the very business processes they seek to support…

1.       Lost in space: Your documents are vulnerable to loss, damage or destruction. If it was worth saving, it is certainly worth protecting. One disaster, or one wrong keystroke and its gone. Forever. How much does one lost Quote or Invoice it cost your business? How much if you lost an entire file cabinet?

2.       Limited access: These approaches are all one-dimensional in nature. When you place a paper invoice into a file drawer, it is done in one specific pre-sorted order, so you can find it later. That might be by customer name, then invoice number. This is as true of paper as it is of those electronic methods mentioned above. But what happens when you only know the Customer’s Purchase Order number? You spend a lot of time hunting. That time is not adding value to your business. Worse: its costing you precious time and money.

3.       A misfiled document is a lost document: You trust people to put your documents in the right place, and/or name them the right thing, so that you and others will be able to quickly locate the exact document they need at some point in the future. With no validation or cross-checking, this is at best a risky assumption. Putting a document in the wrong place, or naming it incorrectly means that it is, for all intents and purposes, lost. And so is any valuable information it contains.

4.       Silo storage: Each approach produces a “silo” of information – where it is accessible only in one place. With paper and email, that means 1 physical place too (ie: the file room, or the single user’s PC) – so it’s not easily shared. Even though files in a directory on a network wind up housed in folder that resemble the drawers in a cabinet – so there is only one path to locate what you need.

5.       What a waste: It wastes time, motion and space. It may be a small amount of time to file, then later find a document using these systems. But when you repeat the process hundreds or thousands of times every single day, those costs add up… and they only get bigger. And the repeated extra effort to locate documents people need is the gift that keeps on giving – over and over! Minutes turn into hours which turn into days… and so on.


I would argue that this really isn’t addressing the management of documents. It is not streamlining your business. It is simply warehousing your documents in manner that breeds inefficiency.

All of this adds up to a lot of waste and risk. And in a business sense, waste and risk stink! It is something good businesses want to avoid. A good Document Management software, like Dash DDX™ can help you avoid these pitfalls.


See the first blog entry in this series: What the heck is Document Management? And, watch for the next blog post in this series: The Cure to Document Chaos.