Comparing DocStar to Free Storage Services

When organizations are considering migrating to a paperless office they often ask, “why is a paid ECM solution better than the free ones I see online?” It’s a valid question, after all, there are plenty of free file sharing and storing solutions available with enticing features (and of course, an enticing price tag).

In order to understand why free storage solutions may not be an effective content management strategy for your organization, it’s important to understand the differences between free storage and ECM.

But it’s not a viable long-term solution for your organization, and what you may save in upfront costs you may wind up losing down the road in operating expenses, often without even realizing it. So, why should your organization utilize a robust ECM solution vs. a free storage one?

You get what you pay for

DropBox, Google Drive, Box, and a wealth of other storage solutions draw you in with their “free” price tag and seemingly limitless possibilities. These cloud-based solutions are excellent for storing simple text-based documents and collaborating and sharing. Unfortunately, you have a limit to how much you can store, and with little sorting and organization beyond basic filing, keeping track of multiple documents can get overwhelming.

You may not be able to organize and track the information from these documents in the way your organization requires. If you’re utilizing a free service to manage your AP/AR documentation, you won’t be able to search the document content itself for specific information such as date, purchase order number, or vendor attached to it. So while yes, this solution will eliminate paper from your PO workflow, it won’t alleviate any of the frustration associated with managing hundreds, if not thousands, unique files.

All of these solutions require you to store your documents in their cloud, which could be a security concern for organizations that need to keep everything on-premise or in a more secure cloud environment. These solutions offer little security for sharing these files as well, so when sharing confidential information you may put your organization at risk.

At the end of the day, these online storage solutions offer just that, storage. While many organizations certainly benefit from these products and features for certain documents, it’s often not the best solution for sensitive financial, employee, or other important business documents.

Why ECM is different

Where these solutions fall short, DocStar thrives. ECM provides more than simply a digital filing cabinet, it provides a more efficient workflow for your documents. Features such as Smart OCR capture can pull information from your scanned and uploaded documents, allowing you to search by the document’s content vs. just its name. This means you can quickly find the exact document you need just by searching for a specific field.

A smarter ECM solution means you can store your records on your terms, either on-premise at your location or in a secure cloud environment. Having options means that you can determine what would work best for your organization’s needs rather than simply be forced one way or another based on what the servicer requires.

While an ECM solution may require upfront and maintenance costs, you’ll quickly find yourself saving more than you spent. With proper implementation and maintenance, your organization will save money, time, and work.

The next step

Once you fully understand the scope of your organization’s needs, having a conversation with our team of experts to understand further how DocStar ECM can help your organization across all departments.

Give us a call at 770.452.7373 to learn more.

DocStar Advanced Workflows Overview

Many organizations believe that just by storing their records in a document management system they’ve done enough to improve their processes. Savvy organizations know that the next step to further streamline their day-to-day processes is by utilizing advanced workflows. Like most effective processes, workflows are specific to the organization using them, and you may be unsure of how they work and the difference between Basic and Advanced Workflows.

What exactly is a workflow? It’s the sequence of industrial, administrative, or other processes through which a piece of work passes from initiation to completion. Some of these workflows are relatively straightforward, like making a chocolate cake (the tastiest type of workflow) while others may be far more complex, like building a skyscraper.

Within document management, some sample workflows might be requesting approval, PO requisition, or onboarding.

Workflows are incredibly important, they help provide transparency within key processes, and allow you to identify any potential red flags. Also, like a recipe, it moves along processes so you can get to a successful end result.

By creating workflows then using Reportworks to review them, you can ensure that the processes you work to build are successful.

What is the difference between Basic Workflow and Advanced Workflow?

The basic workflow is described as single steps with sequential actions. The easiest example of this is a recipe, each step leads to the next and even though you started with just a few ingredients, you wind up with a great finished (and hopefully delicious) product! In DocStar, standard workflow is included in the base product. Known as a 2-step workflow, it relies on if/then logic then stops. 2-Step workflows are full-featured but limit administrators to only one step with no branching.

Advanced Workflow is 3 step (or more!) workflow that relies on if/then/else logic, that’s when you can really streamline a process. It adds in things such as conditional logic and chaining of multiple workflows to allow complex processing and routing. This would be like if you were making a recipe and depending on what ingredients you added it would go to a different step, but end up even more delicious!

How can workflows be utilized?

While there’s a place for a custom workflow, whether it be Basic or Advanced, in just about any part of your business, our most common use cases are within accounting and finance.

An example of an Advanced Workflow would be in scenarios within Accounts Payable approvals where different approvers would be notified based on the department making the request. Utilizing branch conditions within Advanced Workflow means the right approvals go to the right people at the right time. Additionally, multi-step advanced workflow can be seen in situations where a workflow needs to search and compare a value on an invoice (such as PO number) to an existing PO in Docstar with a matching value and determine if the total amount of the invoice matches the total amount of the PO. If the totals don’t match, you can easily be notified and work towards getting that rectified quickly, having spent little-to-no manual work on catching the error.

Additional ways advanced workflow can vastly improve your document management process include multi-level approval routing exception reports, matching, mathematical equations to capture options like OCR, barcode, separation, and image enhancement. But with advanced workflow, the possibilities are practically endless.

How Mosaic fits in

As an automation solution provider, we typically see clients who start out using ECM for just record storage then progress into advanced workflows and added products to improve their efficiency. After implementing advanced workflows, they quickly see a transformation in how they process key documents. Mosaic Paperless Solutions has knowledge in creating custom workflows for clients, and we’d love to show you how your organization could directly benefit from them.

Give us a call at 1-800-387-7859 to learn more.

Comparing Sharepoint to an ECM

Often one of the biggest questions we get from potential and current customers is what’s the difference between Microsoft Sharepoint and an ECM? On the surface, the two seem similar, and their overlapping features may make deciding between the two of them a difficult task.

While there is some overlap in the features of the two applications, their core functionality, and benefit to your business, is very different. Fortunately, you don’t have to decipher the differences on your own. We’ve put together some of the key features and will compare and contrast the two platforms.

To put it simply, companies who are looking to improve processes, reduce the usage of paper, and perform enhanced imaging functions – SharePoint is not the correct solution for you. However, if you’re simply wanting a collaborative site, where people can share ideas, notes and some electronic documents in their native format, SharePoint may be a good fit.

Microsoft SharePoint positions itself as an all-in-one solution for team sharing and content templates for any business scenario, and for some organizations, it can be effective. SharePoint has been growing consistently at 25% annually in the past 17 years it’s been on the market. It boasts solutions such as team file sharing, customization options, approval processes, and other transformative features. At a relatively low cost, it’s enticing for many organizations who are in need of a way to collaborate, host and approve files, and develop a workflow within their business processes. Unfortunately, many organizations realize quickly that SharePoint is technologically intensive, and if they’re switching from paper-based to SharePoint, their employee’s learning curve can be incredibly frustrating. So, why should your organization use an ECM solution instead of SharePoint?

One of SharePoint’s downfalls is that it’s promoted as a turnkey solution for all types of organizations. Not only is it difficult to implement, but the solutions themselves are not industry specific. A legal team is using the same tools as a manufacturer, and while they may certainly need similar solutions, it’s unlikely that SharePoint’s functionality can work perfectly for both of them without intensive customization. That customization is nearly impossible for someone without an IT background, and can quickly become costly to implement.

There are also security concerns. There are no feature access permissions and for IT professionals configuring the system it can be a technical nightmare. While yes, it’s more protected than Google Drive or DropBox, it still has gaps in security which can be detrimental if your organization hosts sensitive information. An ECM system has security features in place from the first day of use to ensure information will not be vulnerable when sharing it with employees, customers, or vendors. By providing granular permission settings, a secure central repository, compliant audit trails, redaction and annotation support, redundant backup using secure 2056 bit encryption, and single sign, you can feel confident about hosting your information within your ECM solution.

Many users believe that SharePoint is free or is included with their Microsoft 360 subscription. While true to an extent (it does come free via download or with Windows Server software operating systems), the main interfacing component for end users is a paid service. The paid features start at $5/month per user but that doesn’t include any customization or support. SharePoint can quickly get expensive, and oftentimes the clear cost is never laid out. While on paper, a more sophisticated ECM solution may seem like a larger investment, what you save in time and frustration, coupled with a clear understanding of costs from the beginning, will be well worth it.

Organizations also aim to use Sharepoint to create custom web forms, which can prove to be difficult and time-consuming. Moreover, these forms may lack specific features, only allowing for basic fields and attachments. These forms are fine for simple information-gathering, but organizations looking to create forms for specific HR processes will find these forms won’t fit their needs in the long-term.

One of the main reasons organizations choose SharePoint is because of its association with its parent company, Microsoft. Since many organizations already use Microsoft Dynamics, Dynamics NAV, GP, or SQL Server, it seems like a natural fit to use SharePoint. What many of them don’t realize is that more robust ECM solutions also integrate just as well, if not better, with their existing ERP, HRIS, ArcGIS and other business applications, allowing you to import your documents and data in one step while storing them in the central repository.

When given the choice between SharePoint and an ECM solution, it may seem like SharePoint is the better option, simply because of its cost and functionality. But when you closely examine SharePoint and compare it to an ECM, it doesn’t even come close to the benefits an ECM will provide.

Want to learn more about an ECM solution that will work for your organization? Give us a call at 1-800-387-7859.

Understanding the Legality of Scanned Documents

Many organizations who are considering a document management solution aren’t entirely sure if the documents they scan and store in their ECM are going to be legally admissible or compliant. Oftentimes, rather than seek out a more effective storage solution, they let piles of paperwork build up by holding on to documents longer than necessary.

Typically physically storing important records in filing cabinets or closets puts them more at risk for being stolen, destroyed, or lost than digital record keeping.

But before moving all your records into digital storage, it’s important to understand the legalities of the process. What are the rules of records management, and most importantly, are scanned documents legally accepted?

What are the laws?

In the United States, there are two laws that clearly establish if digitally scanned documents managed on an ECM are admissible in court:

1. The Uniform Photographic Copies of Business and Public Records as Evidence Act (UPA) (US 1128‐0020‐00) ‐ Enacted by almost all states, it specifies that reproductions of records have the same legal significance as the original and may be used in place of the original for all purposes including evidence.

What does this mean? In short, it means that copies, microfilm, and other reproductions, documents are the same as physical documents and are just as legally valid.

2. The Uniform Rules of Evidence (US 128‐0060‐00 to 0170‐00) ‐ the other major uniform law, “The Uniform Rules of Evidence“, has been adopted by the United States federal courts and 34 states. The Rules of Evidence allow a duplicate to be admissible in evidence “to the same extent as an original” and defines a duplicate as a counterpart produced by any technique “which accurately reproduces the original.”

What does this mean? It means that as long as your digital duplicates are the same as the original (which with the proper processes and procedures they would be), you can utilize them in U.S. Federal Courts and the majority of state courts.

Both laws state that duplicate records may be admitted into evidence if they accurately reproduce the original. Because document imaging technology is a duplication technology similar to physical reproduction methods such as photocopies, microfilm, and facsimile, digitally stored documents fit within these regulations.

What classifies as a reproduction?

The most widely‐used reproduction techniques, including photocopy, microfilm, facsimile, and document imaging all exhibit the same characteristics:

Image Capture

A photographic, scanning, or another process that identifies and captures the image of the original document.

Image Manipulation

A photographic, electronic, photostatic, or another process that transforms the captured image into a format for storing and reproducing the image.

Visible Reproduction

A photographic, photostatic, printing, or another process that converts the manipulated image into visible form. A document imaging system, for example, utilizes an electronic scanner for image recognition, computer software, memory and optical disk storage for image manipulation, and graphic terminals and laser printers to make the image visible.

A document imaging system is similar to other reproduction technologies, it utilizes an electronic scanner for image recognition; computer software, memory and optical disk storage for image manipulation, and graphic terminals and laser printers to make the image visible.

As long as it’s correctly done, courts have upheld that imaging and scanning are just as legally binding as paper documents.

Regardless of how you store your documents, audit trails are recommended in order to prove that a transaction was properly processed by the organization. With an audit trail, you can instantly know every time an electronic document has been viewed or manipulated. They help ensure document integrity and prove that the image is a true representation of the original ‐ reducing exposure to risk. Mosaic’s solutions allow for the easy creation of audit trails and

In Conclusion

In the United States, records made from a document imaging system will be admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original record, as long as the document imaging records accurately reproduce the original. If that standard has been met, an organization can feel secure in destroying the original records and relying on digital records as evidence.

Similarly, records required by government agencies can be maintained in document imaging systems. Whenever the government agency requests information, the organization would prepare duplicates from the document imaging system. The government agency may require that original records be kept or that your document imaging system meet certain standards.

Government agencies in the United States may also use document imaging systems to manage and retrieve information. Original short‐term paper records could be destroyed after the images have accurately been preserved in a document imaging system. Since document imaging records are not archival, long‐term (retention over 10 years) or permanent records must generally be maintained in either paper or archival microfilm form. It is not expected that state and federal archives will permit the destruction of long‐term paper records after scanning into a document imaging system, even when document imaging are certified for archival purposes.

Understanding DocStar Reportworks

Day-to-day, many of your workflows stay relatively consistent. While they may seem like they’re working “well enough,” it’s possible there are gaps you may be missing.

How does an organization identify those gaps and fix them? The first step is gaining a deeper understanding of your current workflow.

This first step is crucial in ensuring that your workflows are working for your organization. By reviewing how effective your workflow is you can quickly identify what’s working and what’s not, and then take the steps necessary to fix it.

This task may sound daunting, but if you’re already utilizing DocStar to help manage your record storage and other processes, you already have the tools required to effectively visualize your workflows.

With ReportWorks you can utilize an interactive display designed to make visualizing bottlenecks in your operations easier. It allows you to quickly analyze system-wide metrics to get an overview of how your workflows are doing as a whole.

ReportWorks empowers you to address any issues it discovers. And just like your DocStar ECM, it integrates seamlessly with other common business applications and technologies, complementing your existing approach rather than just complicating it.

Where can you use ReportWorks?

Accounts Payable:

See the approval status of any invoice, if they’re waiting on approval, and who needs to approve it. This can help speed up your current AP process and help your organization make payments more efficiently.

DOT Records:

Many organizations rely on trucks, construction equipment, or other vehicles to keep your business running daily. With ReportWorks you can quickly review what needs servicing or replacement, meaning you won’t be surprised by any repairs.

Human Resources:

Managing your employees’ certificates, licensing, medical cards, and other crucial items can be a difficult and time-consuming process. With ReportWorks you can be notified when these key documents are up for renewal. Receive automatic updates via email when employees are due for a review.

Contract Management:

Contracts are another type of document that when not managed actively can quickly become a much bigger problem. In ReportWorks you can quickly see any contracts that are about to expire so you can take action before it becomes an issue.

Audit Reports:

Compliance is important for any organization, and audit reporting is a key part of that. Audit reporting in ReportWorks allows you to see what users or groups are active and access rights to specific levels in your security classes.

Document Level Auditing:

Feel confident in your compliance by gaining an overview of what documents, content types, and workflows are assigned to specific security classes.

Customization:

We know not all organizations are the same, so it’s important to allow for the ability to build custom reports from searchable parameters on any document or metadata stored within the DocStar system.

Automatic Emailing:

Another feature of ReportWorks is the ability to have your report automatically emailed to anyone on a custom schedule (ie. hourly, daily, monthly) in a custom format (ie. PDF, Excel, or Word).

Once your workflow gaps are identified, utilizing DocStar ReportWorks for the processes mentioned (and countless others) can help fill those gaps and ensure that your organization continues to succeed.

ReportWorks can help benefit your automation process, and once you become a pro you can utilize it across your organization. Need help learning ReportWorks? Call  1-800-387-7859 to schedule training.

Automating Quality Control

Compliance is important for any organization but within quality control, it’s especially crucial. Documents that need to be shared with state, federal, and third party agencies must be stored and maintained securely to ensure compliance. By heavily relying on paper-intensive processes for those documents, you put your organization at risk of non-compliance. Beyond that, paper processes are significantly more time consuming than their digital counterparts.  

Why automate?

In traditional processes, documents and paperwork get shifted around from person to person, department to department, with no real way to keep track of them. Key quality control documents including ECN (engineering change notice), SOPs and Inspection Reports can easily be misplaced or deleted, leaving your organization vulnerable.

Leveraging digital document storage and automation, companies can reduce manual routing, and take control of parts of the process such as revision control, automatic assignment of tasks to fulfill a change order process and ensure all steps for compliance were followed. Additionally, to ensure CFR Part 11 compliance documents are securely stored in a document management system to prove intent, and structure process.

Depending on your industry, you may be required to maintain records of all quality documents for years, even decades. If you are producing or distributing at a high rate, the paperwork builds up quickly. Rather than have stacks of papers within filing cabinets (that are susceptible to fire or flood), upgrading to a digital repository can help save you space as well as time spent searching for records.

By automating your process and managing your documents digitally, you’ll always know where they are and who they’re with, ensuring that you uphold company, industry, and federal standards.

What are some other benefits of Quality Control Automation?

  • Capture, store, distribute, and track production and control record, and link certifications and licenses.
  • Automate tasks for sales order processing
  • Pre-define documentation requirements, approval steps, and due dates, making each document that goes into your system easier to manage.
  • Create collaborative workflows that include alerts, approvals, reporting, and annotation, and distribute documents for approvals in just a few steps.
  • Utilize intelligent data capture and document indexing to make your records easily searchable.
  • Integrate with your existing EQMS, BOM, and ERP Systems

How does automation work?

In simple terms, it’s streamlining the process of collecting, capturing and storing engineering, production and quality control documents while maintaining regulatory compliance.

With automation, all of your files can be quickly captured, processed and securely stored in a central document repository allowing authorized employees to instantly search and retrieve them. Related documents can be linked providing instant access from other related documents. Tasks are routed through workflow according to your defined business rules, user roles, and access rights. All of the steps in your processes can be automated to reduce dependence on time-intensive manual entry and approval processes. A secure web-based interface provides access to documents from anywhere in the world, at any time.

How to get started

Automation can seem like a heavy lift, especially if you don’t know where to start.  Mosaic can help you get the tools you need and assist in building the systems and workflows required for total quality control automation.

Give us a call at 1-800-387-7859 to take the first step!

Important Attributes of ECM You Need to Know

Organizations of all types have become increasingly more aware of the consequences of not having a records retention policy and procedure in place, but many have not taken any action to correct their outdated process. Even in just the past 10 years, the landscape of records management has changed. What was once accomplished by some well-organized filing cabinets and diligent employees now must be actively maintained by excess labor or entire departments, taking up office space and employee time.  Beyond just being a hassle, and outdated content management system can have negative implications such as civil and criminal penalties for noncompliance, as well as the growing costs. These trends across organizations have caught the attention of C-level employees. Learn more about how Enterprise Content Management (ECM) can benefit your organization, as well as the traits to look for in an ECM system. 

How important is ECM?

Record-keeping activities impact an organization beyond just records managers, AP clerks, and finance executives.  The broad definition of records management requires that every employee at every level be responsible for following retention requirements. No department is immune.

Many managers don’t fully realize that their records consist of every scrap of paper and electronic documents, from faxes and invoices, to hiring and onboarding documents, to voicemails, emails and database reports. Organizations are disjointed with their storage, keeping important records in boxes beneath desks, filing cabinets in unused closets, and flash drives tossed in a drawer. This leads to missing files, incorrect information, or worst case, compliance issues.

Many organizations believe that using a free online document storage system, email archives, and physical off-site storage facilities are enough, but these systems aren’t secure, and the costs can add up.

How do you protect your organization while saving employees’ time and resources? Enterprise Content Management. 

Not just any ECM, but a feature-rich, user-friendly platform that’s designed to make content management much simpler.

What are some important features to look for?

1.  Advanced capture features that allow for the import of paper and electronic records in any format from any source. Regardless of the form of the record, the system should capture it at the earliest point of entry without additional steps.  Importing via scanner, fax, and print features are critical. The ability to store emails as well as attachments is a key difference of having a holistic ECM solution and not just a digital filing cabinet.

2.  Real-time indexing and data capture (including capturing metadata) that allows a broad array of information to be retained for searching

3.  Secure user access controls that prevent unauthorized viewing, alteration, and deletion of documents

4. Sophisticated search capabilities that allow users to combine powerful boolean searches, metadata searches, full-text searches

5. Automatic assignment of record retention schedule based on record types

6. Identification of the final disposition date

7. The ability to place records on hold for litigation purposes

8. Audit trails for records

9. Disposal management mechanism to make retention much easier and keep you compliant

10. Export and Transfer mechanisms 

11. Back-up system to protect against accidental loss

When looking to implement an ECM, make sure you inquire about these important features. Top ECM providers will be able to further explain how their solution offers and utilizes them, and will be happy to help to train you on using them once your system is implemented. Mosaic Paperless Solutions is a perfect example of an organization that offers these features within the DocStar ECM product they sell alongside the know-how to help you utilize them.

Call 770.452.7373 to get more information about their ECM offerings!

Focus on the Environment by Becoming Paperless

Many organizations are shifting their focus to become more environmentally conscious and improve their corporate social responsibility (CSR), and there are plenty of undeniable benefits to it. Whether you are working to continuously improve your company image, are looking for 3rd party certification, or even if you’re simply trying to showcase your company values, you can work to become more environmentally conscious by reducing (or eliminating!) your company’s reliance on paper.

The average office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper a year, 45% of that paper ends up being thrown out each day. Even if your organization only has 50 employees, that’s still 225,000 sheets being thrown out annually or 11,250 lbs. of paper (nearly the weight of 3 cars!). You may not consider your organization to be “green” but it’s still important to consider your environmental impact, as well as the additional benefits to reducing your paper usage.

Many organizations don’t put reduce their negative environmental impact at the top of their priorities. But even if the environment is not a key focus, reducing paper usage can still benefit your bottom line. By going green, you can easily save some green. Businesses annually spend about $1,367 per employee annually on printing supplies alone. By becoming paperless you can easily offset a good portion of that cost, as well as the cost incurred from loss of productivity from searching for or correcting files.

How can your organization go paperless?

  • If there are certain things you must print, consider doing it on the backside of recycled paper (as long as it doesn’t have confidential information). By doing this you’ll reduce the amount of paper you throw away, and save money by not needing to buy nearly as many sheets.
  • If there are invoices, purchase orders, or other forms that need approval from different managers company-wide, utilize an enterprise content management (ECM) system to share, markup, and approve any important documents. Paper-heavy departments such as accounting and human resources can directly benefit from an innovative ECM. 
  • Utilize web forms to complete commonly used forms rather than print out multiples of the same form
  • Rather than throw away unused paper, look to see if your city has a single stream recycling program you can participate in. If there are pages with sensitive information that you aren’t sure about, you can invest in a paper shredder or find a local shredding day to be able to utilize an industrial shredder.
  • Keep all your employee records on a digital database. Instead of taking up space with full filing cabinets, scan your current records into an ECM. For future employees consider utilizing online forms to complete new hire paperwork, including benefit elections, i4’s, W-9’s, and direct deposit.

These are just a few of the ways your organization can work to become paperless, and often once you move forward with one method, the others aren’t so far behind! By starting off your process to become greener with ECM, you can often snowball your environmental impact and immediately notice the benefits of utilizing a smart digital storage solution. The team at Mosaic can help you learn more about how your individual organization can directly benefit from DocStar ECM. Learn more by contacting us.

By taking small steps to reduce your reliance on paper, your organization can save money while doing good for the environment!