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Document management systems vs digital journey platforms

Document management systems and digital journey platforms: what they have in common and where they differ | EasySend blog
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6 minutes

It’s happened to most of us at some point in our lives. We find ourselves frantically flipping through stacks of binders trying to find a form or piece of paperwork that we’re sure that we saved…somewhere. If only we could remember where. 

That scenario can and does occur on an organizational level. Managing documents effectively is a complex but critical task for any organization, and for large enterprises in particular. Documents—printed and electronic—include everything from personal information submitted by clients, legal waivers, bills and invoices, insurance claims, and even internal employee documents. Managing them is a gargantuan task, as a large organization may be dealing with tens of thousands of documents or more every year.

Processing documents manually isn’t really an option—it’s slow, error-prone, and resource-intensive. Given the slow processing pace, it also makes it difficult for companies to gain insights from the data in the documents in real time. Clunky PDFs are also not a good option. Although they are a step above paper documents, PDFs aren’t smart, and don’t enable advanced functionality. 

Luckily, like in so many other fields, technology offers better alternatives. Let’s look at the different types of technology that can help your organization optimize document management and enhance your customer digital journeys

What is a document management system (DMS)? 

One of the most common types of system used to receive, track, manage, and store documents is what’s known as a document management system, or DMS. In most cases, document management systems are digital, adding the environmental benefit of reducing paper waste. 

DMSs help your organization manage the data contained in documents at the enterprise level in an efficient and effective way and create streamlined workflows. They can also be critical for compliance in industries where documentation is highly regulated, such as medicine, insurance, and security.  

How does a DMS work? 

A DMS stores documents in a central archive, usually in the cloud, which means that they can be accessed from any location at any time. It also extracts and indexes the data from every document, as well as metadata—things like type, creation date, keywords, and description—in a database. This enables users in your organization to search documents according to a wide variety of criteria. Since users from various departments can access documents and data, customers do not need to supply the same information every time they interact with the company, which significantly improves the customer experience. 

Document management vs digital journeys | EasySend blog

What are the benefits of using a DMS for businesses and individuals 

Document management systems have many benefits including, but not limited to: 

Remote access

Since documents are usually stored on the cloud, users can access them from any location at any time. As more enterprises transfer to remote and hybrid work models, that capacity is increasingly critical. It’s also important for customers, to prevent the hassle of having to come into a physical office to sign and submit documents, or the redundancy of having to supply the same information multiple times at various physical locations. 

Enhanced security

Paper documents or documents stored in on-site computers and servers can be stolen, or destroyed in events like fires and floods. Document management systems include secure backup to ensure that documents are preserved even if there is damage to a local storage facility or server. They also usually include robust cybersecurity systems to prevent virtual attacks. 

Transparency

DMSs enable transparency as they include an audit trail for every document including who has viewed it, when and where it was accessed, and how it was modified. In large organizations where multiple people are accessing the same document, this transparency is critical for security and compliance. 

Compliance

National and state regulatory regulations like GDPR and HIPAA include strict security and privacy guidelines. A DMS makes it easier for your organization to remain compliant, even when regulations are changed or updated. Furthermore, paper or even PDF documents can’t always be accessed by people with visual impairments and other disabilities, leaving your organization susceptible to lawsuits for non-compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and other legislation designed to protect the rights of people with disabilities. A DMS can help maintain compliance with accessibility regulations. 

Ease of retrieval 

A 2018 IDC study found that the average employee spends a shocking 30% of his or her time, searching for, governing, or preparing data. Since a DMS indexes documents using metadata, they can be easily searched and located, reducing search time and freeing up your employees to invest in value-generating activities. 

Permission management

With a DMS, access permissions can be granted according to the content of the documents. For example, organizations can easily create rules that limit access to classified or restricted documents while enabling wider access to less sensitive information. 

ESG goals

ESG, or Environmental, Social, and Governance criteria are increasingly being used to evaluate companies and organizations. Paper waste is highly detrimental to the environment, and companies that generate large amounts of paper are likely to score lower on environmental criteria. 

How does a digital journey platform differ from a DMS, and what are its benefits? 

A digital journey encompasses a customer’s experience in all interactions with your company, from initial exposure to the company’s offering, through sales and acquisitions, and through to stellar customer support and engagement. Document management is one element of a digital journey, but it is far from being the only one. Document management systems can be integrated into a digital journeys to get all the benefits of DMS, but they focus on front-end customer experience, not the processing and storing of the documents in the backend.

Digital journey platforms go beyond document management. They help your organization conceptualize customer interactions at the enterprise level, and give your company a way to integrate the various customer interactions in one place rather than siloing each interaction in a separate system. They are designed to make it easier for you to manage all interactions effectively and in a way that is coherent and intuitive to the customer. 

To enhance the digital experience, a digital journey platform enhances digital experience through customer-focused features, for example, co-browsing—when an agent and customer both see the same screen, allowing them to collaborate on tasks in real time. Co-browsing eliminates back-and-forth communication and speeds up processes while providing a better experience for customers. Customers feel like the company is providing them with individual attention, which is what they expect in a digital world.

Why you need to combine effective document management and user-friendly digital journeys

In many organizations and enterprises, there is a conceptual divide between staff that has direct contact with customers and behind-the-scenes teams working in administrative or support roles. The back office and front office each have their own processes and operations, and there is very little transparency or integration between the two. That’s usually because the organization is thinking like an organization, not like a customer. 

The disconnect is not good for customer satisfaction. Although customers interact with the front office, the speed and quality of the service they receive depend on the processes in the back office. Customers don’t make the distinction between different parts of the organization—they expect a seamless, integrated, personalized experience at all touchpoints with an organization. If they can’t access the paperwork they need to receive a service, it won’t matter that the customer service rep is friendly and engaging.  

To enhance the digital experience, a digital journey platform enables functionality that isn’t offered in a DMS, for example, co-browsing—when an agent and customer both see the same screen, allowing them to collaborate on tasks in real time. Co-browsing eliminates back-and-forth communication and speeds up processes while providing a better experience for customers. Customers feel like the company is providing them with individual attention, which is what they expect in a digital world.

To create a user-friendly, customer-centric, holistic digital journey, you need to think like a customer, not like an organization. Rather than looking at document management as a distinct and separate discipline, customer-facing and back-office operations should be conceptualized as a continuous cycle, with full transparency for everyone involved. Customers differentiate service by the time taken, the administrative burden, and ease of engagement. They shouldn’t feel as if they are being shuffled between departments—all interactions should be seamless and easy.  

To stay ahead of the competition, organizations need to create great digital customer experiences. That includes streamlining backend operations with an efficient document management, as offered in a DMS, but it goes beyond that into a seamless, holistic, customer experience.  A digital journey platform like EasySend is a great place to start.

Vera Smirnoff
Vera Smirnoff

Vera Smirnoff is the demand generation manager at EasySend. She covers digital transformation in insurance and banking and the latest trends in InsurTech and digital customer experience.