Features and Benefits of Document Management in the Cloud

This blog post originates from M-Files Blog on 1March 2012

For organizations with a limited internal server infrastructure, a hosted document management solution can add enormous capability for little or no up-front investment. Operations are simplified because an extensive IT staff is no longer necessary since server support is handled by the service provider. All expenses for storage, software, and maintenance are included in the monthly subscription fee.

Cloud-based document management solutions on the market today empower businesses to track vital documentation with a heightened level of speed and precision, and feature useful tools and capabilities designed to reduce errors and boost productivity, such as:

Protection against overwritten changes. Multiple users working on the same file can easily lead to loss of information due to overwrites and “version creep” issues. A document management structure brings common-sense features such as check-in/check-out procedures to open files from the cloud repository.
Operating system integration. Cloud deployment does not necessarily mean employees have a new application to learn. Access to cloud solutions are often integrated into existing operating systems (such as Windows) and commonly used applications (such as the Microsoft Office suite). Users open and save files in the cloud using the same commands and interfaces they’re already familiar with.

Workflow indicators. Just as authorship, date, and category attributes are embedded into each document, users can add customized metadata according to their business rules. Recurring document templates can feature simple tags that indicate their status within a workflow (e.g., “awaiting review” or “manager approved”). A simple file query instantly shows the state of work progress.

Offline access. Document management in the cloud doesn’t work without an Internet connection, right? On the contrary, many cloud-based solutions enable users with Internet accessibility issues (when traveling, for example) to view, create, edit, and store documents in offline mode, with automatic synchronization taking place once re-connected.

Automated calendar reminders and email notifications. In some hosted file management packages, subscribers can take workflow automation even further. The system can calculate due dates based on customized rules, email documents to particular employees when they reach a certain status, or automatically schedule task reminders in common calendar and project management applications.

Preservation of all previous versions. When a user saves edits to a document, the common procedure is to alter the filename (from file1.docx to file2.docx, for example). Too often this generates confusion as to which version is the latest and where it is located. With version control features, the filename remains the same through the entire process of revision. The system preserves each previous saved version, along with a full audit history of user changes.

Security of information. Many organizations feel a strong sense of security by the ability to see the physical servers their important business information resides on. The truth is that cloud-based document management systems are just as secure — if not more secure — than on-premise systems for managing files and preventing data misuse. With cloud-based systems, companies can control data visibility and hide sensitive documents while maintaining a single storage repository and automatically conducting periodic backups of all data.
In the new M-Files white paper, Document Management in the Cloud: Storing and Organizing Files and Records in a Hosted Environment, we discuss how organizations that take advantage of cloud-based document management have an enormous opportunity to improve their efficiency, productivity, and profitability.

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