File Management System
In an age where businesses are using cutting-edge technologies like big data, AI, and even blockchain to enhance different business functions like marketing, product design, and customer service, the area of document management, surprisingly, still remains untouched by technology. Businesses, who are investing thousands, if not millions, in technology to increase the efficiency of their operations, have somehow failed to recognize the impact of a good file management system on their organization’s productivity, and are missing out on saving huge amounts of time and resources.
File management system: what it is, what it isn’t
A file management system is an application that is used to store, arrange, and access files stored on a disk or other storage location. The main purpose of a file manager is to enable users to create and store new files on a device (laptop or desktop), view all the files stored on the device, and to organize files in different hierarchical arrangements, such as folders, for easy classification. The basic operations possible with a file management system include:
- Creating new files
- Displaying all stored files
- Moving files between locations
- Adding and editing basic metadata
- Sorting files based on criteria such as date modified, date created, file size, file format, etc.
A file management system provides you with a simple interface that can be used to browse through folders and access different files using dedicated applications, such as Excel for .xls, Acrobat for .pdf, and Word for .doc. The default file management system provided for the users of Microsoft Windows computers is Windows Explorer.
Windows Explorer: your default file management system
You must be familiar with Windows Explorer, which enables its users to browse through the contents of their machine’s hard drive on a single, simple window. Windows Explorer provides you with the ability to create new files, sort files according to different criteria, move files between locations, create file copies, and perform other such file management functions on files. Both, Windows Explorer and Finder for Mac machines, are quite good in satisfactorily delivering the file management needs of an average personal user. However, these default file management systems may not be ideal for business users, especially if the user deals with a large number of business documents on a daily basis. This is because, although these file management systems can differentiate between files of different formats, there’s hardly any differentiation service that they can offer beyond that.
Businesses usually deal with documents that are in the .doc, .pdf, or.xls formats. When you have thousands of files in the same format, say .pdf, a basic file management system cannot differentiate between a .pdf utility bill and a .pdf customer invoice. To ascertain the exact contents of a document, you’ll have to open files individually and read the contents. However, an advanced file management system will be able to differentiate files, based on the contents in them, no matter what their format.
Document management software: upgrading your file management system
Document management software (DMS) is a highly advanced file management system that provides a wide range of file functions and an array of helpful document management tools. DMS offers numerous ways for file indexing, allowing you to define file types and the attributes associated with those types. For instance, you can define ‘customer invoice’ as a file type with specific attributes and associated metadata. You can assign file attributes such as client name, amount due, or payment status, which can be used to identify individual invoices. Assigning such attributes enables the DMS to uniquely identify different files, even if they all have the same format, such as .pdf or .doc.
In addition to improving the searchability of files, DMS can also be used for automating document approval processes, sharing of files, and collaborative editing, among other functions. Although there is no harm in using a standard file management system, businesses can run faster and far more efficiently if they use DMS that can provide a host of added features to enhance an office’s productivity and complement an organization’s initiatives for process improvement.