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31 January 2023 Blog Autoform DM Banking Application ERP Solutions Document Management Information Security Privacy & Personal Data Private Sector

Are you getting the most out of your archiving solution?

Digital archiving is typically pretty far down the priority list for most businesses. Look, we get it. If you’re archiving a document, there’s a high chance you’re no longer using it on a day-to-day basis, so why should you care where it’s stored? However, in today’s digital world, where both compliance and convenience are of top priority, archiving should be regarded as a critical component of business operations.

Without the right archiving solution, or electronic document management system (EDMS) in place to centralise your files, you’re leaving yourself vulnerable to data loss, non-compliance, and ineffective business processes. You also won’t be giving the best impression of your business to suppliers and customers, who will end up continually chasing you for the documentation or data they need, if it is not easily accessible to them.

In this article, we’ll be exploring why digital archives are important, how they differ from EDMSs, and explain how Autoform DM can provide an all-in-one solution to centralising and storing your documents effectively.

What is an archive, and how does it differ from an EDMS?

Archiving is the process of securely storing inactive or historic files and information for long-term retention. By preserving documents in a stable archive, you are protecting that data from being lost or destroyed. At the same time, you are making it easy for users (such as customers or suppliers) to search for and access information as and when they need it.

There is often confusion between an archive, an EDMS, and data backup software. While these three solutions all offer a way to store, retain and protect information, they each have distinct differences. Let’s see how they compare.

An electronic document management system (EDMS) is a software system which allows users to easily store, search and retrieve all file types - including documents, video files, audio files, and more. The key difference between this and an archive is that an EDMS stores active data which is still in everyday use. This differs from an archive, which stores inactive data. An electronic document management system can hold a large volume of digital documents with the right permissions, security, and efficient document retrieval algorithms.

Data backup, on the other hand, provides a copy of your active data which can be used for operational recoveries if your existing data is lost or corrupted in some way. When a backup copy of your files is created, the original files are not affected and still remain in the same location. Data backup is also typically a short-term solution, whereas archiving allows files to be stored for many years.

Here’s the problem with your existing archive

You might be thinking ‘Well, we already have an archive’, which may well be the case. Practically every business has an archive of some description. The question is, how effective is your archive and is it delivering efficiency for both your business and your customers?

Many businesses don’t have just one archive, they have multiple archives for each system. Perhaps you have one archive for your CRM, one for your ERP, one for your emails.  Without a centralised archiving system, this makes it incredibly hard for users to search for and retrieve the right data without having to visit each of these systems individually.

It’s estimated that stored data grows five times faster than the world’s economy, so it’s crucial that you’re storing your data correctly. Here are a few things to ask yourself:

  • Do you know where your all your data is currently held?
  • If asked a question, how many different locations do you have to visit to find the answer?
  • Do you know who has access to your data / whether the right permissions are in place?
  • Are your files tagged with the right metadata so you can find them quickly if you need to?

If you are struggling to answer any of these questions, then your archive isn’t doing its job properly.

Why archiving is more important than you think

Archiving isn’t just a way to put old files to one side and forget about them. A true digital archive is crucial for streamlined business processes, regulatory and operational compliance as well as ensuring users and systems can easily access the information they need, when they need it.

Here are a few key benefits of getting the right archiving solution in place:

Compliance & regulatory purposes

As laws tighten around data protection, store conditions for unused data will become even more important. Organisations must be able to prove that their data is secure, and with the right user permissions in place.

Legislation such as GDPR and the Data Protection Act require organisations to keep archived data for certain time periods. The same legislation also requires some data to be destroyed beyond a certain point. Yet, many businesses inadvertently destroy or lose records which they are legally required to retain, and conversely retain data that they should have previously destroyed. In either case, this can lead to heavy fines or penalties. A good digital archive can make it easy for organisations to keep time sensitive documentation in a fully controlled environment.

Improved security

The number of data breaches occurring year-on-year is rising rapidly, climbing by 70% in the first quarter of 2022.  Breaches cost brands both money (the average cost of a breach rose to $4.35m in 2022) and can damage reputation.

By using the right archiving solution, businesses can easily keep track of documents throughout their lifespans and regularly update security controls to minimise risk. This includes setting access and password policies, leveraging enterprise / platform authorisation functions, and making use of audit trails to easily see who has accessed, amended, or deleted files in real-time.

Easy to find the right documents when you need them

As your organisation grows, so does the amount of data it holds. One of the main benefits of adopting a centralised archiving solution, is that you’ll have fast and pain-free access to all of your information, in one place, without having to search across multiple systems. This is especially useful if application access or licensing restrictions regularly create workflow bottlenecks around accounting, reporting or sales systems, which rely on data being actioned as quickly as possible in order to generate revenue.

The drain on resources by not using an efficient archiving system cannot be underestimated. For example, if customers have to call your contact centre to retrieve information that could be accessed via self-service, the time and cost is likely to be significant on both sides. This is also likely to negatively impact the overall customer experience. However, by using an archiving system which allows users to easily source and pull up the data they need, when they need it, you can free up valuable resources, whilst providing a smoother customer experience.

Prevents Data Loss

Without a centralised, easy-to-maintain repository to store your data, it can be easy for it to become lost or deleted. Data recovery is possible in some instances; however, this can cost both time and money. Moreover, data loss can have serious consequences for your business, employees, and customers who rely on you to keep their data on-file. A huge 93% of businesses that suffer extended data loss (for longer than 10 days), file for bankruptcy within a year.

Reduces overheads and operational costs

As you’ve already seen from the examples before, a good archive can help to reduce operational costs by increasing productivity and improving business efficiency throughout the lifecycle of your data. But these efficiencies are not just confined to user-based interactions. By leveraging the APIs in your other business systems, you can push and pull data automatically, as it is generated, received processed or updated, without the need for manual intervention at any stage. By feeding data in and out of a centralised location, you can connect previously unrelated or legacy systems together to drive additional processes or bring round the clock performance gains through greater automation.

Here’s how Autoform DM can solve your archiving problems

Autoform DM provides fast and secure access to all file types, along with automatic archiving and a powerful suite of API functions, which provide unparalleled connectivity. It also provides EDMS and archive functionality, making it a truly robust and flexible solution for your data storage needs, regardless of your company size.

Autoform DM allows you to retire disparate and messy archiving systems, by bringing all of your data into one centralised location which lets users find the right information with minimal querying.  Whether you use Autoform DM’s intuitive web front end, or you leverage its powerful API connectivity, to bring its functionality directly into your chosen ERP or business platform, you know you will always be able to get access to the information you need, when you need it.

Autoform DM offers hybrid document encryption, LDAP integration, a customisable audit trail, regular software updates, as well as being developed using ‘secure by default’ principles, to ensure that both your customer’s and your own data is always as safe as possible.

As a SaaS first product, Autoform DM further reduces your exposure to infrastructure, maintenance, and availability overheads, as we take care of practically everything for you. If you need more control or have specific operational requirements, cloud and on-premise deployments are also available, to cover almost all business cases.

To find out more about Autoform DM and how our digital archiving solution could benefit your business and book a demo, click here.

DM 10.3 is set to be released very soon, offering a whole host of exciting updates, so keep your eyes peeled! To find out more about the updates which came with the 10.2 release, click here.

Joe Ferro, Jamie Oliver