Operational Excellence

Benefits of Cloud-Based Document Management Systems

Written By: Ray Waldron
May 20, 2024
8 min read

Project planning, tracking, and execution can require dozens of documents, and project success hinges on how you manage those documents.

Relying on paper records hidden in filing cabinets or collecting dust in a basement record room sets you up for bottlenecks. As employees copy data manually and make multiple printouts to distribute among teams, errors and duplicate documents accumulate until you have an indecipherable labyrinth of disconnected data.

Sharing documents through email or digital storage platforms does little to mitigate the risk of delays if teams need to constantly stop working to locate the most recent versions of critical records. For field teams, that extra time could mean the difference between finishing a task by the proposed deadline or informing the client of yet another setback.

A cloud document management system (DMS) addresses these challenges with a digital solution to store, organize, and control project documents. Teams can access project information, update project data, and share records with colleagues and stakeholders—all in one web-based platform.

The benefits of cloud-based document management systems (DMS)

A typical day in a business without a streamlined solution for document management bustles with employees making endless trips to copiers and filing cabinets. Calls come in from frustrated field workers who can't find the information they need to do their jobs. And remote work? It's possible, but not without interruptions to send emails or Slack messages in pursuit of project documents.

What happens if you switch to a digital document management system?

Accessibility improves

Digitizing and storing documents in one main platform eliminates inefficient Gray Work and gives all project teams 24/7 access to information. With a few clicks or a quick search, team members can locate or update essential project data and share important documents with colleagues.

Mobile accessibility allows field teams to connect to the DMS and reference project documents as they work. And because documents are always available in DMS, remote employees don't have to wait for in-house teammates to send information before they can complete project tasks.

Data syncs faster

Real-time updates prevent confusion as projects progress. Team members can easily see the latest information about:

  • Task assignments and progress

  • Client change requests

  • Document reviews and approvals

Ensuring all documents are up to date keeps projects moving and informs teams about changes in direction so they can focus their attention on the most relevant tasks.

Collaboration gets easier

Cloud-based document management systems unify document access, file sharing, and communication in a shared workspace where teams can:

  • Collaborate on projects across locations and time zones

  • Make simultaneous or asynchronous document updates

  • Leave comments or questions for colleagues regarding changes

  • Request reviews and approvals

  • Receive or submit digital signatures

Project workflows become more efficient because team members no longer need to make and distribute copies of physical documents, switch between apps to complete tasks, or hold in-person meetings to secure stakeholder consent.

Projects and teams stay on target

It's easy to lose sight of goals when project work is moving quickly and deadlines are looming, but looking back at documents like a plan, charter, or business case reminds teams what they're aiming for and helps them pull together to generate good outcomes for clients.

Access to schedule, budget, and scope information ensures tasks move according to plan and resources are allocated appropriately. Teams and supervisors can use DMS tools to quickly evaluate whether a project is on target and adjust budget and timelines if required.

You spend less on office supplies and storage

From printer paper and ink to file cabinets and storage rooms, traditional document management expenses add up fast. According to Forbes, U.S. businesses waste $8 billion every year trying to manage paper, which works out to a cost of about $20 for every document filed.

What if you use an onsite digital system instead of physical storage? Your expenses shift to IT management. As document storage needs increase, your infrastructure becomes more complex and requires more time and resources to maintain.

A web-based document management system stores documents in the cloud so you no longer need filing cabinets or on-premise servers. You can retain as many documents as needed to maintain accurate project records and easily sort through and delete older documents to keep records clean.

Document storage scales more easily

Cloud document management software scales along with your business so you don't have to worry about where to store new documents or preserve essential records. You can access more storage space or extra seats either by upgrading your subscription or purchasing add-ons.

If you do need to expand, scaling in the cloud is more efficient. Cloud-based document management systems are designed to handle growing numbers of users without downtime or performance setbacks. This flexibility allows you to take on more projects and expand your client base.

Storage and access become more secure

Document security is compromised if paper documents aren't stored securely or employees grant colleagues the wrong level of access when sharing digital files. Cloud document management systems solve these problems with security features like:

  • Access control, which can be configured to automatically assign and revoke appropriate document access levels as needed

  • Encryption to protect data at rest in stored files and in transit when documents are shared

  • System and software updates that automatically apply new security features and bug fixes

  • Digital storage that eliminates the risk of document damage from natural disasters like floods or fires

  • Disaster recovery tools to maintain multiple backups across servers and restore documents in the event of cybersecurity or infrastructure incidents

Why your business should use a cloud-based document management system

Switching to document management in the cloud applies these benefits to everyday project management. Here's what you can expect when you trade mounds of paper clutter and endless email chains for a centralized cloud solution.

Streamlined project workflows

Project efficiency depends on workflows with as few bottlenecks as possible. Cloud document management software keeps projects on track with:

  • Automation. Reduce manual work with full-text search, workflow templates, and automated document tagging. Use out-of-the-box configurations or create custom automations to support business processes like contract generation or budget management. Alerts streamline internal communication to keep stakeholders informed of next steps.

  • Document templates. Minimize the time required to create common project documents like logs, briefs, and proposals. Connect templates with automations to pull project data from other platforms and finalize documents with just a few clicks.

  • Version control. Keep detailed logs of every document version, including records of who makes changes and when. This provides a clear record of document access and updates and preserves previous variations for reference or retrieval.

Integrated business tools

An online document management system integrates with the other cloud-based solutions you use in your business, including email, bookkeeping tools, and sales and marketing platforms. Teams can reference data from these sources or automatically retrieve information to fill templates and reduce document creation time—all without leaving the DMS.

Integrations reduce the risk of data transfer errors and maintain consistent records across platforms. Accurate data and better visibility into project details prevent confusion and enable teams to deliver projects on or ahead of schedule.

Unified document control and retrieval

Sorting and locating documents in a record room or disconnected digital document management system can be a laborious manual process that takes hours. Cloud-based document management systems include tools that make document control and retrieval more efficient:

  • Document creation, editing, and review maintain visibility and control throughout the document lifecycle

  • Metadata, tagging, and search categorize documents and enable team members to locate specific information in a matter of seconds

  • Access control and sharing simplify information distribution across teams and departments

  • Automatic syncing enables real-time data updates so all stakeholders have access to the same information regardless of what device they use for access

Easier governance and compliance

DMS security and access control features reduce the risk of cyberattacks, data compromise, and data theft. This supports compliance efforts by ensuring employees can only see or modify the data and documents required to successfully fulfill their roles in a project.

Version control provides further compliance support with document access and edit histories that are easy to audit for suspicious activity. These records can serve as proof that your access control measures are in line with compliance standards. And since requests and approvals also occur in the platform, you can demonstrate that no changes were made without appropriate oversight.

A more eco-friendly office

Paper accounts for 26% of trash in landfills, and the 12.1 trillion sheets from U.S. businesses contribute a steady stream to that total every year.

Going paperless dries up your contribution and saves between 0.5 and 3.4 gallons of water per sheet, which can add up to thousands of gallons per year for an average business. Paper you don't use doesn't need to be packaged or shipped, either, so you minimize the strain on manufacturing and transportation resources as well.

Improve project outcomes with a new approach to document management

Where does your business fall on the spectrum of document management? Are you working toward a digital solution, or are employees still wading through mountains of paper to find critical project details?

Evaluate your current approach to project documents, and consider how a cloud document management system could improve efficiency and outcomes. Projects reach completion faster when team members have quick access to information, field teams can make updates from their mobile devices, and reviews and approvals don't require in-person meetings. That means you can take on more projects sooner—without worrying about how you'll manage the increased document load.

Picture of Associate Content Marketing Manager Ray Waldron set against a lochinvar background
Written By: Ray Waldron

Ray Waldron is an Associate Content Marketing Manager at Quickbase.