How to Fully Obtain the Potential Benefits of a Digital Document Management System – A Guide to Successful Implementation
Abstract: Background Technological advancements over the last decades have resulted in an increased degree of digitalisation within as well as in between companies around the world. As a result, requirements on companies in general are growing and global competition is steadily increasing. One area for which this is highly relevant, and for which there is still a lot of potential for improvement, is industrial document management. In many industries, it has now become more or less a mandatory requirement for companies to keep transparent and comprehensive in-depth documentation on specific company processes and operations. In order for companies to comply with these requirements, they need functioning document management systems (DMSs). A company’s DMS defines its ability to create, store and manage documentation, and if utilised properly the system also helps companies assure a certain level of quality in their operations. As documentation is closely related to quality management, the DMS consequently affects the level of quality control and assurance activities within the company as well. In turn, a wellfunctioning DMS increases a company’s chances of obtaining certain forms of certification (for example ISO). The need for proper document management should not be overlooked as a well-functioning DMS enables companies to improve both effectiveness and efficiency of document management-related processes. This consequently enables improved financial as well as operational results, and thus also improves a company’s performance in general. However, in order for companies to survive in an environment in which competition is steadily escalating, optimisation is crucial. For companies to be able to achieve optimal results, increased digitisation (i.e. the implementation of a digital DMS solution) is inevitable. Purpose The purpose of the Master Thesis project is to develop a generic framework supporting the implementation of a digital DMS. The aim of the framework is to provide guidelines that facilitate the process of effectively and efficiently implementing a digital DMS, and in turn enable companies to fully obtain the potential benefits related to such a system. Research Questions The research questions that the Master Theses aims to answer are: RQ1: What are the main issues related to manual DMSs? RQ2: How does document management influence quality assurance and quality control activities? RQ3: What are the incentives for companies to develop effective and efficient DMSs? RQ4: What are the potential benefits of implementing a digital DMS? RQ5: What aspects should be considered when implementing a digital DMS? Delimitations This Master Thesis project was limited to investigating and analysing document management processes within manufacturing and service providing companies. The effects of implementing a digital system for document management, i.e. a digital DMS, have been studied and focus was set on investigating how companies can achieve a successful implementation. The Master Thesis was conducted with a generic approach, and did therefore not aim to improve nor develop any of the existing systems for document management. Furthermore, it does not either go into detail or provide complete descriptions regarding the technical features of the existing digital solutions for document management. The project was limited to conducting a single-case study at the Norwegian software company CodeIT AS (CodeIT). Any areas that are not covered are suggested for future research. Methodology The Master Thesis has been conducted with a qualitative approach since in-depth knowledge and understanding of the problem had to be obtained. Since the research questions and sources of data were not fixed in advance, a flexible research process has been used throughout the project. The research purpose is mainly descriptive and exploratory but also partially improving, since the study aims to create a framework that aims to facilitate (i.e. improve) the process of implementing a digital DMS within companies. Furthermore, the data analysis technique utilised throughout the project was Grounded Theory. This Master Thesis is based on an extensive literature review and a qualitative case study regarding the software system CodeIT eMRB at CodeIT. Empirical data was collected from the case study, which was based on a series of open and semistructured interviews with the CEO and founder of CodeIT, Bjørnar Torsnes, as well as a set of business documents from the company. The secondary data was collected from thorough review of literature on areas relevant to the subject. Conclusion The Master Thesis identified a number of issues related to nondigital DMSs. The main issues that were identified are: Difficulties with generating and processing large volumes of documents. Difficulties regarding processes for checking and validating document content Non-digital systems are prone to error Inability to create, find, access and deliver relevant information on time Complicated tracking and tracing During the project a number of incentives for developing effective and efficient DMSs were identified. Some of these incentives are presented below: Potential improvements of quality assurance and control activities. Quality Management System (QMS) improvements. Increased chances of obtaining certain forms of certification (e.g. ISO certification) as well as the related benefits. Increased supply chain transparency, which enables companies to address ethical and labour issues as well as environmental challenges. Furthermore, the Master Thesis project concluded that digitisation of paper-based processes, within the area of document management, is necessary in order for companies to be able to compete and survive as competition steadily increases. This is especially true for companies that are handling complex products. Hence, the Master Thesis identified a number of benefits related to the implementation of a digital DMS solution. Some of these are: • Elimination of time and resource consuming paperbased processes. Improved track and traceability. Ability to automate processes. Improved communication and collaboration with supply chain partners. Reduced need for ‘industrial tourism’ (i.e. the need for staff to be onsite to control, document and evaluate production). Ability to leverage more advanced technological capabilities. Lastly, the Master Thesis project resulted in the creation of a framework supporting the implementation of a digital DMS. The framework that was created consists of four phases (Pre- Installation, Installation, Post-Installation as well as Evaluation and Corrective Action) and each phase was consequently divided into a set of critical steps that companies should follow in order to assure successful implementation results.
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