A tool for smart governance

With capturing and storage costs so low, widespread adoption of DMS can cut down processing times and boost efficiencies

By egov Team

The volume of unstructured content has significantly risen over the years and continues to do so. This has prompted the need to look beyond traditional content management systems (CMS), which focussed largely on structured content.

Inception of Document Management System (DMS) in 1980s provided a great hope for efficient, effective and transparent document management for organisations and institutions.

Today’s DMS solutions are capable of handling both structured and unstructured content and are being widely used to track and store paper documents in government organisations as well.

DMS is also viewed as a component of enterprise content management (ECM) systems and is related to digital asset management, document imaging, workflow and records management systems. The proliferation of smart phones among business users and citizens has further raised the potential of DMS proliferation in the e-Governance space. Over the coming years, cloud-based DMS applications are expected to evolve to fulfil diverse needs of citizens over the mobile devices.

Initially, DMS was developed to manage proprietary file formats or some specific formats. However, in the past decade, the general transition to electronic management of documents has been very rapid, which has driven the growth of DMS solutions for various file formats.

Growing appetite for DMS

The need for DMS can be gauged by a study finding, which showed that unstructured data is growing at a rate of 65 percent and will continue to grow at similar rates in the years ahead. The content management software market in the Asia-Pacific region, according to IDC estimates, will be worth $362 million by 2012. Another estimate, on DMS market prospects in India, puts it at $75 million for 2012. The adoption of DMS by many of the government departments has had a positive response, though it is just a beginning.

According to IDC, executives spend 45 percent of their time working with documents. About 610 billion e-mails are sent each year, out of which about half are printed. More than 7.5 billion new documents are created in an office, resulting in more than one trillion pages each year. Managing such large volumes of data is one of the top priorities of organisations today. Also, high volumes of physical records lead to a large number of problems including irregularities, loss of data and duplication.

DMS and managed printing are two solutions that are being adopted by many organisations. India presents a huge growth opportunity for document management services as large businesses continue to use paper and traditional means of storage and there is an increased need for automation.

IDC predicts that enterprises will spend 10 percent of their revenues on document products, management and distribution. According to the research agency, while the printing, copying and scanning industry is close to around `1,500 crore, DMS with 10 percent of the pie stands at `150 crore.

Advanced file approval, management, tracking and intelligent search capabilities are expected to help the government functioning

IDC estimates Asia-Pacific content management software market to touch

by 2012

Adoption in govt sector

All government departments are digitising their documents. Due to compliance requirements telecom, insurance, banking, pharmaceuticals and other verticals will slowly move towards complete digitisation of their backlog documents and ongoing activities. Digitisation will also be a must for many industries, especially in areas like health insurance claims and loan processing, to bring in efficiencies and cost benefits. Hospitals are also looking to digitise patient records for compliance, legal and service requirements.

Other aspects driving the DMS market are automation, virtualisation and integration. The need to share information and documents with globally dispersed teams, and to improve collaboration and enhance the effectiveness of various organisational functions is fuelling DMS growth globally.

e-Governance projects in India have also contributed to the growth of DMS. Advanced file approval, management, tracking and intelligent search system is expected to help the government function in an efficient manner. No wonder, governments and various departments are looking at DMS to manage and store documents for facilitating transparent, efficient and seamless governance. In times to come, DMS will become the basic infrastructure on which all efficient and transparent G2C services will be running. DMS will act as a trusted system of records with controlled access to content to support regulatory compliance and business continuity.

In Haryana, e-Disha implementation is aimed at providing citizen-centric services to the common man to ensure less paper based work by using document management solutions. As more and more government services become online, e-records will be used to maintain huge data volumes for various services like confirmation of pensions and other entitlements, registration of births and deaths, verification of citizenship, certification of voting rights, and collection of taxes and censuses. Other application areas include financial management and audits to help resolve land claims and litigations, documenting of intergovernmental agreements, economic planning, document development and countless other information-intensive activities.

In 2005, the Department of Science & Technology, Government of Gujarat, initiated Integrated Workflow and Document Management System (IWDMS) in order to provide better services to citizens. With the help of IWDMS, a central numbering system for all correspondence and files is provided to make them traceable. IWDMS and ICT have helped governments across various states to ensure an accountable, transparent and effective administration and at the same time increase efficiency by moving towards a more paperless office. It has also helped in enabling a robust decision support system.

The vast expanse and differential stages of democratisation in India makes application of electronic document management system ideal tool for allowing people in remote and infrastructure-wise challenged places to access services and information.

Looking ahead

Government bodies would want to bring more types of content, which are being generated today, under the purview of DMS. As the cost of storage keeps reducing, while the need for regulatory compliance increases, the barrier to store this content will keep shrinking. However, the real challenge is going to be in automatic capture and structuring of content.

Indian economy has grown steadily for the past five or six years, despite the slowdown. The growth in the banking industry has been strong, healthcare industry is gaining momentum, retail is booming and from the current 170 million consumer base, the telecom industry is expected to touch a whopping 700-million base by 2012. This will also drive growth in application-driven document generation and outsourcing.

Gartner notes that factors like increasing real estate prices and decreasing costs for capturing and storage technologies are driving adoption of DMS. Awareness for DMS is also increasing. The first entrants were large companies in BFSI and telecom and now smaller organisations are also adopting DMS in a significant way. It is being recognised as a tool for increasing productivity and improving collaboration for faster decision making.