The need for electronic document management in business
  1. The Challenge

One of the most difficult things to organise is paper. Whether it is small shopping receipts, utility bills, letters, personal land titles, etc., proper filing and securing of these records becomes not only more important but more difficult as the volumes grow.

Enterprises handle large amounts of paper records through correspondences. So their challenges are much higher when it comes to filing and securing their records.

Manual filing poses the following additional challenges:

  1. Physical space required to store the records becomes larger and larger until you have no space in your own setting. This forces you to hire space elsewhere but even this has a limit both to availability and cost. In addition records that are away from you are not secure.
  2. Finding and retrieving records in a physical storage is difficult, takes time and at times it is impossible to locate if someone physically moved the document to a wrong location in the shelves.
  3. The more you access the documents the more the tear and wear as constant removal from the files degrades the documents.
  4. A physically stored document can only be accessed by one person at a time. This creates the need for users to photocopy in order to return the document to the store for other users.
  5. Photocopying is not only a cost but renders documents to be seen by those who should not as bosses tend to send lower cadres to do the photocopying.
  6. It is very difficult to create disaster recovery record copies for your personal  and enterprise use as it requires photocopying and filing every record twice; one on your premises and another remotely somewhere for security against disasters such as storms and fires.
  7. Securing documents is hard as physical access to multi-levels of security is difficult to implement. In addition, for enterprises, junior staff can easily access confidential documents when they go to clean the registry or are sent to photocopy documents.
  1. What is Electronic Document and Records Management

Electronic Document and Records Management Systems (EDRMS) involves the use of computer servers to store protected, encrypted copies of your business and personal documents on a computer hard disk. Authorised users can then connect to the server from within the office, home, or away from the physical premises sheltering the server.

Those who have access to  stored content can only view, use, modify, copy content of what they are specifically authorised to do so.

    1. The basic setup

The minimum requirement for setting up an EDRMS are listed below

      1. Hardware




Computer Server running an appropriate operating system and database engine such as Windows Server 2012 or higher and Microsoft SQL Server 2012 higher respectively

The host for applications that will run the EDRMS software and also store the softcopies of documents for access by authorised users

LAN or Wi-Fi based network within the office or home

Allows the system users connect to the EDRMS server from their workstations locally via web services

Internet connection with firewall

Allows remote user to securely connect to the EDRMS server from outside the location of the server

Document Scanner/Large document Digitisers

This is required to convert hardcopy documents into softcopy for storage on the EDRMS server

This hardware can be hired and used as and when required unless one engages in daily large volumes of hardcopy documents that need conversion

Laptops, iPads, Smartphones, Desktop computers

As required by users who need to access the documents stored on the EDRMS

      1. Software




An EDRMS software

The software that enables the storage and access to stored content

Scanning and other utilities

Software used in driving scanners and digitisers to convert hardcopy document into softcopies

    1. How does it work?

EDRMS involved setting up web accessible server to host softcopies of your documents, paper records, photos, videos, sound, and any other file apart from databases. But you can create databases to hold key information such as reports, statistical data, reports, etc.

The server is browser accessed so it is independent of which operating system the user who needs to access the documents uses. It also allows access through devices like Android phones, iPhone phones, etc., making it a portable tool wherever you are as long as you have Internet running at the server and on your device.

    1. Benefits

EDRMS will resolve all the seven challenges in section one and add the following from a host of functions

  1. Ability to store documents, videos, sound, media, photos, drawings, etc.
  2. Ability to scan and upload paper documents and records
  3. Ability to save documents and other content directly from user workstations to the system
  4. Ability to code all uploaded content with metadata to facilitate advanced search and retrieval
  5. Ability to search and retrieve stored content within less than a fraction of  a second
  6. Ability to simultaneously access the same document without the need to wait for one user to return it to the registry or archive
  7. Ability to restrict access to content through a complex set of access rights
  8. Ability to implement document-based business automation that helps automate many business processes in case of business enterprises
  9. Access to your content from any part of the world where there is Internet

Figure 1: Pictorial representation of a worldwide accessible EDRMS

  1. Advanced features of a good EDRMS solution

In addition to all the advantages mentioned above, a good EDRMS solution is a wonderful tool for promoting efficiency in a business organisation or government enterprise taking advantage of the following features.

    1. Team Collaboration

EDRMS enables teams within an organisation to work on a common document like a report, bid document, technical designs, etc., without having to move from desk to desk. The common documents, photos, videos, audios, drawings, etc., can be concurrently accessed by team members, modified and automatically updated. The system maintains an automated versioning to track all changes made including who made them, what date and time.

    1. Automated alerts for assignments

This feature enables users to assign others tasks that must be completed within a deadline. The system will send out alerts via email and desktop notifications to those assigned tasks. Delayed response to tasks is followed by automated reminders to those who do not meet their deadlines.

    1. High levels of Access restriction

Unlike in the manual filing system, EDRMS offers a very robust content control matrix where each individual or group of individuals are assigned content access rights such as

  • No access to specific content
  • View only access to specific content
  • Read only access to specific content
  • Read/Write access to specific content
  • Read/Write/Delete access to specific content
    1. Automated Archiving of content

EDRMS allows for automatically archiving content in line with enterprise or personal policies.

    1. Automated retention and disposition

Using your organisation or personal retention rules, you can configure the system to automatically flag items that are no longer needed so you can dispose of them to save storage space.

    1. Disaster Recovery

EDRMS provides the easiest and most reliable disaster recovery arrangements for your hosted content since it can be remotely replicated thousands of kilometres away from your location.

In the event that the local system collapses through a fire, storm or vandalism, the disaster site can be used to reconstruct all your records up to the time the disaster occurred in less than two days.


The writer is the CEO of Computer Supplies Ltd, a computer consultancy he founded in 1991 for self-propelling wealth creation purposes. A Corporate Member of both UIPE and the ICT Association of Uganda, and also a Registered Practising Engineer with the ERB. He is one of the best-qualified electrical engineers in the digital electronics speciality in Uganda and the whole Great Lakes Region. He is a consultant of international repute as he has been as far afield as Ethiopia, South Sudan, Tanzania and Malawi. Though well-known in UIPE and the ERB as an engineer among equals in the fraternity, this Forum stumbled on him as a foremost innovator as early as his student days in Nabumali High School.



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