Document activity logs: more than a nice-to-have

In our increasingly technical world, we have access to so many options for keeping track of our lives. From how many steps we take, to the real-time location of our family members and friends, to all of our spending habits.

Why should it be any different for documents? Businesses often deal with seemingly endless paperwork - whether it’s involving internal processes such as employee contract signing and onboarding, or external processes, such as customer onboarding and partner agreements.

Management of digital documents has undergone some big changes in the last couple years, largely due to the covid-19 pandemic, but the move towards digital transformation was undeniably happening pre-lockdown. Companies were warming to the benefits of moving these workflows online.

The most obvious reasoning behind increasing digitalisation when it comes to documents is highlighted by the necessity to go digital: that businesses can continue to operate as usual in a time when it was not possible to meet face-to-face.

But just making a PDF and attaching it to an email doesn’t resolve some of the issues that can come with taking formerly paper processes to the online space. Just like sending a contract out with a certified courier service and requiring confirmation of delivery to the correct person, sending an email feels a little less certain somehow.

Yes, you are sending it to a particular email address but how do you know it reaches its destination and isn’t blocked by email service provider settings? Or what if their email has been hacked and someone other than the intended person receives the document? What if a customer claims they didn’t receive it? Thankfully, there are solutions available that combat these issues and provide additional benefits.

The right digital document solution will provide a secure connection for sharing documents and require identity verification for viewing. It will also show an activity log - a feature that gives you a better overview of how your documents are being handled. Activity logs give you that insight into your documents that is lacking in just a basic email attachment. They provide additional benefits as well.

Activity logs mean increased automation

Because of the fully digital nature of documents that include an activity log, the opportunities to automate previously tedious parts of the process are numerous. The right solution makes it easy to sync with existing systems, meaning, for example, that all data gathered from a digital document or questionnaire is synced automatically to a data management or storage system.

For most businesses, increased automation is clearly linked with improved productivity and efficiency. Taking the busy work out of the hands of the staff, which allows them to spend more time on things that matter.

Digital workflows that include an activity log also make it easier to follow up on late documents. The right solution will also automatically update the status of the document so that it will allow you to instantly send reminders (and know when to send those reminders).

Activity logs mean improved security

Many industries handle documentation that contains confidential or sensitive information. When sending an email attachment, for example, it can be difficult to determine who has actually accessed the document.

Because activity logs are fully digital, this means they are located within a portal and display information that can be crucial to security measures such as the email address with which the document was shared and authenticated access to the portal to view the document.

Beyond that, some solutions provide a verified electronic signature option, which makes it easy for recipients to sign documents digitally and considerably reduces the risk for the business as compared to simply sending an email attachment or Google doc.

Activity logs mean more accessibility

An email attachment might seem simple, but if it is a form that needs to be filled in, signed, and sent back, it can quickly get complex if the recipient doesn’t have the right programme or isn’t familiar with these kinds of digital processes.

The digital format of documents that have activity logs mean they are contained in a cloud-based portal, giving the recipient a link where they can authenticate their identity and are then guided through an online process that makes it easy to fill in necessary details and instantly sign electronically.

With the right solution, all that is required is a device with a wifi connection. There’s no need for special programmes and certainly not for printers and scanners (as many people still tend to rely on from time to time).

Activity logs mean a clear audit trail

Sometimes, it is necessary to see where a document has been, who has viewed it, and what other activity has occurred in relation to that particular document. This makes it easier to ensure the integrity of the data provided and handled.

A good activity log will make it simple not just to see who received the sharing link and accessed the portal, it will also include identity authentication for access, time-stamping of any main activities carried out in regards to the document, and electronic sealing of completed documents to prevent tampering.

These options can all be crucial if there comes a time when the activity surrounding a particular document needs to be checked. Activity logs provide a clear audit trail for each and every document.

Activity logs mean a smaller carbon footprint

It’s true! Beyond the benefits to security, data integrity, accessibility, and added automation, choosing a solution that offers an activity log means taking document workflows digital. This serves to reduce the amount of paper being used by a business.

It also means no more courier transport emissions or the need for driving to collect or provide an in-person “wet” signature. While the reduction of paper documents might seem minor, it quickly adds up each and every year.

So while an activity log might seem like a nice added bonus to an otherwise more important function, they serve multiple beneficial purposes and give businesses better oversight and more control over important documentation. All while helping them go green.