Document management critical to combating record levels of fraud

Following the publication of a survey from professional services firm KPMG*, which highlights that company fraud cases reached a record high in 2008, Lynne Munns, General Manager of Version One, stresses the crucial role document management systems play in helping to prevent business fraud and the associated damage to an organisations reputation.

KPMGs Annual Forensics Fraud Barometer revealed that UK courts heard more than 1.1bn worth of fraud cases in 2008, the surveys highest recorded level since 1995. According to KPMG, company managers, employees and customers were tried for fraud relating to 300m last year three times the value seen in 2007. Worryingly, the KPMG survey predicts that these figures are likely to increase in 2009 as the credit crunch tightens.

Lynne Munns, General Manager of document management and imaging company Version One, says, These statistics indicate that the economic downturn is responsible for more and more employees committing fraudulent acts. This escalating trend is only going to get worse as employees undertake desperate measures to solve their own financial problems, potentially bringing an organisation to its knees.

Electronic document management systems, tightly integrated into organisations accounting, ERP and HR systems, minimise the risk of fraud as documents, such as invoices, purchase orders and personnel records are imaged and then securely stored in an electronic archive. These documents are a permanent record which cannot be destroyed or altered in any way reducing the risk of an employee eliminating or manipulating evidence to cover their tracks, as Arthur Anderson staff did during the infamous Enron investigation. Document management systems also allow strict levels of document access and make it possible to maintain audit trails so that it is clear who approved what and when, further counteracting attempts to hide suspicious activity.

Munns comments, In the current economic climate, organisations are increasingly susceptible to internal fraud as much as external threats. It is therefore vital that staff are not provided with the means to easily commit fraud. Systems such as document management reduce the risk of fraudulent activity as they prevent documents from being manipulated or shredded in an attempt to cover fraudsters tracks. It is therefore vital for organisations to look at implementing systems such as these as part of their cross-company security measures.

Munns adds, Even in todays climate of financial uncertainty, document management represents a solid investment. As well as helping to prevent fraud and the associated damage to an organisations bottom line as well as its reputation, document management significantly improves efficiency whilst providing a tangible return on investment.

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