Things to Consider When Choosing a Business Document Management System
In most sectors, businesses have quickly moved from storing paper in filing cabinets to storing and managing electronic documents and files digitally. The benefits of managing documents and files on digital devices can be enhanced further by using a document management system. A DMS can deliver further efficiency by streamlining work procedures and controlling shared document storage space. The benefits of using a DMS are well documented, but choosing a DMS system to fit your requirements is crucial to make sure you get the most from your investment.
Like any other product, each flavour of DMS will have its own strengths and drawbacks. So, it’s imperative that you choose the one that most closely suits your operational needs. That said, there are several other factors that should be considered to help in making the decision easier.
1. Define your business needs for a DMS
Most Document management systems at their core, are essentially the same; they store documents electronically and these are made accessible to users for viewing or download. Consider existing systems that your business uses and the types of documents/reports etc that they create and how you need these documents to be stored. For example, you use an accountancy software package and this generates reports, invoices etc., so it’s important you understand how they will be stored in the new DMS. What are your business requirements for storing email communication with clients? How many staff members will be using the system and what access permissions will they be granted to store, access, review and download documents.
Create a list of your business’s requirements, the applications and tools you use on a regular basis, and then work out the features you will need in a new system to manage your electronic documents. Then list these in different categories of priority: must have, should have, could have; etc
2. Ease of use
Make sure the system is easy to use – this sounds obvious but you need to remember there are likely to be many different types of users of your new DMS, and it’s very likely that they will have differing technical abilities. User adoption will be important to the success of your project, so make sure you ask a selection of people to review the system and provide feedback.
3. After sales support
It is essential that your staff are supported sufficiently after implementation. Unlike many desktop software applications, Document management systems are complex and can be integrated with many other software packages, so the solutions can be intricate, and because they quickly become a part of your working day, you need a great support system in the background that your staff can rely on when you may need changes to be made to your DMS filing structure, when there are changes to staff, or when you need to train new employees, etc. So, make sure you fully understand training provision and ongoing support when selecting a document management system
4. Integration with external systems
As we have highlighted already, the DMS you choose will need to be able to integrate flawlessly with current software systems your business uses. There are also likely to be tools and features that will simplify the way you work; as an example, systems can include integration with Anti Money Laundering solutions, Companies House, with Windows and Microsoft Outlook for filing emails, so make sure know what software integration is required and what is possible in the system you are considering.
5. Sharing and collaboration
It is likely that more than one of your staff will need to work on a specific document, you may need to send the same document to external parties/clients to verify or review document content. A DMS that includes appropriate sharing and collaboration tools and features can help improve business efficiency. For example, Docusoft includes the necessary tools to share documents securely with clients. Documents are made accessible via a branded web page, with tools for signing and messaging, Additionally, all changes made are tracked and can be conveniently viewed in an audit tool.
6. Manage Workflow
This feature is especially important for medium to large firms that have several departments and a considerable number of staff. Based on criteria defined in the system, documents can be forwarded automatically for the attention of specific users or groups of users, at the time they are filed and indexed by the DMS. Simple workflows are also just as important for smaller firms too, where the efficient processing of files is just as important.
Automation is also an important consideration. Automation can also be very specific, so understand how the DMS you are considering can be customised to meet the needs of your firm. Do you want all emails to be saved in the system automatically? Do you need hot folders to be added to automate filing?
Your DMS should be accessible – not confined to your office network, especially now when there is the new ‘normal’ way of working, so allow staff remote access when working from homes or when they may need access from a client site, accessible 24/7 on any device.
Make sure there are sufficient access controls and privileges that can be applied to users and the structure of your centralised filing system to further secure sensitive business information and personal client files.
10. Data Security
Make sure your internal IT infrastructure has sufficient security in place to prevent attacks on your internal systems. Also, check what kind of security protocols your DMS provider has in place and talk to them about how they keep your data secure.
Not all Document management systems are equal, some are better than others and some may suit your needs better. To make the correct choice, you will need to research your needs and match these, as best you can to the DMS solutions you are considering. Talk with several vendors and explain what your business needs to store and manage your business documents, and then compare individual demos or software trials, and to see what they have to offer. Make sure you include Docusoft to your list of potential DMS suppliers and we will be more than happy to provide you with a free demonstration and work with you to customise our DMS to ensure it meets your organisational needs.