As you all know electronic document management software (EDMS or DMS in short) is a computer program based system used to manage, track, store and reduce paperwork for your business. Now if you are planning to opt for a DMS, the first thing you need to decide on, is whether you want a cloud-based system or an onsite system.
A cloud-based system will scan and store your documents on cloud servers, and these services are provided by reputable companies like Amazon, Google, etc. While for on onsite server, you will have your documents stored on a local server which will be placed on your company’s premises. Both these options have their own positive and negative aspects. With the help of our easy to understand guide, you can decide on the optimum option for your business.
What is document management system?
- Document management system is an electronic system to organise all your digital and paper documents.
- This system works in a cycle which converts paper documents into a digital document.
Functions you can use these systems for
- Storing different types of documents like word-processing files, emails, PDF’s and spreadsheets.
- Can search entire library files with a single keyword.
- Restrict access to some documents
- Monitoring who is viewing the documents and when.
- Restore previous versions of edited documents.
- Sharing and editing documents through mobile devices.
Experts like Jeff Pickard believe that DMS systems help organize all the paper documents in a business organisation by keeping digital files in one central location. Now you know what document management software is and in our previous article, we did tell you the benefits of opting for a DMS system for your business.
Now moving on, I shall tell you how to choose the best DMS for your company.
- All the software are stored in your business on your company’s server.
- Self-hosted documents stores as many documents as your server.
- The partial cost of the software is based on the number of users. The self-hosted system cost thousands of dollars.
- There is an optional charge for ongoing support and software upgrades.
Pros of Self-hosted (DMS)
The pros of a self-hosted system are that you are always in control of your system, i.e. you don’t rely on anyone else for to keep your business running. In this system, you don’t need to depend on the internet. In case your internet connection is not working you can continue your work easily.
Cons of Self-hosted (DMS)
You need to bear large upfront costs and yearly expense of software updates. As your files are not automatically saved in the cloud, you need to have a backup system. All self-hosted systems are not compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. Many works with any one of the systems.
- The software is hosted by your provider and is accessible online.
- You can log in to these systems from any computer or mobile that has the internet connection.
- The cost of this system is some monthly fee for each user. The monthly fee can start from $100 per person.
- The provider of this system will take care of software upgrades and maintenance at no additional cost.
Pros of the cloud-based DMS
The most positive aspect of this system is that you don’t need an IT team to keep your software running smoothly. You do not need to have any backup system for your files and can tap into the system from anywhere with the internet system.
Cons of a cloud-hosted system
The negative aspect is that the system is running because of your provider if there is a problem at the data centre your access may be restricted until the problem is resolved. Cloud solutions have storage limits and if your internet connection fails your system won’t work at all.
Document Management System User Benefits
Our CEO Himanshu Patel says having such software in place means he doesn’t have to have a stockpile of files at his desk and he can instantly find the files when clients call him. It has helped him get his documents organized much more efficiently.
Easy to search
Most of the owners claim that easy and quick search of company’s documents is a huge benefit for them. The instant ability to search for any document so easily for presentations and notes is invaluable.
There are a lot of employees in an organization working on the same document and continuously editing the text. When records are in physical form, it becomes challenging for all employees to coordinate with each other easily. DMS has made the coordination among all employees smooth.
Usually, businesses have their documents stored in cabinets when they follow physical filing system. If any disaster occurs, all these physical records will be destroyed. Disasters like fire, pipe bursts etc. are likely to happen in any company. If your documents are stored online, they can be recovered quickly.
What to Look For In a Document Management System
Some notable features that a business should look into while choosing a DMS.
Opt for a system that offers easy to use file structure like a cabinet drawer folder system. You should also look into if the software takes over your existing file structure.
To what extent you can customise user access. By matter or By client.
For how long can you keep track of different versions of your documents and how are they stored and accessed.
Are u willing to perform full- text searches and are your searches based on off tags., fields. Is the setup user-friendly?
This system should give you option of securely sharing documents with external users with encrypted files both in transit and at rest. You can also check if it has the option to rescind the record and track it.
Check if your vendor is following all the legal compliances like HIPAA, SEC, etc.
Check if the billing system can integrate with your current time and billing software or you might need some custom programming.
Check if you can file emails directly into the package and how many steps does it take to do so.
Check if you can use the software from mobile devices and to what extent. Check if there are any native apps for every operating system.
Check your reporting capabilities and ways to control them. Check who can access them?
Is the dashboard easy to navigate or will your employees need the training to use and get started with the software?
Check that in case any software issues does the provider have a support team and what time is the support available. Find out their limitations on what they can do for you.
Does the vendor offer training to you and your staff? The training the vendor is providing and the cost if there is any because they might not charge you for the training provided.
Conversion Planning & Support
You need to check how accurately will you get from the current solution to the new solution. You need to analyse if you will need a third parties help to take you from design to follow up and the time taken for the implementation process.
Cost & Pricing Structure
Your current fees. How often you have to upgrade your license? How do you plan to pay on a monthly or yearly basis?
Now that you are aware of your requirements about the kind of DMS you need it’s highly essential you consider vendor viability.
These are few apparent questions you need to ask the vendors before purchasing a new DMS.
- For how long is the potential vendor in the business of DMS systems.
- Some new members who have contracted with the vendor in the past two years.
- Check the financial stability of the vendor and see if he willing to provide past financial statements to you.
Apart from these simple questions you also need to consider data and expertise.
Open v/s closed file formats
Information technology rules will always change from time to time and will evolve with the needs. For example, Microsoft word displaced word perfect as a descendent word formatting program. So choosing a file format from a single vendor is not a good idea for the long run, as it may not work after three years.
The TIFF file format is the preferred digital archival format around the world. By choosing an open file format like TIFF, you are ensuring high performance in hardware, software and communication technology.
In-house v/s outhouse expertise
The robust demand for DMS has created congestion of available talent and limiting the availability of genuinely talented qualified programmers, analysts and consultants. It’s important to focus on other factors like core planning and architecture guidance. Seek for DMS tools that support administrative tiers facilitating delegation of responsibility and configuration. Train the suitable person within your organisation to deploy and configure the majority of the system. This is a cost-effective approach and will improve your organisation’s ability to adapt to changes that occur within your organisation and with the DMS system.
Take your time and weigh all the different options before you choose the optimum DMS for your organisation. In my opinion, always go for something that will work for long-term and has upgrading options. Choose a trusted associate as you can reap the options and have a secure DMS system.
What DMS system have you used? What made you decide to go with that company? How was your experience with them? Please share your thoughts with us in the comments below.