In a previous post, I briefly spoke about the importance of document management and why you should use a cloud system to get organized. Today’s post elaborates on that thought. Adopting a cloud solution to manage sensitive information can be intimidating. I get it. That being said, there are many reasons for MWBEs to manage electronic files and digitize their documents.
- Creating a structure to organize and share information
- Reducing paper
- Creating audit trails
- Ensuring regulatory compliance
- Facilitating internal and external collaboration
Document management systems (DMS) help companies digitize, store, manage, and track documents, data objects and images electronically. Whether referred to as systems, software or solutions, DMS offerings come with a variety of features. We’ve come up with some of the best across categories to help you sort through what can be a confusing array of options.
In our review, we found a breadth of offerings. Some systems focus on enabling storage, search, security and include some document revision and sharing functions. Others extend beyond DMS providing a multitude of bells and whistles (and plug-ins) for a spectrum of capabilities such as workflow creation, task management, collaboration, automated rules, and more.
As you read about the different systems, consider these two questions.
- What does this get me that helps enhance my business or fulfill a critical need?
- Where do I want my files stored?
There are three types of DMS: Cloud, on-premise, and hybrid.
Cloud: With this service, your documents are in the vendor’s cloud-ready for mobile access anytime and anywhere that you have internet. An affordable option that includes system management and updates and files are backed up to the cloud.
On-Premise: Allows more customization as the DMS sits on your server, and you’re not limited to contract-level storage. The up-front cost could be high, IT maintenance may be extra, and a back is needed in case of an outage.
Hybrid: Combo of the first two options
When looking at DMS options key factors to consider are:
- Security: One aspect is your ability to control access and set permissions for documents and files within the system. Assessing how these files are securely shared internally and externally is important. Another aspect is the level of security protecting your data where it is stored. If you’re looking at a cloud solution, ensure the vendor’s security for their data centers is sufficient to protect your data and comply with any regulations for your industry.
- Scanning: If you’re drowning in paper, find a system that allows for scanning mass quantities of documents with features for automated naming and filing.
- Search: It is wise to make sure that no matter how the system organizes your files, search capabilities allow full-text keyword searches within files.
Access, Edit, Monitor: How extensive are your business’s needs for creating, accessing and changing documents? When reviewing a DMS, look at:
- Document and file access/permission setting – are roles assigned, is access set by the document, folder or both, can you set permissions by individuals and by groups?
- File sharing/editing – is there a check-in/out, can multiple users edit?
- Monitoring and tracking – can you see who has viewed the document, do you get an activity/audit log, can you set alerts?
- Version control – can you see version history, how does the system ensure the most current version is being worked on, can you access previous versions?
- Creation, assembly and archiving – what features are in place for the lifetime of the document from creation through archiving?
Collaboration: How much internal and external collaboration do you need to empower? While version control, editing and electronic signature may be fairly standard DMS features, some systems include workflows, co-authoring, task management, alerts, messaging and more.
User-friendliness: You want as close to 100% system adoption as you can get. Be sure the tools and interface are user-friendly.
Mobility: If mobile access is a priority, find a system that’s compatible with all devices. Consider one that has an app that replicates the desktop experience.
Integration: Does it connect to your CRM could be important. In today’s hyperconnected world integration is key. It will drive you future software, no matter the type of platform.
Price: DMS price varies by vendor and service. As referenced earlier, on-premise DMS has a substantial up-front cost. However, with cloud service, you’ll likely pay a monthly or yearly fee determined on a per-user/month or storage-capacity basis, and additional features may add to costs.
As you know, cloud-based systems are our favorite. Here are three systems to consider. If you’re looking for a DMS system, let our partners at Technology Advice help you find the right platform for you.
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