When Selecting an EDMS, Are We Really Comparing Apples to Apples?

We are happy to welcome Lynn Downs, co-owner of Bits and Bytes Document Solutions, to the DocuWare blogging team. Lynn not only is an expert in the field of document management, but is also a successful entrepreneur.

By: Lynn Downs

Now more than ever, organizations are looking for a way to streamline business processes by implementing an Electronic Document Management Solution (EDMS). Some of the key business drivers are management of paper records, regulatory compliance, and cost savings, not necessarily in that order. Organizations often get stuck in the process due to confusion about product selection. It is important to consider the product and product manufacturer, as well as the vendor partner that will service your organization.

There are many products on the market that claim to deliver “seamless ECM” and “ease of integration” and “automated workflow”. Buyers can become frustrated by the choices, wondering I am comparing apples to apples? Usually they are not. It is important for organizations to develop a list of key requirements for an ECM that align to their business case for the EDMS solution. It is also important to take into account how your users will interact with the new system, to determine which features and functionalities are required for the solutions’ success and which are just bells and whistles. Will the organization utilize workflow? How does IT want to roll-out the solution? For example, will users access the application via their workstations, the web, or a mobile application? What type of licensing is available?

It is also important to differentiate between software manufacturers. This differentiation could be based whether the software is a solution unto itself, or whether it is simply an add-on feature to a hardware product that can image paper. Although you may be looking for a solution to a particular business problem at this time, it makes sense to select a product that can be used enterprise wide in the future without having to purchase yet another solution. Look for “best in class” software solutions developed by a manufacturer that places their research and development dollars into constantly improving the product and adding feature sets. Expect to see a Software Maintenance and Support Contract included with your EDMS purchase. These contracts are traditional in the industry and provide the latest version upgrades, patches, and fixes that are available as long as you keep the contract current each year. This will make certain that your purchase will not become just another obsolete legacy application.

And remember lastly, but most importantly to select a Vendor Partner with the technical services resources to support the solution not only during the installation and initial training, but over the long haul as you roll the solution out to other departments or decide to integrate with other applications. Questions to ask include: What type of training is included? Will documentation for our solution be provided? Do you have a Help Desk? Do your technicians carry industry certifications? What is the cost to add users and departments after the fact? Make sure that a Statement of Work will be provided and agreed to, detailing both vendor and customer responsibilities.

Regardless of what product or vendor you choose, be sure you are educated about your needs and ready to make your selection based on your unique requirements. For information on how to conduct a needs analysis for your organization feel free to contact me or register for one of our webinar workshops.

Submitted by Lynn Downs

Co-owner of Bits and Bytes Document Solutions

www.bbds.biz

AIIM Electronic Records Management Master

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