The last thing your company needs is to waste good money on technology that’s soon obsolete or proves to be more trouble than it’s worth. With the variety of document management systems available today, how do you choose one that’s right for your company?
Here’s the short answer: Choose the solution and vendor that solve your specific, unique document challenges. It may be tempting to decide based on price, but what seems like a deal today could prove more expensive than you imagined if it doesn’t solve your problems effectively.
When vendors try to impress you with functions and features alone, they probably haven’t taken the time to understand your business and your document management needs. Challenge prospective vendors to show how the solution they’re offering meets your individual requirements and how it delivers the individual benefits you want to achieve.
Asking these five questions allows you to quickly weed out sub-par document management systems and get to the best solution for you:
- What is the installed base? A large installed base generally indicates that the document management system is mature technology that’s well established and widely used. When many organizations are using the system, the developer has a strong interest in maintaining this solution’s stability and quality. A large installed base also indicates the company has maintenance agreements and other arrangements in place to finance ongoing development, so the document management system is far less likely to become obsolete in the near future.
- Does it have future-proof architecture? To get a long useful life from your document management solution, it needs to have future-proof architecture, such as available mobile apps and a modern browser client, for example.
- Is it flexible enough to integrate with your other solutions? Each company has different systems that bring in or generate documents, from email to line-of-business applications such as an ERP and CRM system. Being able to integrate with all of your solutions is one of the most important functions of a document management system.
Documents from different systems are frequently intertwined in complex ways, so it’s important to collect documents from different sources into a central repository and organize them consistently. It’s equally important that you always have easy access to these documents from any one of your systems.
For instance, if you use Outlook for email, the document management system should allow you to click a button and properly file an email in your central repository under the same categories as all of your other documents. The same goes for your ERP, CRM and other systems. This way, when employees in your accounting team check an invoice, for example, they’re able to click a button and pull up all of the relevant correspondence around that invoice.
- Is the solution scalable? When you’re buying your document management solution, you might only have five users to start. But what happens if your company grows — is it able to accommodate 20, 200 or 2,000 users? You don’t want to have to change your platform every time your company grows.
Another important aspect of scalability to consider is how well the solution expands across your organization. If you start using the document management system in your accounting department, for example, could you expand the same solution into your HR and sales departments?
- Does it offer a true SaaS cloud option? You might prefer to use an on-premises document management solution today, but make sure you ask for a cloud-based software-as-a-service (SaaS) option. Ask for both and then choose your preference. You may want to move to the public cloud in the future since it’s usually far less expensive. At the least, the solution should offer a valid cloud alternative with 95 percent feature support, and the cloud option should be more cost-effective than the on-premises version.
You don’t want to get stuck with a costly document management system that’s only available on-premises or through a so-called “private cloud solution.” These private clouds are less efficient than public cloud solutions, and are usually almost as expensive as maintaining the infrastructure in-house.
Learn more about document management.