While the software you choose should fit your business in terms of form and function, there are best practices from successful projects that can help you form your decisions.
Below are five questions to consider when choosing a document management system:
1. “What are my business goals and what metrics are key indicators of progress?”
It’s important to consider why you’re pursuing document management in the first place. Is the goal to improve collaboration for multiple users? Are you trying to cut down on storage costs? Are you hoping to control the flow of documents through your business? Before implementing document management software, look at how long it takes you to complete key tasks today (processing invoices, work orders, sales orders, etc.) to create a baseline for your system’s performance. These metrics help promote user adoption and ROI.
2. “What business processes and workflows should we automate?”
The key to prioritizing areas ripe for automation is considering where your employees are spending most of their time. Do these tasks require human touch, or could they be automated in order to free employees up to spend their time on more demanding, high-impact tasks? These processes should be day-to-day tasks that are important for the business, like processing sales orders or responding to customer inquiries. Data capturing and indexing is critical to ensuring your users find what they need when they need it. The process of gathering documents requiring approval and multiple-user access should also be automated to streamline workflows and maximize the ROI on your document management system.
3. “What paper-based processes could be improved?”
A key mistake for some businesses when adopting document management software is emulating paper-based processes in a digital environment instead of revising and improving upon these processes. The ability to allow multiple users to access the same document at once, in some cases, eliminates the need for any gatekeeper. Instead, electronic notifications are sent to responsible parties notifying them when to take action. It’s important to ask why you follow certain procedures and how certain steps could be eliminated within the context of digital documents.
4. “If documents could be auto-indexed in an electronic system, which ones stay, and which ones go?”
If you’re looking at a lot of paper documents, you might be inclined to index all of these documents in an electronic system. But what documents are actually used on a daily basis? Electronic clutter exists in the same way as physical clutter. Focus on prioritizing these documents, and making sure the data you capture is useful for your business needs. Remember: data fields must be entered manually. So, if the data is not business-critical, let it go.
5. “What criteria should I use to evaluate document management systems?”
There’s a lot of technology out there, and not all of it is suited for your business. Developing an evaluation checklist helps prioritize features against your current needs. Questions might include: Does the software auto-name documents while scanning based on defined values, like user and date? Is the location of document data local or in the cloud, and how much data can we support locally? Are we able to create document templates by types? Do fulltext searches cover the entire document database?
The questions above should help you in the initial planning stage of pursuing digital document management. But another useful step in choosing the right software is seeking businesses of your same size and industry that pursued document management and asking what obstacles they encountered and what they wish they had known before implementation.
All of this fact-finding will only make your chosen system more effective and your business more efficient in the end.
Learn more about enterprise content management.