A well implemented document management system (DMS) can deliver huge benefits to all kinds of organisations. However these benefits, such as productivity increases, are often too “soft” to measure and therefore difficult to justify financially. An online DMS can be a great way for organisations to start experiencing some of the benefits of a DMS but without having to make the initial investment often required for a DMS consultancy project. But what criteria should we use when we’re deciding on the right online DMS?
There are lots of systems available and it can be quite overwhelming and time-consuming to go through them all. I suggest the following criteria when you’re doing your research:
- Requires zero financial commitment – a simple, monthly and transparent pricing model with a free trial
- Requires zero consultancy and minimal training – intuitive “do-it-yourself” approach
- Requires zero capital investment & zero maintenance i.e. purely cloud-based – no servers and no server administrators
Each organisation is different and has different needs. So while you’re learning about each system you may want to evaluate the product features in the light of your own organisation’s needs in the following five areas.
- Capture & Import Features – What documents do you need to capture and store? Where are these documents and who owns them?
- Storing and Archiving Methods – Who will be storing documents? Are the documents currently stored in a logical way? Or do you need to enforce some rules?
- Indexing and Retrieval Tools – Some documents need to be accessed frequently and some virtually never. How do your users need to find documents? Think about the criteria used to find a document.
- Distribution Tools – Do users need to collaborate on documents? Do you need version control and copies of previous versions? Is there a workflow process? Do users need to reject/approve documents?
- Security Features – Should all users be able to see all documents? Should all users be able to see the all the meta-data associated with the document? Do you need to manage your users in groups?
The most valuable benefit to this process will be the learning process. Even if you don’t find the perfect DMS, you’ll at least get a better understanding of the underlying processes. Once the processes have been correctly analysed then the system will often just fall into place. The return on investment (ROI) will then be clearer and you’ll be ready to invest in a document management system that will truly make an impact on the bottom line.