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Choosing Document Management Software for Your Business

Choosing Document Management Software
Steven Carrie

By Steven Carrie Business Solutions Consultant, Updated 17 May 2017

Document management software allows businesses to store files and documents on any computer or network, which can easily be viewed and retrieved at any time. As disk storage, scanning hardware, and high-speed internet connections become less expensive, Document management software is becoming more and more popular with organisations of all kinds. However, there are a host of document management software solutions available, not all of which have the features or flexibility to suit the needs of your business. This article explains what to consider when choosing document management software. 

 

 Features to consider when choosing document management software.

Properties To Consider

There are certain properties that you ought to consider when selecting Document Management services.

Functionality

A solid Document Management System should contain these essential functions:
• Maintaining a store of electronic documents
• Providing a means of keeping the documents secure
• Providing a means of putting the documents in a defined workflow
• Providing comprehensive audit data
• Complying with regulatory requirements

Think twice if your possible software doesn’t satisfy one of these requirements.

Integration

There are two integration points for any document management software: getting documents into the system and retrieving the documents when necessary. You should check how well your potential Document Management service integrates with major ERP and Accounting Systems, especially systems that you currently use. If your ERP and Document Management Systems tightly integrate, then viewing and processing documents is made easier by drilling down from your ERP software. This saves time whilst also providing an accurate audit trail of financial transactions. Your software should also be compatible with your current hardware, such as scanners and printers, or you will be forced to purchase new electronics.

Searching

The quick delivery of documents is a priority for customers, who naturally will favour businesses who don’t force them to wait. An important step to fast Document Management processes is quick results when searching for documents or files. It’s important to have different options for searching, such as full text search, which can help you find documents accidentally placed in the wrong folder, and lets you search text embedded within documents as well.

Portability

You may need to be prepared to move your Accounting system at some point, which involves making sure that your Document Management product is flexible enough to be taken with you.

Experience

A simple one, but this can be easily forgotten. It is recommended that you acquire your software from a provider with a proven track record of providing solutions to companies, especially those with similar business operations to yours. Look for reviews and customer testimonials, or contact their customers directly.

Customisation

As your company grows, its requirements may change. You may find that you need to handle a greater number of documents. Make sure the system is scalable enough to handle all the documents you need, and that they can be of any size or type. Think about what specific features you need from the software, such as optical character recognition.

User Interface

A simple and intuitive user interface with a small learning curve will make users feel more comfortable and help them to get the most out of the software.

Multi-User Access

Allowing multiple people to access documents at once not only improves productivity, but is essential in order to realise projects that require group coordination. Software that allows multi-user access should also provide tools to restrict who can access or edit the files to avert data theft.

File Format Compatibility

A Document Management service ought to support the most basic file formats such as JPEG, PDF, TIFF, Excel and Word, so that sharing files is simple and convenient.

Document Control

In order to know if a file has been deleted or edited, a Document Management service needs to be able to deliver previous versions of documents.

File Structure

The file structure should be easy to understand and use, such as a cabinet-drawer-folder approach, in order to make document management processes more efficient.

Mobile Access

The Document Management System should be able to be accessed by smartphones and tablets, so that the software can be accessed and used remotely.

Self-Hosted or Cloud-Hosted?


There are two main ways that Document Management services are hosted: self-hosted and cloud-hosted. In a self-hosted Document Management System, all of the software is stored within your organisation on its own servers. You can store as many documents and files as your system can tolerate. The cost is usually one-time and based on the number of users. There is usually an optional yearly charge for ongoing support and software upgrades.

On the other hand, cloud-hosted Document Management Systems are hosted by a provider and accessed via the web. Users can log into these systems from any computer or mobile device that’s connected to the internet. Cloud-hosted systems are paid for through a monthly fee for each user. The system’s provider handles all of the software upgrades and maintenance for no extra cost.

Self-hosted systems give you total control, with no need to rely on anyone else to keep the system going. Unlike a cloud-based system, if you lose access to the internet, your documents are still accessible. However, self-hosted systems tend to be more expensive through large upfront costs and annual expenditure on software updates. The responsibility for backing up your files and documents is placed on you, as your files are not automatically saved as with cloud-hosted software.

Cloud-hosted systems have no significant upfront costs, and don’t require an IT team to install and maintain the software. The system is accessible from anywhere with internet access, and files are automatically backed up to the Cloud for you. However, it is your responsibility to run and maintain the system. You are also at the mercy of your provider, so if its data centre goes down, you may not be able to access your files and documents. You also will lose access if your internet connection stops working. Cloud solutions have a storage limit as well.

There is no right answer as to whether self-hosted or cloud-hosted Document Management Systems are better; it depends on the nature of your organisation. If you can afford a self-hosted system, you can enjoy the benefits of unlimited storage. However, if you are looking for an affordable solution and storage limits don’t bother you, then you may be better off with cloud-hosted data management software.

There is clearly a lot to consider when selecting a document management service. Going through every option takes a lot of time and money, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll will end up with the right solution. What if you could sort this out with a simple phone call?

At Software Advisory Service, we can find the right Document Management service. We offer expert, non-chargeable buying advice, and can provide a shortlist of potential software vendors depending on your specific requirements. Fill in your requirements here so that we can find the solution you need today!

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