What Should You Look for in a Document Management System?
Most up to date document management systems manage the storage of digital images (PDF, TIFF, JPEG) and electronic records (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, CAD) to store information.
Once documents and data are stored within a solution, they make it possible to retrieve and examine documents, restrict access to sensitive information and destroy data in a safe and compliant manner.
Many document management systems are available on the market, from the entirely bespoke to those fully or partially configured, it is important that you take the right advice in choosing which is best for you.
Whilst all have the basic functionality to both store and retrieve documents, matters such as integration, security, privacy and access should be high amongst your considerations.
- Document Creation
It is important to consider the types of documentation you handle and how you would wish to store these.
Does information arrive with you in paper form and will need to be scanned before storing it and will you require to retrieve this data by image, text or both?
Will all of the information you store be in the form of documents or do you require the facility to extend to video and audio files?
Will you require a system to manage and store email (with or without attachments)?
- Document Storage
By definition document management systems are predominantly for the storage of documents as opposed to the traditional method of maintaining these in hard copy with all the inherent risks and inefficiencies this brings.
When storing documents electronically you will need to consider the following carefully:
Does the solution automatically back up your stored data, how often does this occur and to where?
Will documents be converted on entry or stored in their original format?
Will documents be fully OCR’d (Optical Character Recognition) at the point of storage to allow users to search via a documents text?
- Document Retrieval
For the majority of users, the ability to accurately retrieve documents may be the only functionality they use and therefore is critical to the smooth running of your operation, not to mention employee morale.
Document retrieval is best achieved on the premise of what it is, as opposed to where it is. Good solutions will allow the user to not only search for documents by title but also by text.
Whilst document management systems are available as on-premise server-based solutions, the majority are now being delivered and maintained within the cloud. The latter allows users to access the solution from any location and on any device, which has been important as more and more employees are working away from their traditional office base.
A document management system should integrate fully with ALL of your existing platforms. This will enable information to be shared across your various systems facilitating a single point of entry, with your processes being shared seamlessly. Furthermore, to avoid unnecessary disruption employees may continue to use familiar software, albeit with increased functionality delivered via the under-pinning document management platform. For example, the image of an invoice may be viewed within your finance solution without the need to move between screens.
- The Security of Your Data
All document management systems are sensitive of the need to provide absolute security in respect of those documents and procedures held within them. It is strongly recommended that you ask for and receive a detailed breakdown of the security features of a solution you are considering and that these match precisely the protocols within your own organisation.
- Management of Documents
As well as storing your precious documents a document management solution as standard should allow you to perform the following day to day tasks.
- Version Control: The ability to work with a document and save it as an updated version with previous versions being visible.
- Review and Deletion: The ability to install review dates to documents and potentially delete these in line with either company or statutory policy.
It may be that your initial requirement for a document management solution is localised or departmental, however will this always be the case and is your chosen solution scalable?
Your chosen solution should have the capability of expanding its capacity both departmentally, within your current office or indeed globally if required.
It should be capable also of expansion by way of active users and storage space.
- Workflow Automation
Whilst it is acknowledged that for the vast majority of users, document management systems will only be used for the storage and retrieval of documents from a secure environment. However, an opportunity to explore how it can be used to automate and bring order to your current manual, often paper driven processes should not be ignored.
Better electronic document management systems should be capable of replicating exactly any activity you currently undertake both within the confines of your office and those involving others outside of this.
- Choose your Provider Carefully
From many years of experience, it is clear that most companies providing electronic document management systems are either tied or restricted to a particular platform. It may of course be that their offering fits precisely your current and future requirements but time spent comparing systems before forming your decision is rarely ill spent.
BPMS are completely independent of any particular software provider and as such are best placed to provide you with completely impartial advice. From entirely bespoke to pre-configured solutions we are able to partner your organisation in establishing exactly the right system to cater for your needs both now and in the future.
Why not get in touch and book your free initial consultation and let us start the process together.