Investing in a document management system (DMS) for your business is incredibly stressful as there are many options you have to choose from. DMS includes different features and offerings, which might make it more challenging when you think about it. This article will offer guidance that will make it easier for you to choose the best DMS for your business.
Types of Document Management System
A document management system is a system that is used to manage, store and track documents. The system can also keep records of documents’ versions that were created and modified. DMS mainly falls into one of four categories:
1. Server-based DMS
If your business uses on-premise servers, then you will require a DMS that can be installed as a stand-alone and does not require an internet connection if it does what it does. Server-based DMS are typically faster than the other types of DMSs, and they are installed on local workstations and then connected to the local area network (LAN). These DMSs are highly customisable and can easily be configured to reflect user security levels and individual preferences.
2. Database DMS
A database DMS assists in organising, linking, and cross-referencing various data sources like images, documents, and other assorted data. The software will then store the data and enable you to sort and search for what you need based on field queries or other options. One of the major advantages of using a database DMS is it connects and integrates with a wide range of productivity software. This assists users in accessing files and data they require without knowing where it is stored in the company system.
3. Cloud-Based DMS
Cloud-based DMS is stored in the cloud and stores information remotely, enabling users to access files they need from any device at any given time. This kind of DMS is usually at a monthly charge for the service and can be augmented using various features. With the ability to set user access and track document versions, a cloud-based DMS allows remote workers greater flexibility regarding features and security rules.
4. Web Based DMS
Like a cloud-based DMS, a web-based DMS can be integrated with popular productivity software like Microsoft Excel and Word. These can be accessed using a browser and do not require specific software installed to run them. Most web-based DMS are open-source, which makes them free or low-cost. You can configure this DMS to connect to your office software through an API.
What to Look for in a Document Management System
Implementing a document management system is essential for your business, and when searching for the right system, there is a lot to consider. Below are the things that you could look out for.
Gaining easier access to electronic records is an essential aspect of a DMS for most businesses, but they must be secure. Therefore, when choosing the best system for your organisation, look at the security features the DMS offers and the security methods of the company that will be providing the system to you, especially if they are the ones who will host it for you. The digital security of the DMS application should also include questions about encryption, employee access to digital information and data, internal or external network transmission procedures and the subcontractors that will be used if conversions are part of the DMS implementation.
When using a third party for cloud storage or to store your digital records, you should ask for details about the security procedures they use. The procedures could include physical security features like access to stored data centres, 24/7 monitoring of documents, use of multi-factor identification for employees, entire audit trail available for any accessed records, and use of encryption and passwords. Ask about the company’s security audits and any penetration testing that looks for holes in security posture.
2. Capabilities and User Experience
Not all document management systems are created the same and they are not all equal. Therefore, you need to understand what your DMS is capable of and what you want it to be able to do. Though the overall objective of DMSs is the same, at a high level, most of the options are very similar. However, there will be differences, and you need to understand which ones are most important to you. Consider the technical abilities of your employees and who will need to use the software. If you are looking for a system that offers excellent features but will be challenging for your team to learn, you may need to look for one that is a lot simpler and that your employees can use.
Take some time to look at the integration capabilities and check to see if there are any add-ons or special requirements you might need. When looking for a DMS, it is vital that you also include the people from different departments as you need to ensure that all office staff can use it and not just the IT team.
As your business grows, you will want your DMS to also grow along with it. Therefore, when looking for DMS, you need to understand if it offers a plan for scalability. Ensure that the system can keep up with your needs so that you do not have to put in more time and effort to change to a more robust platform later. If you are not planning on growing, you do not have much to worry about. Just be careful, as growth will cause some headaches if your technology is not suited for the ride. If you are only focusing on staff growth, you should consider other growth methods, such as customer users, revenue, service volume, etc.
Lastly, when considering a DMS for your business, you should be diligent when researching the company that creates the system. You should be comfortable with the products they have made and the reviews they have received from customers. Ensure that the company has an excellent reputation for customer service, resolving issues efficiently and quickly. The company should provide options for troubleshooting or assistance with keeping your DMS on-site. The same applies even if you choose the cloud-hosting option, as you still need to ensure that you are working with someone you can trust to keep your application running and secure.
Proper document management is crucial for the success of your business; however, it can be incredibly challenging. To ensure that you choose the best DMS for your business, you can follow the tips offered above.