The days of paper storage are long gone. Any firm requires a good document management system. You can help your company succeed by digitizing and securely preserving vital documents.
However, where do you begin when looking for a document management system? After all, it’s a bustling market with numerous merchants. This guide will teach you the fundamentals of document management systems and offer you a procurement road map.
What is a document management system?
Document management solutions are essentially digital filing cabinets for all of your paper papers in your organization. With a scanner, any hard copies of documents can be scanned and uploaded immediately into the document management system. Document management systems frequently allow users to insert metadata and tags that can be used to categorise all of the files that are saved.
The built-in search engine in most document management software systems helps users to rapidly explore even the largest document libraries to find the right file. Are you also storing confidential documents? Don’t worry; most document management systems contain permission settings that ensure only authorised individuals have access to sensitive data.
Assessing your organization’s needs is the first step in selecting the correct document management system. The first decision you’ll have to make is whether to go with an on-premises or cloud-based solution. Although each sort of system performs the same functions, there are numerous fundamental changes in how maintenance and data are handled.
Types of document management systems
You can choose between on-premises and cloud-based software when selecting a document management system. So, which one should you pick?
Document management systems on-premises
You must use your own servers and storage with an on-premises solution, which means you must handle your own maintenance. You’ll be responsible for all of your data’s security, so make sure you back it up. Because of the higher technical demands, this solution is best suited for larger firms with specialised IT staff, but it also gives you complete control over your system. The vendor’s technical support and software updates are frequently conditional on your annual subscription package being renewed.
The most significant advantage of a self-hosted document management system is that you are always in control of your system and are not reliant on others to maintain it operational. You, too, are not reliant on the internet. You can still view all of your papers if your internet connection goes down.
The disadvantage is the high initial price, as well as the additional yearly cost of software updates. Furthermore, because your files are not automatically saved in the cloud, you must ensure that you have a comprehensive backup strategy in place. Another disadvantage is that not all self-hosted systems are compatible with both Windows and Mac computers; many are only compatible with one.
Cloud-based document management systems
Your provider hosts cloud-based software and makes it available to your company over the internet. Cloud-based solutions often require a monthly or annual fee that covers all maintenance and software updates. Cloud-based solutions can cost anything from a few dollars to more than $100 per user each month, depending on the system you choose and the capabilities you need.
The main advantages are that you don’t require an IT professional to install and maintain the program, and there are no major upfront fees. You may access these systems from any computer with an internet connection, and you don’t need to back up your files because they are automatically saved in the cloud.
However, you are at the mercy of your provider to keep the system up and running. If your provider has a problem with its data center, it could prevent you from accessing your files until the situation is resolved. In addition, if your internet connection fails, you won’t be able to get to your files. Cloud solutions also typically have storage limits.
Document management system features
Some of the most important document management features are as follows:
Document storage: The most fundamental and important purpose of a document management system is to securely store and search your company’s papers. There are various file formats document management uses.
Keyword search: A decent document management system includes a broad keyword search feature that allows you to quickly find any document using precise keywords. Metadata and tags are used by some systems to make it easier to recollect a document or set of documents. For example, labeling all of your invoices as “invoice” allows you to quickly see all invoices with a single search.
Permissions: You can give certain employees access to certain documents while preventing others from reading or modifying them by setting up tiered permissions.
Document Restoration: Edit history and restoration options should be available in a document management system so you can see who modifies papers. Versioning allows you to go back to previous versions of a document that has been edited and see exactly which modifications were made by which people at what time.
Other than the above, document management systems include regulation controls for automatic saving and destruction of old documents to free up storage space. You should be able to use your mobile device to access your company’s documents. The viewing, editing, and sharing of documents should all be possible on mobile devices.
What to look for in a document management system
You should look for a few crucial qualities when selecting a document management system. Discuss your requirements in detail with any sales representatives you speak with, and receive technical specs and pricing in writing. Any document management solution you evaluate should have the following features:
Simple file structure: The system should have an intuitive file structure that users can understand, such as a cabinet-drawer-folder system.
Searching: You want a lot of alternatives for discovering files quickly. You should be able to search for files not only by name, but also by content, last changed date, file type, and other criteria.
Ease of use: Employees should be able to use the system with ease. You won’t have complete buy-in from your workers if it’s too complex, which will disrupt your day-to-day operations and cause confusion.
Mobile access: You want a document management system that allows you to view, modify, and share files from anywhere using your smartphone or tablet.
Integration: The system should be simple to interface with other applications you already use, such as your email client and CRM software. When considering any solution with a sales rep, inquire about open APIs (which allow you to build your own integrations).
Scanner compatibility: The solution should work with a wide range of scanners.
Security: You should be able to limit who has access to specific folders and files using the system. Employees should be able to set their own access permissions.