How to choose the right document management solution

Document management systems (DMS) can seem complex and daunting. Most companies, however, depend on DMS to become more efficient, and secure and drive better business outcomes — even if they don’t realize the full potential.

“We’ve found many companies stuck on old versions or not even using document management,” says Stephan J. Cico, managing director of All Covered Pittsburgh, IT services from Konica Minolta.

Even the name document management leaves people with questions like: What’s the difference between document management and content management? Doesn’t Microsoft Office already track revisions? Can’t you use Windows to search inside your documents? Is it time to upgrade, or change to a new solution? And if so, after seeing dozens of tools, how do you choose?

Smart Business spoke with Cico about the ins and outs of DMS.

Why use a DMS?

Most current DMS have complex, robust searching. Some DMS use structured query language to run complicated queries quickly and easily, or in layman’s terms, it makes searching through millions of pieces of content as easy and simple as a Google search. About 80 percent of companies use DMS, so if you’re in the remaining 20 percent, it’s past time to consider it.

How can businesses narrow their choices?

First, consider if your company generates a lot of content daily. Some DMS can process a large number of documents more efficiently than others and require a separate server for indexing. If you receive content from your clients, some of it needs to be imported into your DMS, which can affect your choice. The type of company you run also matters. If you’re producing large size and/or large volumes of content, some DMS options will work better.

If you need to process large quantities of paper documents, you may want DMS that integrate with a multi-function printer. If your company works with a records management system, depending on which system and the number of records you store, some DMS will handle your workload better. Also, consider whether you need to share files with clients or outside counsel.

How are DMS and mobile integrating?

As more employees adopt mobile technology for tasks, more DMS have become mobile friendly. Three major DMS, iManage, NetDocuments and Worldox, manage employees’ content while allowing them to access content through their mobile devices. The availability and performance between the solutions, however, differs. To make an informed decision, you have to know how important mobile use is to your company.

What other features are important?

There are a number of specific features that only some DMS can offer:

  • Auto profiling simplifies storage and allows for detailed searches.
  • Matter centricity allows for a consistent workflow between people, processes and numerous applications within a company.
  • Application integrations. Companies may need to custom integrate their solution to other applications, and some DMS will integrate more smoothly than others.
  • Auto naming. File naming conventions can vastly vary. Instead of trying to force an implanted file naming policy, some DMS do this automatically.
  • Customizable interfaces and workflows. Some DMS allow for more customization and/or integration with other software, such as practice management or time and billing solutions. Also, if you’re upgrading from older DMS or file storage solution, you need a solution that will handle this properly.

How does budget factor in?

While some companies have little to no issue with large capital expenditures, others need to minimize expenses as much as possible. Some DMS require a much larger initial investment; others, such as cloud-based DMS, are designed or intended for use in companies of various sizes.

Even with all the different factors that can contribute to determining which solution is ideal, the decision still isn’t an easy one. That’s why it’s critical to have the right technology expert at your side.

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