Document Management System

How to Choose the Right Document Management System

How to Choose the Right Document Management System

As more and more companies, businesses, and organizations want to have paperless offices, managers are turning to Document Management Systems (DMS) or Electronic Document Management (EDM) systems to gain a competitive advantage. A document management system enables organizations to electronically store, retrieve, manage, deliver, and authorize business documents. It also enables the automated capture and verification of purchase invoice data, reducing manual data entry.

Any business that wants to transition to paperless management of documents couldn’t find a more opportune time to switch: these days, the costs of disk storage and other hardware have significantly fallen, while internet connections have improved speeds. Add to that the fact that these systems are easy to use and proven to reduce operating costs and improve efficiency, and it’s no surprise EDMs are getting more and more popular.

However, with so many document management system providers in the market today, choosing the right supplier has become more confusing than actually managing your documents.

The Benefits of a DMS

Experts are unanimous that having a DMS has, in one way or another, helped improve their business’s bottom line. How? An efficient DMS gave them:  

Easy access:  John Bustrum, CEO and founder of, said having software that allows easy access in place means he’s no longer forced to stockpile loads of files on his desk. Instead, when clients call, he can instantly find the documents he needs on his computer.

Easy to search: Being able to easily search through her company’s documents is a huge benefit, said Karen Walker, founder of One Team Consulting. She said the ability to quickly search for and retrieve presentations and notes is invaluable.

Better collaboration: Getting rid of hard copies of documents makes it easy for employees to work with each other, said Gary Tuch, founder of the Professor Egghead Science Academy. When multiple employees are working off of one document and editing is constantly happening, document management systems ensure workers always have the most up-to-date copy, he said. Employees waste no time on printing revisions or double-checking to make sure they have the current version, Tuch added.

Added security: Increased security is a huge advantage of using document management solutions, said Andrew Southard, general manager of the Indiana-based Data Management Shredding, Inc. The technology has given his company the option to track who is viewing and editing each document, and designate which employees have access to which files, he said.

More space: Exchanging paper documents for digital versions can save a tremendous amount of physical space, said Randy Jourgensen, owner of Digital Office Solutions. Since transforming his office to a paperless environment more than 15 years ago, Jourgensen has been able to convert space that was formerly used only for file storage into space that can generate revenue, he said.

Peace of mind: Businesses that have all of their documents stored in physical filing cabinets face the risk that these papers might be destroyed, or that the business may lose access to them should a disaster occur, said Alan Baker, president and chief consultant at Spitfire Innovations. If a water pipe bursts or there is a fire, business owners can still operate with little impact, since their critical documents are stored online and spared from any destruction.

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3 Questions

Before you even begin to shop around for the best DMS for your business, Meghann Wooster in says these are the three questions you need to answer first:

What are your organization’s goals for the document management or ECM implementation?

Answer: This is an important question to answer because you need to know what you want to achieve before you can identify the functionality that your new document management or ECM system must contain. 

Do you want your document management or ECM system to integrate with the other software applications your organization already uses?

Answer: Although document management/ECM can be used as a standalone system, it has the most impact when it can be tied to existing applications, allowing staff to access the document repository through their primary systems.

How much in-house document management expertise do you have, and how much do you need to cultivate?

Answer: A document management system can dramatically improve your organization’s information management and business productivity, but too many systems demand extensive domain expertise from expensive programmers, analysts and consultants. By looking for a system that fosters individual knowledge and expertise through the use of prepackaged code, active developer and support forums, downloadable templates, preconfigured workflow activities and an active user community, organizations eliminate the need to rely on outside experts.

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What to Look for in a DMS

In Business News Daily, three experts in DMS were asked what should businesses look for in a management system. Here’s the gist of their answers:  

File structure: The system should offer an easy-to-use file structure that makes sense to users, such as a cabinet-drawer-folder approach.

Searching: You want a wide range of options for quickly finding files. You should be able to search not only by the file’s name, but also by the content inside the file.

Ease of use: The system should be simple for employees to use. If it is too difficult, you won’t get complete buy-in from the staff, which will make the system less effective.

Mobile access: You want a document management system that is accessible via smartphones and tablets.

Integration: The system should easily integrate with the programs you’re already using, such as your email client and customer relationship management software.

Scanning: The solution should be compatible with a wide variety of scanners.

Security: The system should allow you to restrict who can see specific folders and files. You should be able to set access permissions by employee.-

The advantages of having a DMS or an ECM clearly far outweigh whatever disadvantages it has. However, a lot of careful consideration needs to go into selecting the right document management supplier for your company’s needs and also for those of your customers and clients.

Not all suppliers have the range of applications that fit your needs. But once you find the perfect fit, you will reap all its benefits.


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