The decision to go with a Document Management System (DMS) is both simple and complex. It’s simple because you know you have a problem to solve, and that document imaging software is the key to solving it.
Here are some of the most common problems a DMS can solve:
- Having to file and index papers manually
- Sending incessant follow-up emails for approvals
- Repetitive data entry in multiple systems
- Constant back and forth of documents, without knowing which version is the most updated
- The feeling that you can’t overcome busywork
Now, that’s just the easy part. The complex part is choosing which DMS to invest in. What is the best DMS for your business? Once you implement a system, it will be woven into the lifeblood of your company as an integral part of each department’s processes, so you better choose a good one.
You don’t want to end up in the common pitfall of having a great idea and implementing the wrong solution to your problem.
In this post, we’re going to outline how to make sure you’re getting the right system for your needs.
First, here’s what NOT to get:
SharePoint – It may be tempting to use what you already have or what you’re already familiar with, especially if it feels like you’re getting a free document management solution out of a system you already have. You’re right – there are some good things about SharePoint, but here are some of Sharepoint’s downfalls when it comes to its document repository functionality:
1. No process improvement expertise
One of the benefits that comes along with selecting a Document Management solution is business process consulting. When you select a software vendor, one of the first steps they will take is examining your processes and determining how they can best be adapted to the Document Management System, which may also include a workflow solution. This is a great opportunity for your business processes to undergo a facelift. After all, if we’re honest about our business processes, we can all admit that they’re not always the best way to do things. Sometimes, our way of operating is more the result of someone else’s idea from many years ago, rather than the most efficient set of steps needed to get the job done.
When you decide to use SharePoint as a file storage system, you miss out on this very important piece. Generally, processes stay the same as they’ve always been. It takes just as long to complete your tasks, and work remains just as needlessly tedious as ever. Your business misses the opportunity to have fresh life breathed into its dated processes.
2. File storage limits
SharePoint puts a critical limitation on file storage. For any folder you create, you can only store 5,000 documents within it. This means that the organizational structure you set up may work just fine in the beginning, but it can quickly become inadequate, forcing you to make adjustments and create a series of subfolders to accommodate all of your documentation.
Compare this to a scalable Document Management System, which is built to support your company’s growth. In fact, DocuPhase allows large-scale organizations to store their files on multiple servers if their volume is high enough to warrant it. Regardless of where the documents are stored, they are still all available through one centralized browser-based repository.
Don’t allow this limitation within SharePoint to rob your business of a well-organized, scalable file storage system.
3. Heavy administrative requirements
If your company is going to use SharePoint, you will need an internal expert – someone who will take the time to learn how to create everything you will need and to maintain the system. In fact, companies that use SharePoint generally have a full time SharePoint administrator on staff. It is a labor-intensive system to use, and it’s easy for things to become disorganized.
Alternatively, a Document Management solution can be set up for you by the software vendor – someone with experience and expertise. While you will want to have someone on your staff who is cross-trained and can do some basic troubleshooting, the bulk of the support will be handled through your maintenance contract. If something breaks, the vendor can fix it for you. If changes need to be made, you will have the option of hiring the software vendor for consultation and to make technical adjustments.
4. Lacking duplication & version control
In some ways, SharePoint is a good platform for collaboration with your team. Surely, it can offer more than a traditional file share. Still, it falls short of what a Document Management System can offer. Document Management software should include a revision control feature, which allows users to check out a document, make edits to it, and then check it back in as a new version (or revision). Further, users should have the option to view previous versions and to promote previous revisions when appropriate.
When you don’t have this kind of functionality, you can end up with duplicate documents, and you can also find yourself spinning your wheels, doing the same work someone else has already done. Again, this downfall shows how the organization you will get with SharePoint is not as robust as that of a true Document Management System.
5. People don’t like it
In business, as in life, resistance to change is par for the course. While some people are excited for new opportunities, others loathe being forced to adjust to new standards and expectations. When a manager makes a decision about file storage, the bottom line is a very important consideration, but so is the solution’s level of adoptability.
A quick internet search will reveal that many SharePoint users simply do not like it. In fact, there are some surprisingly profane hashtags on Twitter that express this distaste. And when users don’t like something… they quickly cease to be users, choosing instead to store their files as paper copies or within the file shares they were accustomed to.
On the other hand, a business manager that chooses a Document Management solution with a sleek, intuitive interface can expect that his or her team will be more amenable to the change. Before choosing a document storage option, a business leader should check out the interface his or her team will be working within and determine how adoptable it is.
For more details on Sharepoint, check out our blog post, 5 Reasons Your Business Needs Document Management Beyond Sharepoint.
GP’s DocAttach – Undoubtedly, Microsoft GP is an agile application that enables many businesses to do better and more efficient accounting. It makes accounting teams more productive, which is a win for everyone! In 2013, GP introduced the DocAttach feature, which helped businesses work with GP’s Web Client and attach documents to designated transactions. This new functionality made it easier to associate documents without searching for all of them at once.
That said, DocAttach is only the tip of the document management iceberg. If you’re already using GP, it may be tempting to turn to DocAttach for all of your document management needs, but these are the reasons why attaching a document to your current accounting software is really not an adequate or useful form of DM in the long run:
1. No automation capabilities
It’s a problem when your team members don’t have access to everything they need. This lack of access can cause bottlenecks in your processes. When you do everything manually, things fall between the cracks, documents get lost, and processes get backed up. Surely this is part of the reason why you’re looking for a Document Management solution in the first place. While DocAttach helps you attach documents related to your AP processes, there’s a better way to file and archive documents!
If you’re looking to automate your AP processes where possible, you’re going to have to look beyond DocAttach to the type of EAP (Enterprise Automation Platform) that allows for business process automation along with Document Management. A good EAP will allow you to integrate with your GP database and automate document routing, threshold-based approvals, data entry and synchronization, 3-way matching, GL coding, and more.
2. Always waiting for upgrades
You know the deal - With Dynamics GP, you must let the clock tick and wait until the next round of upgrades/updates are made available. That one big problem you have with paying an invoice? You’ll have to take that extra step every single time until a new release is out.
Having a document management software vendor can cater to your business and provide ongoing, steady support when you need it. Professional services teams are available to create customized solutions for you as you need them. As needed, your solution can be enhanced and expanded to other teams, processes, and departments.
3. Lacking meaningful analytics
It’s one thing to juggle paperwork and invoices, but it’s an entirely different matter when you can zoom out and actually see how your process is working (or not working). Getting access to customized dashboards allows you and your team to monitor and evaluate business decisions, so you can make the best adjustments possible in near real-time.
This far exceeds the capability of DocAttach because you’ll be able to immediately notice if there’s a delay or issue in your overall AP process. By having a document management system, you can capitalize on the aforementioned robust analytics and keep an eye on everything – not just invoices.
4. Security issues
Most files with DocAttach are housed within GP as part of SQL, so you’ll never have to worry about the security of your files.
That said, a dedicated Document Management System can set permissions for each user on what files they can and cannot access. This simplifies the steps involved to mitigate issues of someone not having access vs. having access to something a teammate isn’t supposed to see.
Within a DMS like DocuPhase, you can create user groups, based on team membership or job function, and add your team members to the proper groups that will allow them the combination of access they will need. Once the groups are set up, it’s simple to add new users with the proper access.
5. Nothing to offer to departments outside of accounting
Maybe you’ve identified that you have document storage needs within the accounting department already, but have you considered that every other department within your organization is going to have storage needs as well. Think about how much paperwork the HR department deals with on a daily basis – everything from payroll records to benefits, hiring paperwork, termination paperwork, and more. Using DocAttach solves the documentation problem for the accounting department, but when it comes to the rest of your organization, it falls short, leaving everyone else drowning in paper.
Instead, select document imaging software that your entire company can benefit from. That way, all of your documents and data, companywide, are stored in one central, secure document repository.
For more details on selecting document scanning software for accounting and beyond, see our blog post, 4 Reasons to Get Document Management Beyond DocAttach.
So what IS the right choice?
We’ve told you what NOT to choose, but we haven’t gotten into the good features that you can get with a Document Management solution. When shopping for the best DMS for your organization, ask yourself these 5 questions:
1. Is it adoptable?
In a perfect world, your team would excitedly adopt whatever software you chose. In the real world, sometimes it’s a tough sell. For this reason, it’s important to select document management software that has a simple, user-friendly interface. For example, with DocuPhase’s newest viewer, users can drag & drop documents from their desktop directly into the document management system. With iLink, users of Microsoft Dynamics can click an add-on button within MS Dynamics GP and pull up related documentation from the documentation management system. This single click can save team members a sizable amount of time! Features like this help to increase the adoptability and help to get your team excited about the change.
2. Can it be controlled and customized?
This is an important question if you don’t want to become dependent upon your document management software provider. Out-of-the-box solutions can be useful, but consider how you will make changes once the document management software has been implement. A year down the road, you may want to change the name of a document or the way things are sorted or organized. Maybe you’re able to determine that making a simple change can radically improve your process. Will you be able to self-educate and make that change yourself, or will you be required to pay for each change?
3. Is it secure?
In other words, you’ll want to determine to what degree the document management system will allow you to control who can view certain documents. Security is especially important if you operate within the healthcare industry, or if you’re going to be storing personnel files within the document management system. For example, consider HIPAA compliance regulations. A highly customizable document management system like DocuPhase will allow you to store various types of documentation and will allow you drill down settings, easily determining which groups within your organization can view each type of document.
4. Can it integrate with other software?
As a business in the 21st Century, you’re already running many other programs. It’s worth taking a look at the integrations offered by various document management solutions. For example, is the document management software compatible with Microsoft Office documents? On another note, some document management software companies also develop workflow automation software, which can become a natural next step once your team has adopted the document management platform. While this may not be your short-term plan, consider the long-term possibilities for your organization. You may thank yourself later for having this foresight while selecting document management software.
5. Is it going to save the company money?
For most organizations, this is the most important question to ask when selecting document management software. What is the return on investment? How long is it going to take to see that ROI? A consultative, low-pressure sales team can help you examine whether and how their document management solution can help your organization. This can help you to present concrete evidence to your decision-making team when the time comes to decide on a purchase.
Want more help with your Document Management purchasing journey? Download our free whitepaper, Document Management Buyer’s Kit!