3 Things to Avoid in a Document Management System
According to Dan Waldinger, director of marketing in solutions and services at Brother Machine Group, most small businesses don't have the time, tech resources, or money to invest in complex document management systems.
"Small businesses should look for a document management system that's user friendly, accessible from multiple operating systems and requires minimal training," Waldinger said. He offered this three-point checklist of things to avoid in a document management system.
Rigidity: SMBs may require anything from a simple out-of-the-box solution to a customized solution. It's important that whatever provider they buy from understands their specific needs and acts more as a business partner than vendor.
Extensive Hardware Requirements: A 100 percent Web-based system minimizes costs because the provider manages the hardware required to facilitate the service.
"It's not always easy for buyers to recognize the 'perfect' DMS for their business—especially if they are new to document management," Waldinger said. "It's important that the vendor offers clear breakdowns of their packages and a solution's capabilities."
He added that vendors should give buyers the opportunity to meet with a subject-matter expert to discuss their specific business needs. "This ensures that buyers receive the attention they need to find their 'perfect' solution."
7 Top Document Management Systems
As the experts above pointed out, there is no perfect, one-size-fits-all document management system. The thing that makes any given system perfect is whether it does the exact tasks you need it to do. In other words, the job defines the tool you need. Even so, here are seven top candidates for your consideration.
Creating documents in Microsoft Office 365 and then storing them in the cloud provided by Microsoft provides a good means for small businesses to manage documents. "Office 365's pricing and ease of administration puts the enterprise features you find in SharePoint within reach of small businesses," says Chris Hornbecker, CEO/founder of XGILITY, a design, development, deployment and training firm on Microsoft SharePoint Collaboration & Workflow Solutions. "The features offered by SharePoint in the cloud are very compelling for businesses with more than 10 users."
OfficeGemini Document Management (Dokmee)
This software provides a secure and complete system that is affordable for most small businesses.
A relatively easy to use content management system, PaperVision works well with Microsoft Office—the document creation software used by most small businesses. It offers intelligent search and flexible security controls, too.
This software offers a complete system with rich features that small businesses with multiple users will find helpful, such as simultaneous access to the same document.
This Explorer-based software lets you quickly scan, organize, search and view documents stored on your hard drive or file servers. It also lets you use your existing folder and filing system to find, view and annotate documents.
Open Source Document Management Alternatives
"I encourage SMBs to take a look at Nuxeo and Alfresco as good options for open-source document management. They are cost-effective and provide a broad range of functionality and flexibility," says DPCI's Joe Bachana.
The Hardware Side of Document Management
Don't forget that document management printers, scanners and multifunction devices (MFDs) may be able to handle much of your document management needs, especially when coupled with document management software from the same manufacturer. You'll find many good machines and accompanying software available from the likes of Xerox, HP, Epson, and other big brand names.
Such devices are the easiest means with which to convert paper documents to digital files. As to which brand and model is best for you, consider these four tips from Wes Gard, president of G4Advisors.
1. Know your needs. How many prints do you produce each month? How much toner—and how many types—do you purchase? Without an assessment of where you are today, everything else is just a guess.
2. What technology do you use or plan to use? Do you want to go paperless? Does your industry require physical documents? Do you currently have OCR capabilities or needs? Depending upon what type of business you're in, document production needs are dropping drastically with the rise of tablets, on-line meetings, eSignatures and a plethora of other tech tools.
3. Look at your office printer needs and who produces the most documents. Where is your equipment located in your office environment? Does everyone have a desk printer? With the exception of HR and a few key executives, private production devices contribute to needless expense. We have seen companies where costs were 400 percent higher per print than companies with the same production volume but had strategically placed equipment.
4. Determine the size and speed of the printers for your solution. Every piece of equipment in common areas should have print/copy/scan capabilities. By knowing the information in the first three steps, any organization can reduce its costs by 20 percent or more before it's time to begin the printer purchase process.
Remember, the document management tools you pick should fit the job you need done. KKnow what your end goal is before you invest in any of these options. That's the only way to get what you really need.
Pam Baker has written for numerous leading publications including, Institutional Investor magazine, CIO.com, NetworkWorld, ComputerWorld, IT World, Linux World, Internet News, E-Commerce Times, LinuxInsider, CIO Today Magazine, NPTech News (nonprofits), MedTech Journal, I Six Sigma magazine, Computer Sweden, the NY Times, and Knight-Ridder/McClatchy newspapers.
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