Let’s implement a document management system… but what kind?
The most important questions we need to ask ourselves before we choose an electronic document management system…
Before we choose a document management solution for the structured organization of our company’s documents we have to ask ourselves two very important questions:
- What expectations do we have from the software?
- What requirements does the supplier of the software have to fulfill?
Since the document management practice of every company is different, document management system retailer companies often face unique developmental needs. If we examine the issues from the software’s side we need to know that each solution has different knowledge, their certain functions can be stronger or sometimes weaker. Something may be good for one company, but may not be suitable for another one. So, the legitimate question arises: “I wonder which one knows the things I need?”
There are several points for consideration based on which you can compare the knowledge of different systems and be quickly informed whether you are looking at the right kind of software or you may have to choose another developer company’s solution.
Let’s see what are the things you have to pay attention to so it would be easier for you to make a decision concerning the purchase:
1. Uniform storage of documents coming in on different data media: before selecting a document management system make sure you check exactly through what kind of data media (paper, e-mail, fax, file) can the system receive and store information.
2. Marking document connections: An offer request is followed by an order form or a contract; later on we will receive or make out a waybill or a certificate of performance and there is always an invoice that belongs to the procedure. It makes our work easier if a list of all the documents in a procedure are accessible by your colleagues and the connection is clearly marked between documents that belong together.
3. Administration of internal documents: find out if the document management software handles the administration of internal documents such as the evaluation and approval of a contract within the company, internal communication that has to be retrievable even for several years back in the document management system.
4. Parameter based search: we do not only have to pay attention that we would be able to store our documents securely, but also how we can search among the documents. Our daily operational tasks can become troublesome if we cannot retrieve an important invoice or contract within a couple of moments. A good software makes it possible to search for documents as well as for tasks based on all the parameters of the procedure and you should also be able to define retrievals in advance.
5. Deadline management: life becomes increasingly easier when our document management system automatically notifies us about critical deadlines. It is a very useful function with its help you may avoid official fines, there will not be any more missed business opportunities, or offers submitted too late. We can set document deadlines (for example: invoice or contract expiration or renewal, etc.); we can also link special deadlines to the participants of workflows for the completion of the given workflow.
6. Exportability of retrieved lists: should you need any kind of information or list for your work it is important that data would be exportable from the document management system.
7. Contract and invoice registry: in our company’s life the two most important kinds of documents are invoices and contracts. It makes work much easier if these are stored in a structured, retrievable way. That is why it is so important to examine whether the software guarantees the registry of invoices and contracts.
8. Authorization management: the existence of the authorization policy is crucial since the security of our documents depends on it. A good software makes it possible to assign parameters to authorizations according to organizational units as well as users so, you do not have to worry that your documents would end up in the wrong hands. Please pay special attention to authorization management!
9. Task management: tracking a large number of tasks given out and keeping an eye on deadlines and performance can pose a challenge to leaders. The greater the size of the company the greater is the responsibility. Why shouldn’t we take advantage of the possibilities provided by information technology to make executive tasks easier and choose a software with which we can distribute tasks while supporting collaboration.
10. Unique functions: it seems to be just a little plus, but having such functions as a registry of partners and predictive text input (for example when typing an e-mail address after a couple of characters the system offers the address) they make everyday work easier and faster.
11. Managing document types: the more different types of documents the document management software can handle the less inconvenience your colleagues will encounter when they use the system. Ask which types of documents can the system manage (eg.: Word, Excel, PDF, TIF, etc.).
12. Electronic signature: Even if you do not wish to introduce electronic signatures at your company it is still worth to take it into consideration when you make your decision whether there is one. You never how needs will change two years from now maybe you will want to palce an electronic signature on your PDF documents or web-based forms.
Questions about the supplier:
13. Guarantee: does the system come with at least 1 year guarantee?
14. Number of references: the more references the company dealing with the implementation of document management systems has, the more certain you can be that you have trusted the right company with document management tasks.
15. Expert support: find out whether the company has ample expert resources perhaps immediate product support maybe even for long years continuously. For the sake of your company’s success choose a company that has long-term experience in the field of document management. Do not take a risk; your company’s success is at stake.
16. Support: once the implementation of the software is completed, questions and problems may arise during operation for which you will probably need an immediate answer and solution. This is why it is important that the company would have a local support team and it is also important to find out how much time it takes on average to get an answer or a solution from the product support department. If you made the right choice, this time can be less than 20 minutes...
If you take the above points into consideration it can help you prepare your decision, but your company’s present document management practices need to be examined as well (document management audit), and you should trust well informed experts with that.