Your organisation has decided that implementing an electronic document management system or enterprise content management (ECM) system will help lower costs and increase productivity. However, with so many different ECM and document management systems out there, it can be hard to select the right one for you.
Here are five questions you need to answer before you even begin to look at the document management and ECM systems on the market.
1. What are your organisation’s goals for introducing a document management or ECM system?
This is a very important question. If you don’t know what you need to achieve then it will be very difficult to choose a document management or ECM system with the right functionality for your business. A few of the most common goals include:
- Capture information and automate classification, eliminating the need for manual processing.
- Securely and efficiently search, retrieve, scan, store, email and manage various types of content including electronic and imaged documents, emails and audio-visual files.
- Automate content-related business processes such as accounts payable, contract management or project management.
- Archive records and apply formal retention schedule for compliance requirements.
2. Will the document management or ECM system need to integrate with other software applications that your organisation already uses?
Document management or ECM systems can be standalone systems, but to get the most out of your investment make sure you choose a system that gives you the most compatibility with the widest range of hardware and software platforms. This ensures seamless integration into your business. And it should also give you the flexibility to manage and store documents in the file formats that you choose.
If integration is important to your organisation, ensure that the document management or ECM systems you evaluate have an open architecture and that the vendors have experience with the type of integrations you require.
3. Do you need to deploy and manage the system with your available IT resources?
Unless you are looking to increase your IT staff, be sure to evaluate electronic document management or ECM systems that can be deployed and managed by non-technical personnel. This way, the system can be customised and managed by the employees using the system and you can keep IT staff focused on more business-critical IT initiatives.
4. How scalable do you need the system to be so it can grow with your business?
It is easy to get caught up with finding a solution to only the most obvious problems. For example, your business might initially only need an efficient way to store and retrieve documents so you choose your document management or ECM system based on that. Later on, you might realise it would be even more efficient to electronically automate the routing of documents in your business only to find out that the system you chose isn’t able to create and manage workflows.
Another example is indexing and searching. To start with a company might not understand or be aware of the different indexing and searching methods available. Limited capabilities in this area can reduce productivity and could even prevent you from automating certain processes in the future. It is important to evaluate systems that include multiple indexing options, from manual indexing and full-text search to external database use.
5. How much system training do you want to provide for your average user?
When a business starts looking at document management or ECM systems they can easily become caught up on the back end functions and features. This is important but make sure you consider the user experience. Having a complex system with the best functionality isn't worth much if your employees can’t figure out how to use it or require months of training.
Your employees will have a wide range of technical skill, it's best to keep your document management solution as simple as possible so everyone in your company can benefit from it. This is especially true when it comes to performing basic functions, like saving files to the system and searching and retrieving files from the document repository.
Look for a solution that offers an interface that takes maximum advantage of what users already know, for example, by providing an interface that allows them to access the document repository and other document management features by using the standard applications commands like File, Open, and Save that they already know and use every day. Choose software that includes tutorials and on-screen assistance to help non-technical users get the most out of the system.
Overall, think about your organisations's long-term needs rather than basing your decision solely on current requirements. A lot can change in a business and your document management or ECM system should be robust and flexible enough to keep up with that evolution. Are you ready to learn more? Contact Range Information Systems today for a free consultation.