By Suzanne McCormack

Your document management software is an integral part of the organizational flow of your business. With today’s technology, documentation and information is coming at you from every direction. Employees are gathering work-related information through phone calls and texts. Documents are coming in through mail, email, fax, and your website.

If you’re still using an antiquated, paper-based system, it’s likely that your productivity and efficiency isn’t as high as it could be. Your employees are at a disadvantage having access to all of the information before making important decisions without a good system in place.

Many companies use a bevy of software, cobbled together. They might use standard MS Office programs internally and then manually add information they’ve gleaned from email or text. Depending on the size of your company, this might work to some degree. But it likely leaves a lapse in communication between employees and clients, which can cost you time and money. There is a lack of accountability and tracking which doesn’t help at audit time.

Once you’ve decided to upgrade to document management software, you’ll find that there are a lot of choices on the market. They all offer different benefits and it may be hard to determine which ones will best fit your company. Here are a few key things to keep in mind when making your selection.

Consider Cost

Your initial and continued investment will always be a consideration in purchasing. The costs will vary depending on whether you’re opting for an in-house solution or a cloud-based system. You’ll also want to look closely at the differences in services. The lowest price might not give you all of the features you need and the highest priced might not be appropriate for your business model.

Review Vendor Credentials

You’ll want to read reviews of the company/program and ask for case studies and references from other clients they currently serve. You may also opt to look for vendors who specifically work in your industry. This information will help you determine whether their solution is customizable to better suit your needs.

Confirm Customer Support

Make sure the vendor offers customer support that you can count on. They should be able to offer prompt assistance if something goes wrong or you have an important question or concern with the system. This is especially important as your employees learn the new system. You’ll also want to discuss security features and what they offer to protect your data.

Integrate with Current Systems

Most systems will provide ways to integrate with commonly used programs, but you’ll want to specifically look at the integration techniques for each of your modes of gathering and retaining information. It’s important that you can assess the process as it will work in practice for your staff

Focus on Training and Usability

Look for vendors who offer training and support to make the transition easier. Many document management systems have technical aspects that your staff might not be familiar with initially. It’s important to choose a system that’s usable and where resources are available if staff members have questions. Online access to training documentation and videos can also help immensely with user support and training.

When you’re considering new document management software, the first step is to assess your current process. With a full assessment, you’ll be able to see which tools will be advantageous for your business. You can highlight your priorities, where your process excels and where you need to improve. You should also know your staff, taking into consideration their recommendations and needs in the business process.