By Lauren Ford

Document management solutions offer a streamlined way to manage everyday organizational difficulties. With so many different platforms available to further business, one cohesive document management system allows for better internal and external communication. There are many benefits to a good document management software. But what do you need to know in order to choose the right vendor?

When researching systems, you’ll want to look closely at your current protocol. How do you store, save and organize your documentation? Are there areas where mistakes are being made? Are there noticeable issues in internal communication?

How to Assess Your Current Workflow and Document Management Solution

Before you determine which system to invest in, you’ll want a good understanding of your objectives. What problems are you trying to solve? After all, you can’t reach a goal that you haven’t yet set.

If you don’t have the process for your documentation written out, that would be the ideal way to begin. To get an accurate assessment of the protocols you currently use, ask staff members to write down their processes. In compiling this information, you’ll get a clear picture of how documentation is handled throughout the company.

In smaller or medium-sized companies, there may be no set protocol. This in itself can be an issue. If every employee handles the job their own way, it’s more difficult to assess current projects when one employee is absent. It’s also harder to train employees for their position.

Another option is contracting a company to provide you with an assessment of your current process. This type of service will pinpoint all of the areas that can be improved by a document management solution. They may also be able to give you tips on areas where automation would prove valuable to increase efficiency and decrease errors.

What Should You Look for in a Document Management Solution or Vendor?

Once you’ve completed an analysis of how your current system works, you’ll have a good idea of the types of issues you need to solve. Take this information into consideration in your research.

Here are some important considerations when researching different vendors and systems:

  • Cost. Expense will always be a consideration. However, the cheapest solution isn’t always the best (and neither is the most expensive). A cloud-based solution, where there’s a lower initial investment, might be optimal. These solutions have no need for in-house servers or hardware. For some businesses, having an in-house system makes more sense even though the initial investment will be greater.
  • Usability. Usability is a key variable in the success of your document management system implementation. If the system is too technical, employees may have more difficulty learning to use it. The investment won’t pay off if the protocol isn’t followed throughout your organization.
  • Customer Support. No matter what system you choose, make certain that the vendor offers good customer support. This might include training sessions, on-call technical support and comprehensive training materials for staff. Many companies offer webinars and manuals as well.
  • Proven Effectiveness. While all sales material will include glowing recommendations for the software, you want to research the proven results. This might include case studies or a list of current customers you can contact for reference.
  • Integration with Current Systems. Research how well the software works with the different systems and software your business uses routinely. With a document management system, you might want to research how well the system works with your current printer, fax, scanner and email systems.
  • Efficiency in Specific Industries. Some vendors specialize in specific industries, and that can be a good indication that the system will work well for your needs. You should also consider how well document management systems adhere to regulatory compliance for your industry.

Choosing a system will mean doing adequate research. You’ll want to fully understand your current needs. Reading reviews of products and seeing how well the system has worked for current clients can also help you find the best solution for your business.