How to choose a Document Management Software?
When it comes to choosing a document management software for your business, we’re sure you have many options. They may all look the same and claim to do the same things — help you manage documents, minimize the need for paper documents, and improve overall office efficiency.
But, not all document management systems are created equal. Some may be better suited to your business than others. Some may have features that are valuable to your specific industry and your business functions while others may not be of much use to you.
For instance, the ability to maintain an audit trail may be valuable for finance and legal departments but may not be very important for other functions like, say, customer service.
Similarly, the ability to secure documents may be necessary for functions like marketing and customer relationship but may not be of as much importance for inventory management personnel, where workflow automation is more valuable.
However, there are a few non-negotiable factors that you must consider before deciding on a document management solution for your business. You must ensure that any application you are planning to get for your business should have these elements so that it can fulfill all your existing as well as future document management needs.
Document Management Software features
The chief purpose of any document management system is to offer features that can make the process of managing documents simpler. This means having features that allow you to easily file, arrange, find, retrieve, share, and secure documents. Following are a few features that your application should surely possess:
Your document management system must give you the option to organize documents in multiple ways. The main benefit of using such a tool is that it enables you to organize a large number of documents using multiple ways of differentiating and grouping them.
The most common way of classifying documents that most applications provide is the use of folders and tags. Related documents can be stored together in folders. The software should also enable users to add multiple tags to documents that give more information about the contents of these documents. Using different combinations of tags for different documents can enable you to find specific documents easily when needed.
For instance, an outstanding invoice that you generated for a client named XYZ Inc. in December 2018 can be in a folder called XYZ Inc and can be assigned tags such as ‘invoice’, ‘unpaid’, ‘December 2018’, etc. to enable you to find this invoice easily, whenever you may need it.
Additionally, a good document management software should also give users the ability to define and use multiple document types. If you use a particular kind of document frequently, you can define it as a document type.
For instance, if you run a corporate law firm dealing with different contracts on a regular basis, you can define “Contract” as a document type. This will enable you to separate contracts from other documents. You can give these contracts specific metadata fields as per your needs, to describe and differentiate these documents without having to open them. For example, contracts can have metadata like “Valid till”, “Signed on”, “Signed by”, etc. This can help in finding and sorting the contract documents using such pieces of information if needed.
Sometimes, despite using folders and tags, users cannot classify documents well enough. In such cases, you might need an additional layer of classification. For instance, using GLOBODOX, users can not only use folders, tags, and document types to differentiate between documents but also use “Stacks” to group together documents sharing common attributes.
For instance, if you own a construction firm, you can create a stack type named “Project” Now you can create a stack for every building project that you have worked on or are working on. You can give the project stack metadata fields like ‘Project start date’, ‘Location’, ‘Client name’, ‘Project status’, etc., to get more information about the project without having to search through different documents for such information.
Document management applications that provide the ability to classify documents using multiple methods such as folders, tags, document types, and stacks automatically offer greater searchability than applications that give limited options for document organization. Thus, businesses should look for solutions that enable users to search for documents easily through better organization.
These tools should also allow users to filter search results based on multiple criteria. These criteria refer to the different document-specific details stored in the form of metadata. For instance, a user should be able to search for invoices generated between two specific dates using the search function of their document management software. They can do it simply by specifying the document type, the criteria for sorting (the ‘created on’ date), and specifying the range of dates. These features help businesses find the documents and the information they need quickly and with minimal effort. These features will enable businesses and their employees to focus on their core tasks and functions without having to waste too much time finding documents.
While it is important to ensure that documents are easily searchable and accessible to those who need them, this accessibility should be limited for those who are not authorized by the organization. And thus, to protect sensitive documents from being accessed by irrelevant and unauthorized personnel, document management software should have robust yet flexible security mechanisms. They should allow varying levels of access to different people based on their role in the organization and level of involvement in specific functions.
For instance, a human resources manager should be able to view all the personal documents of the employees, while other employees must have no access to such documents for ethical as well as legal purposes. However, an employee must be able to access all the documents related to herself. To enable such flexibility in document security, your document management software must be able to offer multiple levels of access to different users based on their relevance to the documents.
Documents are not only used as a way of storing information in an organization but also sharing this information with different members of the businesses to get things done. And to get things done, documents are often passed to different people in a standardized, repeatable sequence known as workflows. Any document management tool that you consider for purchasing for your business should offer you the ability to create and automatically execute custom workflows. This will enable your organization to automate all routine and reproduce workflows to maximize operational efficiency.
For instance, the human resources department of any business can automate the process of hiring new employees using a custom workflow. The process can automatically route candidates’ applications, accompanied by all the supporting documents to all the personnel involved in the hiring process. It can follow a standardized sequence that moves forward by gaining approval at each stage. These workflows can also emulate voting and consensus mechanisms where the application can only be forwarded if a majority of the personnel at a certain stage approve the candidates. This eliminates the need for paper document-based workflows where each step takes too long to complete due to the need for manually sharing documents, which is inefficient for employers and frustrating for candidates.
Easy to use document management system
In addition to having the aforementioned features, a document management system should also be easy to set up and use. Having an application that has all the functionality you need but is hard to use can be counterproductive, as many users will be reluctant to use the software leading to them using persisting with old, inefficient document management practices. You should, therefore, verify the following after you’ve ascertained the features to be as per your requirements.
The out-of-the-box readiness
The application must be ready to be used as soon as you purchase it, without requiring extensive setup procedures and trial runs. Your system administrator must find the application easy to set up and run. They should also be able to add users to the application quickly so that the entire organization can start using it immediately.
Businesses should look for document managers that offer active directory integration which enables administrators to add all the users in the organization in one go, saving time and effort. Without active directory integration, system administers may need to individually add all the users to the document management application, which, depending on the total number of users may take a lot of time and effort.
In addition to being ready to be installed and configured quickly, a document management system should also have a user interface that users are familiar with. A simple interface that makes it easy for even the least tech-savvy person to understand will ensure that the application is adopted throughout the organization by all users. This will not only ensure that your organization hits the ground running with electronic document management but also save you time and money that would be otherwise spent on training your employees.
Using an application that is hard to use, regardless of how many desirable features it may have can lead to limited adoption. This will not only mean that your investment is wasted but also that won’t be able to enjoy the benefits of electronic document management.
It is often the case that businesses already use a number of software applications (e.g., a CRM application), and need electronic document management solutions that can integrate and work well with those tools. To find such applications, businesses must ensure that the document management tools that they’re investing in offer application programming interfaces (API) and software development kits (SDK) which can allow them to integrate with existing software.
Choosing document management tools with the right amount of functionality and compatibility with other applications can ensure that these applications not only support each other but also enhance them to provide you with added benefits. For instance, you can use your document management tool (if it has an API) as a secure repository of customer-related documents which can be accessed from your CRM application. Or, you can integrate your document management application with your accounting or bookkeeping software. This will allow you to automatically file the day-end or month-end accounting reports generated by the accounting software with the requisite metadata.
Document Management Software with excellent customer service
Finally, a document management software should come with excellent customer support and service from the vendor. Businesses seeking to implement document management tools must ensure that the software vendor offers top-notch, reliable customer service. That’s because, even though a document management software may not be very hard to implement and use, businesses may face certain issues while attempting to adapt the solution to their unique requirements. And that’s where dedicated customer service comes into play. While evaluating the quality of customer service that comes with your software solution, the following should be considered:
Since issues and queries in implementation may arise at any moment and require resolution immediately, it is important to ensure that the vendor offers high quality customer support. They should be available at all times to solve any queries regarding the operation of the document management software.
Upgrades and updates
Businesses should consider vendors that offer discounts on upgrades. In fact, certain document management software like GLOBODOX come with a year of free support and upgrades for their customers, ensuring that customers get the maximum value for their investment.
In addition to being available all the time through phone or email, businesses must be able to troubleshoot problems or offer hands-on guidance on software usage to customers. They must be able to do so either through onsite support or remote-desktop support for effective query resolution. This will ensure the uninterrupted operation of your document management system, and hence the undisrupted functioning of your business processes.
If you’re looking for a document management application that satisfies all the above requirements, then you should definitely give GLOBODOX a try. GLOBODOX is a powerful document management software that is preferred by both businesses as well as government organizations for its best-in-industry features and unparalleled ease of use. Combining high functionality with high simplicity, GLOBODOX can be the one-stop solution for all your document management needs. Go ahead and give GLOBODOX’s full version a try, free for a whole month.