Choosing the right document management software can have a huge influence on how your employees create, store, access, and keep track of documents within your company. As we have shown in one of the previous articles, you can get a lot of benefits by utilizing them within your company. But how to choose the right one, and what are the features necessary to achieve the best results?
What Exactly Is Document Management Software Used for?
Before we focus on the most important features, let’s list the most important things DMS are used for:
- Creating and storing different types of documents in your company, including files, spreadsheets, and emails
- Archiving and backing up the data following a preset schedule
- Capturing and importing images
- Tracking modifications that are made to the documents as well as who made them
- Restricting access to certain documents to people who are not authorized
- Protecting your data from unwanted external access and unpredictable disasters (true for a cloud-based software)
- Accessing and editing documents on the go and working remotely
- Searching for documents based on type or keyword
- Collecting documents necessary to comply with local regulations
Assuming that a perfect software should be capable of fulfilling all of the above needs, let’s look into the essentials features that will help you achieve all of the above tasks.
Cloud-based Access from Anywhere
Some people will probably think it’s so obvious, that it’s not even worth mentioning. Unfortunately, when it comes to document management, a lot of companies still underestimate the value of a professional cloud-based solution. Nowadays, cloud storage is not only much less expensive than creating an in-house system, but it provides your employees and stakeholders with remote access to documentation. And your data is protected and backed up regularly.
Integration with Most Commonly Used Systems and Devices
Being able to integrate your DMS with Microsoft suite, CRM, ERP and other key systems within your organization, emails and mobile devices of your employees, can substantially reduce the time that your staff spends uploading, creating and sending documentation. And if the software offers custom-made integrations, the possibilities are endless.
Automated Organization of Documents
Companies create on average thousands of documents that require categorization, tagging, and rating in order to make them easier to find by employees. By having a built-in system that can deal with document classification, you can save a lot of time, and significantly improve the search and retrieval process. The same applies to color-coding, templates (and their auto-populating), and dynamic, multi-tier fields (for example, when a selection of a state automatically narrows down the choice of cities). One last important feature is automated versioning, which protects your documents from being overwritten and your business from wasting resources on editing old, unapproved versions of them.
Professional Search and Retrieval System
Having a document management software makes little sense if you or your employees cannot get easy access to your data quickly and without unnecessary hassle. When you evaluate a potential DMS, check whether it supports bookmark, file-name, and full-text searches, covering the entire repository and how accurate are the search results. The more criteria you can use to narrow the search results down, the easier it will be to find necessary documents. Another beneficial feature of a search engine is the way it shows the results. If your employees can get an understanding of what document they are looking at without having to open it (because they are presented with a snippet that explains to them what a given document is about), you’ve got yourself a winner.
Intuitive User Interface
You can have a software with thousands of features, but if they are hard to find and access, your employees will still be losing a lot of time on a daily basis – and that quickly adds up. By using software that offers a clear interface and is easy to learn how to use and build workflows, without the need for programmers and developers, you can achieve significant savings in the document management process.
Having a software that is simple to manage, gives you one other significant benefit – it’s much easier to implement it, because once your employees understand it, they will be able to educate one another and advocate for the company-wide change. The simplicity of the software has one other important feature that you cannot miss – if you cannot create a PDF and .docx using your chosen system, (which are nowadays considered a standard), you should look for a different solution.
High Level of Security
Every DMS requires top-notch security measures to prevent data leaks and comply with regulations. Moreover, it is critical that it has a transparent, built-in system to manage permissions within the company. You cannot give all employees access to management-only documents, and you should be able to determine different access rights for users. Even better, if the software is capable of creating automated security rules based on categories or tags. Another important safety feature is the support for the SSL certificates and strong encryption measures of incoming and outgoing communication. Security equals control, which is necessary when dealing with confidential company documents.
Scalability (Possibly Unlimited – It’s the Cloud)
If you are slowly transitioning from a paper-based document management system onto a software, you may not require hundreds or thousands of employees connected to the system right away. But, as the time goes by and your company grows, you may need to give access, not to hundreds but thousands of users. If the system is not scalable and cannot cope with storing millions of documents that arise over time, it’s not worth investing in.
Help & Support to Answer All Your Questions Quickly
Even if the software has all the full-blown features and offers everything you could imagine, without the right support of people who can answer your questions quickly, your employees might be unable to use some of its features when really needed. That’s why, you should evaluate whether the company’s support is based on static information, such as access to white papers, data sheets, and manuals or is it real-time and includes email, phone, and live chat to assist you in times of trouble.
Of course, the above list comprises of the most basic features that should be included in every software that calls itself a DMS. A full list of specific capabilities of top document management software would take a lot more than the space we have available here. If you’d like to learn more about choosing the right software, go ahead and give us a call or write us an email – we would love to find out more about the needs of your business and help you choose the right solution to meet them.