When the file cabinets loom in the corners and desks overflow with paper forms, it’s definitely time to look for a document management system — but be careful. Many organizations make costly mistakes when choosing a platform and vendor. After a little time passes, what you thought was a complete solution may turn out to not solve enough of your organization’s document issues.
These mistakes are easy to avoid, once you know how to identify them. Watch out for these five common mistakes:
- Difficulty defining goals for document management: When people start planning to implement a document management system, many haven’t thought through what they want to accomplish — and that increases the risk of choosing a less-than-ideal vendor. It’s a good idea to take the time to define a few basics, including which departments the system is primarily intended for, the document types your company handles and the specific business processes you’re aiming to improve. This lack of definition makes it difficult to select the right vendor.
- Confusing basic document storage and document management: These terms sound similar, but mixing them up could lead to problems. Many organizations already have ways of storing their documents in a central place, whether it’s a company server or cloud-based storage space. But having everything stored in one place doesn’t mean your employees won’t waste time searching for documents. Document management includes that basic storage function, but goes far beyond it, with powerful indexing capabilities that store documents in a structured way.Having the possibility to find all documents relevant for one business process is where you find the value of enterprise content management (ECM) systems in general. Having your documents organized in a central repository is the foundation, allowing you to integrate document management into your existing applications and manage your workflows and business processes.
- A limited perspective on how to use document management: When people lack a comprehensive understanding of what’s possible with a document management system, they tend to look for a solution to only the most obvious problems. Perhaps your company only has a pressing need for an efficient way to store and retrieve documents. Later on, you might realize the efficiency gains you’d make by also electronically routing these documents through the organization, only to discover that the ECM software you chose doesn’t have what you need to create and manage a digital workflow. Another example is indexing. Early on, a company might not be aware of different indexing methods available, or become fixated on only one approach. A limited indexing capability could prevent you from being able to automate certain processes down the road. That’s why it’s important to choose a platform that includes multiple indexing options, from manual indexing and full-text search to external database use.
- Overlooking the total cost of ownership: This mistake is common to a variety of IT projects. Try not to mistake the initial purchase price for the total cost of ownership. Look into the future and figure out what you’ll spend on training your employees, configuring the system, and providing support and maintenance. As with any investment, taking the long view is essential to making good choices.
- Forgetting about the user experience: When companies start looking at document management software,they may initially focus on the back end and overall functions and features. Instead, they should be asking, “How well would this system work for our average user?” Having the best functionality isn’t worth much if half of the people on your team can’t figure out how to use it. Keep in mind that document management is a cross-platform application that everyone should be able to use. To get the most from document management, it needs to be usable for everybody, from accountants to engineers to factory workers.
Overall, many of these mistakes come from making a decision based on current requirements, rather than thinking about your organization’s long-term needs. A lot could change in your company, and your document management system should be robust and flexible enough to keep up with that evolution.
For more detailed information on how we can build a customized Enterprise Content Management Solution to help meet your specific business needs, contact Jim Dudley, Business Development Manager for KeeFORCE at (270) 366-0553.