For the majority of companies, going paperless is no longer a future goal but a current reality. Documents now start out electronically; older records have been converted and the daily deluge of paper is scanned or copied electronically. Companies also offer employees a far greater number of working options. You may work from a regional hub, telecommute, or routinely access records on your phone or tablet.
You can better manage this myriad of modern work arrangements, while accelerating productivity, by investing in a document management system. Such software gives employees everywhere access to a well-organized and secure document repository. It also provides robust workflow modules that help your organization run smoothly, even if you manage a traditional office.
As companies grow and more employees work from out-of-office locations, the paperless office becomes more essential. Paper documents are expensive to store, and when you add in the cost of printed distribution, space, labor and supplies, the cost can be considerable. Multiply that by every location, and you can see that document management software can save both space and money while positively affecting your business in many important ways.
Beyond space and supplies, document management software saves you money by saving the cost of salaries. The best programs help you quickly scan documents, import electronic files and folders into a central location, and distribute business documents in standardized formats. Search features allow your employees to find documents in seconds rather than hours. Workflow components ensure that newly created documents have an associated deadline and are edited and approved by appropriate personnel.
Document management software solutions like our top three choices, M-Files DMS, eFileCabinet and PaperPort Pro, give you all the features you need to effectively manage your documents and your employees. For more information and ideas on becoming an efficient paperless office, see our articles about digital document management software.
When determining which document management software is best for you, the most import things to consider are organization, workflow and usability. The tools should let you edit and revert to previous versions. The interface should be intuitive enough for you to grasp with little or no training, regardless of your computer skill level, and the workflow should direct document creation. As we review each software package, we rate them according to the following criteria:
Document management software works best when it replaces and improves on features typically performed by a patchwork of other programs. Essential features to look for include initiating document imaging or having the software run your scanner, being able to add files from external sources rather than only those that come through your scanner and providing a central document repository. Cloud or online storage and sharing are now common business practices, and automatic pathways to cloud storage can also be a huge time saver.
Your daily workload can also be significantly simplified if you have other, less common features managed through your document management application. These include options like a path that ensures regulatory compliance, an automatic system that backs up your document repository or templates to ensure original documents provide appropriate information.
The best tools encourage collaboration. They include the ability to convert paper and electronic documents to PDF files, to capture text from imaged documents (optical character recognition or OCR), and to merge or split those PDFs. Your software should include multiple levels of security and version control to allow access to sensitive documents only with the proper permissions. Consider tools that track a document's workflow and thereby increase productivity.
To save even more time or the need to learn anything new, check to see if the software you are considering allows you to create in and save to the widely used Microsoft Office Suite. If your company is dependent on a customer relationship management application (CRM) or an enterprise resource planning (ERP) suite, also be sure it can be accessed and used from inside your document management software.
You'll also want to know if the software captures and preserves emails or if it has the ability to automatically email stakeholders about version changes or deadlines. If you are often away from your desk, you'll want to know if you can send and receive files using your smartphone or tablet.
Help & Support
Before you purchase, during installation or whenever you have a question, you need to be able to count on getting good information from your software provider. FAQs, user forums, video tutorials and other helpful information are some of the options that may be available from the provider’s website. You’ll also want to know if you can contact the company by email, phone or live chat.
Saving time, energy and expense to vastly improve productivity requires a few changes in the way your business functions. By consulting these rating criteria, you can find the document management software that enables your business to run more efficiently.