How to choose the right document management solution

If you’re planning to invest in document management software, you’ve already taken a big step toward achieving a more organized business with more efficient workflows. The next move is to choose the right solution.

There are lots of great software tools available to help you organize, store, and easily access all of your digital documents, but not all of them will be a good match for your company.

Before you start researching individual solutions, familiarize yourself with your company’s processes so you know them inside and out. Once you have a good understanding of where your particular document management challenges lie, you’ll have a better basis for making decisions.

Below are some things to think about as you start your research.

Features to consider

Document management software has a wide range of features and functionality — not all of which may be important to you. Below are some of the factors that will have a major impact on how well a solution fits your business and whether or not it can support your future growth.

1. Workflows

If one of your goals is to streamline a multitude of overly complex business processes, finding software with comprehensive workflow features should be your priority. Zoho Docs, for example, includes a number of advanced tools that help you build and automate workflows at minimal cost.

2. Automation

Every business can benefit from implementing automation in some way. Some solutions are capable of automatically categorizing documents, triggering workflows, and assembling new documents.

If you use forms for data collection, Jotform is capable of automatically populating document templates with information collected via online forms. It also integrates with many other commonly used tools so you can set up automated workflows.

3. Integrations

You likely already use a variety of other solutions to get work done, like payment processors, customer relationship management (CRM) software, and more. Your document management system should integrate with them so documents flow smoothly from one stage to the next.

4. Hosting

Software is typically deployed in one of two ways: as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution, which uses cloud storage for your data, or an on-premises solution, which runs on servers located in your facility and stores documents there.

Cloud storage is convenient and keeps your document load light, but it also means you exercise less control over security and maintenance. Onsite hosting gives you control, but you’ll have to consider paying more to manage your own security. Dropbox is a popular cloud storage tool, while the on-premises Treeno Document Server installs on your company’s servers.

5. Security

In some cases, your main goal is to simply protect your documents better. While you may have more control over security using on-premises software, many cloud solutions have advanced security features that are useful, such as audit trails or authentication tools. Some solutions that are highly rated for security include DocuWare Cloud and Rubex by eFileCabinet.

3 steps to choosing the right document management solution

Once you have your list of priorities and potential solutions, you’ll probably have one question left to answer: How do you identify which tool is right for you? You may have multiple priorities, or you might see multiple options that excel at meeting those needs. To help clarify this process, let’s break it down into a few key steps.

1. Compare solutions side by side

The advantage of having multiple solutions available is that it’s easy to look at them in a head-to-head comparison. One tip for making the comparison easier is to do an internet search for “[name of software] pricing,” which typically retrieves a concise list of features because the pricing page is where most software companies list their products’ benefits and features, row by row.

Using this strategy, you can start generating a list of software that might meet your needs. You’ll also get a sense of how different programs stack up when compared side by side.

2. Rank your priorities

Here’s a simple exercise: Write down all the most important features and functions you want your software to have. Then go down the list and give each a ranking number, with “1” being the most important. You now know which features to seek out first.

Next, refer to the list you have from step one. Which solution offers your features in its most affordable pricing tiers? Which ones don’t even mention your priorities? You can usually cross those off.

As you whittle down the list, you’ll start to see that your strategy is pointing to one solution.

3. Test the solutions

Once you identify a frontrunner, you’re not necessarily done with the selection process. Choose a solution that seems right, and then test it with just a few documents and workflows in your business.

Once you’re confident it’s successful on a small scale, you’ll be ready to bring it to the entire company. These three steps turn a complicated process into just a few bite-sized pieces. If you complete them in order, you’ll demystify the process of selecting the right document management solution. And by the time you’re done testing one, you’ll feel confident you made the right choice.

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