As a consultant, I am often approached by clients that are interested and want to start going down the paperless path of document management. Going paperless is a wonderful idea and can offer many advantages not to mention greater efficiencies.
How do you approach the selection of a new document management? That is a good question as there are many different ways you can evaluate document management systems. What I tell our clients is that the selection process for a document management system should be a more diligent process than other selection processes. The reason is that selecting the wrong document management system can be very burdensome to change.
I have come up with 5 Steps that I walk my clients through in order to select the right document management system that not only suit their needs, but also offers the most efficient way of doing things.
Step 1- Determine your requirements. Really dig into what the functionality of the document management system is to be. Too often customers only look at the immediate need and not what the whole organization can use the software for. Document management is not just for accounts payable processing, signed contracts, etc. But it can be used for the entire organization. Think about how HR can use a document management solution for tracking employee documents, or the legal department tracking case information. The immediate need maybe for automating the accounts payable process but you should not limit yourself or your company on the possibilities. Remember there is no unreasonable requirement. Write them all down and validate them against all of the packages you are considering.
Step 2 – It should integrate with my accounting system. Don’t be so concerned with the system integrating out of the box with your accounting system. Although that is a benefit, it’s not the greatest benefit. Almost all systems can be integrated with your accounting system. Integration out of the box is a “want”, but not necessarily an absolute “need” or a reason to exclude a document management system from the selection process.
Step 3—Technology selection. The technology the system uses isn’t that important. Most document management systems want to reside on their own server or they are moving to the cloud so you don’t even know what technology it uses. Does it matter? No. The most important thing is can I integrate to the application and does it work.
Step 4 – Is there an API? You are a growing company and you can’t think of everything that may happen in the future. You may need to integrate the document management system to another computer system or an in house developed system. So does the document management system have a strong API that allows you or your vendor to integrate the systems? The better systems do and have well documented API’s.
Step 5 – The company. Take a hard look at the company that manufactures the software and don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions:
1. Is this the only software your company supports?
2. Do you own the source code? Believe it or not, some companies are just distributors of the software and don’t control the software.
3. Do you provide the support or is it somewhere else?
4. How many support staff, consultants, developers do you employ?
5. How many customers use your software (Actual companies, not licensed users)?
6. Ask them to explain why someone returned the software before, if they said no one ever returned the software, that is a red flag.
7. What is their release schedule? Every year? Every other year?
8. How many service packs to they release a year?
In the end selecting a document management system can be just as long a process as selecting your ERP package. Don’t take for granted what the company is telling you. Salespeople will tell you anything to get the deal because in the end, they are counting on you not asking for a refund and you will try and make it work.
If you are not familiar with document management systems look to your software-consulting partner to see if they have any experience. If they are a good partner, they will be agnostic to the product you choose and work in helping you select the right package. They should provide value to the process, which in turn will be worth the overall cost in reducing the chance of making a poor decision.
You will be spending at lease 25-35K all in when implementing your system. Don’t settle for a canned demo. If the vendor already has a demo setup they should be able to take a demo script from you to validate your requirements. Never assume or allow the company to tell you the function is in there or let them show you a function on another system because the demo system they are using has an error. Too many times it is smoke and mirrors make sure they do the entire demo in one environment.
If you have more questions or would like to speak to Tim on helping with choosing your Document Management System, call 301. 360.0001 or email email@example.com.
TIMOTHY (TIM) LALLY, CPA | President/CEO
Tim is the founder and president of KTL Solutions, Inc. He provides high-level guidance to our clients in order to help them better use technology within their organizations. He has an ability to understand the issue and provide a solution that best fits the client’s needs. When implementing solutions, his focus is to utilize off the shelf solutions first and customizations second.
Tim is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and has over 17 years of Microsoft Business Solutions software implementation and development experience. He started implementing Dynamics in 1987 in the early years of Great Plains on the Apple Macintosh. His responsibilities include mentoring new developers, teaching accounting principles and processes to developers, and leading the development and design of custom solutions. Tim oversees KTL’s Microsoft Business Solutions vertical market business.