Recently we’ve been talking a lot about the benefits of going paperless as well as the cost-advantages of doing so. Now we are going to focus more on the implementation, starting with which Document Management System (DMS) you should choose.
It can be very overwhelming to have to make this decision. I mean, there’s so much out there to consider! Let’s first talk about what exactly a DMS is.
Think of them as electric filing cabinets that has all your organizational needs. You can fill them by either scanning or uploading documents. Once they are uploaded, you have access to a powerful search engine that allows you to access in file you desire in a heartbeat.
Generally DMSs are split up into two categories: Self-Hosted and Cloud-Hosted. Let’s discuss the differences..
Self-Hosted Document Management System
A self-hosted DMS is one that the company is in full control of. All the software and documents are stored in the company’s own servers. This is great because that means you can store whatever, whenever. The only limit is your initial server size.
Now, the downside is that there tends to be a large up-front cost. This is due to the initial cost of paying for storage, the license fee (which may need to be paid yearly), as well as a potential installation cost. However, what you’re paying for is unlimited access to your data that you are in complete control of. If the internet goes down, no worries, you can still access your database!
With this being said, since the upfront cost can get hefty for larger companies, this system is recommended for small to mid sized companies
Cloud-Hosted Document Management System
With a Cloud-Hosted DMS, you are having to pay a third-party in order to handle all your data. This data is then accessed online.
This definitely has its pros. For example, this means that you can access your company files regardless of where you are; as long as you have internet connection you are able to access them. Also you do not need an IT team to install the system, it’s as easy as purchasing an item online.
There are downsides, of course. For starters, you usually have to pay a monthly or annual fee. Also you are at the mercy of your provider. If somethings happens or you lose internet connection you cannot access your files.
If you are a larger company and have a lot of employees on the go, then this is probably the best system for you.
Once you have chosen the type of DMS that is best for you company, it’s on to doing research regarding which provider is best for you. Here are some things you might want to consider when looking at your options:
- Accessibility : the system should be easy for employees to learn and use
- How easy it is for employees to search: you want various methods of searching that beyond the normal search bar.
- Security – the system should allow you add passwords to files and folders, as well as limit reading or writing access.
- Compatibility- the system should be compatible with the programs you are already using.
- Mobile Access – if your company has a lot of people traveling for work, it’s definitely work considering a system that allows your employees to access data off-site.