In every company or business, there is a flow of different types of documents. When the number of documents increases, it becomes hard to manage all of them together. For better sharing and easy retrieval of the information, you need a Document Management System. It saves the time you used to spend in finding documents and helps to keep a record of everything. In this article, we will understand in depth about the Document Management System, its functions and features.
What is a Document Management System?
In simple words, if we say then, Document Management Software is a software or a tool or process that allows us to keep, track, store and retrieve documents available in different formats. Moreover, aside from managing documents, it gives you access to several options also for performing different actions on the document as per requirements.
The main purpose or job of Document Management Software is to facilitate the smooth workflow of different documents in and out of the organisation and ensure they are kept together in one place. In DMS, all the documents of different formats are kept inside the software only.
DMS helps organisations function beyond their limits and eliminate the old school method of keeping document records. By limiting the usage of paper, they can bring their whole business system from offline to online. DMS is also secure, allowing sharing and easy connectivity between different apps and workflow systems.
DMS also streamlines the manual process of creating documents. A document is called a universal API which is used for exchanging business-related information. The document can be anything like invoices, contracts, bills, purchase orders etc.
Functions of Document Management System
Document management systems excel at handling different tasks a company performs on a daily basis related to documents. Moreover, it’s adept at keeping the growing information and workloads in the proper easy to find format. If you are looking to purchase DMS for your company, then consider the following features for choosing the ideal one:
Adding Files and Documents: Is it easy to add documents in the DMS you selected? Does it allow creating documents directly in the software? Is there a way to email and scan the documents? Does the DMS follow any file format or size-related constraints? Ask yourself all these questions and find suitable answers to them.
Integration With Other Available Apps: Does the Document Management Software you are thinking to purchase easily get integrated with other tools used by companies like Salesforce, MS Office, CMS and much more? Without proper ways of integration, it will become hard to use multiple apps simultaneously.
Workflow of Documents: Does the DMS only allow you to perform functions like add, edit, share etc., or it allows the flow of workflow or publishing process also along with files? If it allows, it will lead to higher productivity as you will be able to combine different functions and use them.
Management of Projects: DMS will be a great addition if it works as a project management tool also. To check if DMS can work as a project management tool or not, check the following points:
- Does DMS allow the creation, organization, tagging, and storage of documents based on the project name and stage?
- Can you set controls or permission like sharing the document, files or folders only with the concerned employees instead of everyone?
- Can you send emails or alerts whenever the contributor completes working on the specific document and is ready to move to the project’s next stage?
Collaboration: All organisations demand collaboration in every software or tool they use. The enterprises demand the softwares to be so flexible that they can work from anywhere using any device. Does DMS allow editing, writing, proofreading etc., by different collaborators at the same time? Is there any feature available like chat, direct messaging etc., for quick communication? How do controls work in the DMS? Does it allow multiple people to work, edit, view etc., the same document?
Versions Control: Anyone familiar with editing and giving feedback about documents knows how daunting it is to manage the versions. Sometimes, it turns out to be the biggest trouble if not everyone is at the same table. For example, if a manager shares a document with five employees for review. They are making edits on static documents as per their understanding. Still, if the versions are different, it will take forever for the manager to collect all the edits. So any manager or individual working on the DMS should be able to find the latest version of required documents anytime quickly. To avoid the conflict of version control, managers can invite employees to edit the single document via DMS and give one contact the responsibility to resolve conflicts or comments and integrate feedback. Isn’t it easy?
Permission and Security Controls: How secure is the DMS? Does it provide internal and external security? How does the DMS handle the authentication of different users? Does it allow setting different permission levels like editing, proofreading, viewing etc., as per the requirements?
Compliance With Set Standards: If your organisation is related to some industry where you have to follow standards, then make sure the documents also comply with those regulations and requirements. An industry-specific DMS will include the standards into the documents to make sure they comply with them.
Features of Document Management System
You already know what functions must be there in the document management system you are looking to purchase. Here is a list of features you must look into:
Excellent User Interface: The DMS will likely be used by different individuals like vendors, contributors, employees, managers etc., and they will have their varied requirements. So you need to select a DMS which is easy to use, set up and learn. Also, look for a DMS with an excellent user-friendly interface, and make sure the employees need minimal training to get started using it.
Simple File Structure: You don’t need a DMS with a sophisticated file and folder structure system. Check in the DMS whether it’s easy to create files and folders or not. We know the structure of folders looks like a tree that contains related folders, files, subfolders etc. In the DMS, it must be easy for all users to find the document and retrieve it quickly.
Ability To Alter, Tag and Meet Naming Conventions: Every company follows their own naming conventions rules for naming documents and files. The DMS you are thinking of purchasing must allow you to change the existing naming conventions and follow your own rules.
Easy To Access: Most people work remotely, so you need to check whether the DMS allows remote working from home or from anywhere in the world. The employees must be able to access the DMS from any location virtually using the platform of their choice.
Excellent Search: Can you search in the DMS using the project name, author name, title, type etc.? In addition, look for a DMS where you can alter or add new search criteria as per the requirements.
Enough Space: How much storage do you need? Every organisation needs to answer this question before purchasing a DMS. In this era, the amount of data grows every day; thus, it demands more storage. Therefore, get a DMS with plenty of storage space instead of a limited one. Most of the free DMS allows 5 GB of storage space which may finish sooner than you believe. Experts say it is best to get a DMS in which you never run out of space and can work effectively.
Chat Function and Email Notifications: Another part of collaborating is communicating with fellow collaborators and employees to ask their opinions and reply to their real-time questions. It saves a lot of energy and time if the DMS allows sending instant messages to others working on the document. Email notifications are also necessary to let people working on the doc know who is handling the document, write notes, and know when it’s ready for them to work on it.
Security: What security controls offer DMS? Check if it’s exactly what your company needs. See both inside and outside the company security measures and check the DMS for viruses, threats, hacking, etc. Your documents are your assets so ensure the DMS keeps them safe.
Archiving: For how long DMS allow you to keep records and store the files? Some companies tend to keep the documents for years, and they also need to ensure it complies with set standards. On the other hand, for a smooth workflow, you need to keep a record of archives of old projects or documents for reference purposes. Again, DMS can help with it.
Customer Support: Do the DMS companies offer round the clock customer support? You need to check this feature so that if any problem persists, you have a way to go. If you have chosen free DMS, then customer support will be limited. Before purchasing, check how quickly their customer support responds and how easy it is to reach out to them? The last thing is to focus on ensuring that the DMS does not crash while you are working. If it often crashes, then it’s not worth purchasing.
Publishing: As earlier said, DMS are quite different from CMS, but all companies need to perform some action on the complete documents, which can be publishing, uploading, etc. So make sure your DMS allows you to perform those actions without any limitations.
Now you know which features to look for in a Document Management System, so make sure you focus on them before purchasing one. You need a DMS that allows you to do everything and is secure also simultaneously.
Does your DMS have all the above features? Share your thoughts.