One of the biggest reasons why most organizations embrace document management in the first place is because they're attempting to solve a number of crucial challenges, essentially all at the exact same time.
If your organization is still living in a world of paper-based or even spreadsheet-based processes, simply finding the document you need when you need it can become an uphill battle. If it takes your employees an average of 10 minutes to find a piece of data before they can act on it, that's 10 minutes that they're not making money for your business.
Likewise, this "old school" way of doing things is usually prone to version control issues where you find the same document in multiple locations. At that point, you can't be quite sure that the version you're looking at is current or even accurate - thus delaying progress even longer than it already had.
Of course, this is nothing compared to the problems in terms of document security. Someone can easily walk out the front door with an important file folder of proprietary information and there's no telling when you would discover it. You also have virtually no way to limit individual access to certain files, which itself is a problem that is only going to get worse as time goes on.
Enter: document management, which for many years has been the silver bullet organizations needed to solve all of these challenges and more. But at the same time, not all document management solutions are created equally - some are simply less effective at keeping up with technology changes than others and if you're not careful, you may find yourself in a similar position to the one you were in when this all started.
Sometimes you can get away with giving your existing document management system a tune-up. Other times it absolutely needs to be put out to pasture and replaced with something new. How do you know whether your situation looks more like the former or the latter? You just need to keep a few key things in mind.
Returning to the Heart of the Document Management Process
All of this stems from the fact that the definition of an effective document management system today varies wildly from the accepted definition even as recently as a decade ago. Cybersecurity has always been a concern, for example, but in today's online world it is an absolutely priority. Version control was always important, but now it's critical - especially since the sheer volume of data that most enterprises work with on a daily basis has grown exponentially.
So if you looked at a "document management system buying guide" from 2010, it would probably have an entirely different set of features than what you would need to look for today. Of course, you're not buying a new system - you already have one.
But that doesn't mean you shouldn't approach things from the same point of view.
These days, an effective document management system will have all of the following features:
- You get one easy, centralized location from which to access every last kilobyte of data you're working with. It doesn't matter what it is or where it's stored - you don't have to go in 11 different directions just to find what you're looking for.
- It will offer fast and efficient content capture/upload capabilities. It shouldn't be difficult to import data into the system at all.
- There should be features designed to support the workflows of your users.
- It should offer more than enough storage space while also allowing you to easily scale up over time.
- In addition to folders and directories that are easy to make sense of, you should be able to search both file names and for content inside the documents.
- It will include helpful collaboration features like secure file sharing, version control, roll back features and more.
- It will place a heavy emphasis on file security, access control and will provide any audit trails necessary to maintain compliance in your industry.
So how do you know whether your existing document management system simply needs an upgrade or if it should be replaced with something new?
Take a look at the list above and compare it with the features your current system actually offers. The more items on that list you DON'T have access to, the more likely it is that a totally new option is in order. At that point, a replacement would be the best way to not only avoid information chaos, but to also stop harming collaboration, holding back productivity and ultimately hurting your bottom line.