Data is one of the crucial elements handled by businesses across the globe. Storage and retrieval of data using traditional methods involve huge costs, as data exists mostly in the form of hard copies or in business-related documents. The conversion of the business data from hard copies and business-related documents to a digital form requires huge expenditure from the company. With the introduction of an electronic document and word processing software, this challenge has been somewhat handled.
Modern-age firms, today, generate huge amounts of data that is stored either in physical or in electronic format. So, they are looking for a document management system (DMS) that will enable them to address most of the challenges around data storage and retrieval, accessibility, security, archiving, and indexing.
Is DMS Sufficient for your Business?
Electronic Document Management System improves operational efficiency, enables easy access to stored data, improves data security, centralizes source of information, provides flexible indexing, and improves distribution to name a few. However, these stand-alone Electronic DMS have limitations. Transferring of documentation from one place to another is difficult as the system maintains different versions of documents and editing is difficult and time-consuming.
In current times considering the growing and expanding workforce distributed over multiple locations and multiple users working on the same documents and deliverables, organizations need a stable system that allows seamless storage and retrieval of documents.
How to Address Limitations of a DMS?
To address DMS limitations, a Document Collaboration Tool (DCT) came into the picture. It offers flexibility for multiple users to work on a single document from different terminals (computer or mobile device). This feature helps teams sitting at multiple locations to work together on a single document via the internet or a cloud-based collaboration system. It also offers a built-in functionality of a standard Document Management System (DMS), which allows a stakeholder to select the most appropriate collaboration tool for the business.
Like all other tools/software, the document collaboration tool has its limitations. Businesses have often felt the need for a packaged product that can offer the benefits of a Document Management System (DMS) as well as a Document Collaboration Tool.
How to select a Best Fit Tool for your Business?
Before selecting an appropriate DMS, it is important that the people involved should have:
#1 Clear understanding of the requirements with respect to the documentation strategy
This can be done by internal brainstorming among stakeholders on important aspects like:
- What types of documents can be created within an organization?
- What template should be used for each type of document?
- What metadata should be provided for each type of document?
- How to store and provide access to each document?
- How will the document move from the creation to review, approval, and publication stage?
Firms must record the actions performed in the document or part of the document. These actions are vital from the organization’s perspective and must be retained in the form of corporate records under specific corporate guidelines and legal requirements. The answer to all these typical questions will help the decisive authorities to conclude on the best fit tool for their business or organization.
#2 Consider the various features of the document management system and document collaboration tool
Companies must ensure that the DMS system must provide data capture, storage, classification, indexing, versioning, maintenance, retention of documents, metadata, indexing, searching and retrieval, versioning, and most importantly security and safety (both in terms of file backups and security measures) features. Beyond this, DMS may include other features such as cross-platform support, multiple and customizable interfaces, file conversions, and others. A DCT offers provision for concurrent editing, integration capabilities, rich media and content management, and in-built workflow capabilities. A stakeholder must compare the price of the DMS along with the features offered before making a final choice. OpenKM and Dokmee are two systems which provide most of the above-mentioned features and have gathered a significant degree of popularity over the last few years. These systems provide support on various platforms like mobile, desktop, or web.
#3 Implement a data management plan
Using the right Document Management tool might not be sufficient while dealing with the business documents. Businesses must consider other basic hygiene activities to reap more benefits from these systems. It has been learnt based on the research data that 2/3rd of data breaches occur due to human errors. A data management plan should also be developed to prevent loss of data. This plan can also help businesses determine open-standard hardware and an ideal platform for data storage.
#4 Develop a naming strategy
Develop a naming strategy and assign an appropriate suffix based on specific versions of stored files. While choosing the name of a file system, businesses must use a descriptive and self-explanatory file-naming convention that would make sense for the next five years. It is not advised to rely on the directory structure for sharing critical information, as files copied elsewhere will no longer be associated with the original folder hierarchy.
#5 Use relational database
Businesses must use a relational database to avoid redundancy of data. Entering only one instance of data into a single record will ensure consistency. It is recommended to disaggregate data along columns and use different tables for analyses and numbers. In a relational database, data collected is stored in different tables and then linked with each other based on a unique key. Also, it is advised to include only one table within a single spreadsheet. Usage of these practices through all the stages will ensure accessibility and longevity of your data.
The Final Call
There are hundreds of tools in the market each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Compare the features and functions of these tools to make sure that only the best and the most fit-to-use online collaboration tool is selected for your organization. If free trials are available, make use of it to learn more about the product and check how it will contribute to the success of your organization. Organizations must consider the some of the points while shortlisting—set up costs, features, training required, security, ease of use, etc. One needs to be sure to assess each one in light of organization’s specific needs and processes so that you get everything you need to push your organization to a higher level.