When you have an expert in front of you talking about the place of electronic document management today in a webinar or demo, what are the questions you should ask to find out whether the software you’re viewing is the right software for your company?
In these days of customisation and personalisation, no one should have to tolerate being forced to work according to the software’s rules. So, first of all, you should ask just how adaptable is the software solution to your organisation’s needs?
– Can I change the navigation?
– Can I arrange my searches and alerts, and share work?
Today, business process integration is the name of the game. Managers are aiming for line-of-sight across their businesses; operators are looking for efficiency and standardisation. Ask the DM expert how their solution can help you achieve these objectives. How extensible is the software from department to department; how does it integrate with other systems; and how future proof is the software under review?
Most established electronic document management software will allow you to capture paper and digital documents, store, retrieve and share them. What else does the software do? How much automation is there and does the system help keep you compliant with industry regulations. For example, can you implement a records retention policy so that records are kept for as long as required and destroyed at a prescribed date?
Workflow, workflow, workflow. How easy is it to set up a rules-based process that protects your specific business workflow, with authority levels, access privileges, approvals, alerts and reports. With some document software, adapting workflow and the checkpoints within it can be a laborious and costly exercise. Ask if the provider offers anything different. Would you be able to create and implement workflows yourself, without specialist programming knowledge? Could it be as simple as ‘drag and drop’?
A growing requirement in many businesses is the need for real-time business intelligence. With so much data across all areas of a business from client services, to manufacturing, to accounting and cash control, to specialist documentation such as legal case work or contracts, how can you possibly monitor it all? Ask about a business intelligence dashboard that makes it simple to amalgamate complex information into an at-a-glance business barometer.
Finally, you should ask questions about your investment. Here are the top four considerations of document management software buyers.
1) Cost and value
The greater percentage of companies identify this as the single most important factor. So ask how and over what period of time the system typically delivers a return on investment.
2) User friendliness
This is the second most common factor in people’s DM software buying decision. Ask how you can be assured that the software will be as easy for you to use as it is is for the experienced software demonstrator. Can you talk to other users as well as try for yourself?
3) Cost of ownership
Flush out any unforeseen or hidden costs associated with installation, integration or maintenance. It’s important to have full knowledge of ongoing costs to operate the system.
4) Software flexibility
A major requirement for successful document management is the software’s ability to integrate with legacy infrastructure, including ERP, CRM and other line-of-busines applications.
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