Man at desk thinking about choosing a document management system

Identifying common missteps is certainly one of the best ways to begin your research for any project; especially implementing some type of change to the structure of how your business gets work done. Knowing what they are ahead of time means that you don’t get hung up on one of these common snags! It’s no different when purchasing a document management system. Knowing where these snags are will help you to better apply a change to your business and help to ensure its success and ultimate returns on your investment.

So, where do you start?

You know that you need to make a change in the way you’re handling paper in your business – but you just don’t know that the next step forward is the right one! Do you send out your IT-guy to do research? It is his job to make sure you get it installed and working properly. Or do you send out the department head that wants a DMS to find a product to buy? The simple answer here is yes. They both need to be involved; but for different reasons. Additionally, the C-Level Executives should be involved as well. Why? Because this type of change should involve them all to some degree – so having them all on board during the decision-making process means that everyone’s goals are being considered and applied.

Allocating of a Business Decision to IT Personnel

Typical considerations when purchasing a document management system are:

  • Business budgets
  • Long-term strategic plans
  • Staff training
  • Support
  • Hardware needs, etc.

All of these and more help to guide the choice of what DMS to buy. Though IT Personnel certainly play a critical role in the implementation of the software, and absolutely need to be involved in the decision-making process, it’s best to involve people whose area of responsibility includes your strategic business goals.

Front-line/End-User Involvement

Choosing a DMS should always involve the personnel that will ultimately be handling its usage. You wouldn’t go out and purchase an article of clothing for someone without involving them in some way – getting a size, style and color preference from the person you expect to wear it is a must!

It’s no different with a piece of software that you intend to implement into their daily lives. Let them have a say in how the organizational structure will function, how the software should function to complement the types of documents they deal with daily, and how easy will it be for each employee to learn and utilize the software effectively. Including them in the process of searching for and finding the right DMS will ensure that it is used and not a constant headache for everyone involved.

Understanding Difficulties

Identifying things that you and your personnel currently find to be frustrations are the best way to guide your decision process. Each business and each department within that business will have its own set of unique needs and methods in which those needs are met. Get feedback on things that employees on your front-lines hope to change in order to be more efficient. Engage all personnel that will ultimately be using the new software to get a full understanding of exactly what they need to be more efficient. Many DMS providers offer demonstrations of their products – finding those that offer to show their product in a form that fits into your company functionality and appearance can really help.

So many people sitting down to talk to DMS providers quickly discover that they do not truly understand what issues they have with their current workflows. Whether you have a DMS already or not, you are already moving documents throughout your company. Someone in your company prints paper and then sends it to someone else. Sometimes it’s simply an invoice that is printed and moved from someone’s desk to the warehouse; or sometimes it’s more complicated – for instance how protected files are locked away in a vault and only accessible via a supervisor. Regardless of how paper documents move within your business, knowing how they move is key to getting a document management system that will fill employee’s needs.

Remember: your personnel – the end-users – are what drives new technologies within your business, is the biggest key to success.

The Targeted Approach

You’ve made the decision to get a DMS. You might even know which one you’re going to buy at this point. But one of the most common pitfalls happens at this stage of the buying process; the decision to carry-out this change company-wide.

That might sound like an appealing thought after all you’ve been exposed to by this stage of the buying process – performing all these awesome changes throughout the whole company. But wait! Rather than rolling-out the change like hitting a ‘go’ button, consider a more successful route: gradual departmental implementations.

Companies that implement document management in one department first versus company-wide are more likely to have that implementation succeed. That simple statement of [what many who sell DMS call] fact, is hard data to provide specifics to. But just ask any Document Management Software/Solutions developer, reseller or user – and they will sing that same tune. With departmental implementation percentages in companies touting unofficial success numbers of 90% and higher – it’s easy to see why staged implementations are the way to go.

The Take Away

Basically, the biggest bullet-points to remember are:

  • Involve your front-line, IT personnel and C-level executives.
  • Know how things currently work within your company and what’s important in your own workflow.
  • Have an idea of the obstacles you wish to overcome by rolling out a DMS.
  • When executing the change, start slowly and build to your desired scale.

And lastly, ask lots of questions. The only way to know for sure that you’ve found the right solution for your business is to put in the time to research and investigate each DMS. If you’re looking for a place to start this search, try checking out the white paper, Document Management System Buyer’s Guide, or reach out to us on Facebook, Twitter and Linked-in for more information!

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