During a Document Management software implementation, rumors often run amok. Firm members fear they have lost their documents or simply cannot find document they need. Sometimes they feel that the change in workflow is too great. While this is not the case, it can often feel this way during the first few days of using a new Document Management System (DMS).
To combat user concerns – communication is key. Explaining why the firm made this purchase and how it can help them will keep most users optimistic. Some managers or consultants prefer to take an authoritative approach when a user expresses concern, which doesn’t always help alleviate their fear. Saying something like, “Remember last week when you saved a document to the wrong folder, then couldn’t find it? This new software will make saving documents to the wrong place much harder and finding it much easier.” This is often more effective than simply saying, “This is our new policy.”
Here are some of the most common concerns I hear during a Document Management roll-out and how firms can overcome them.
“Help, my documents are gone!”
Your document have not disappeared. The interface may have changed, but believe me if the DMS actually lost the firms documents they would not be in business long. To alleviate this concern, remember that your firm (hopefully) purchased training with the DMS. Turn off the phone, close Outlook, and pay attention during training. Once firm members return to their desks, they will be able to find their documents. They will be able to find what they need faster and more easily. It just takes a bit of time to adjust to the change.
“Why can’t I create sub folders or put documents where I want?”
Remember that this is why the DMS was purchased – to manage your document structure. Give into the DMS and understand that it was designed to manage documents differently. Don’t try to use it the same way you used Microsoft folders. Its purpose is to maintain consistency by managing the folder structure for you. Think differently and follow the search instructions from your training session.
“I don’t want the DMS to manage all of my documents.”
Trust me when I say that your DMS Is capable of managing all of your documents. This is the reason you bought the software. Let it work. If you don’t put all of your documents into the DMS then you are managing two separate and different structures, which will cause confusion and lower your adoption rate. Keeping Windows folders and your separate DMS means you need to show users how to escape the forced structure of a DMS. This prevents other firm members from adopting the new software completely, which is a slippery slope. If you need special settings or security features, your DMS has options. You may need to work with a consultant to customize the system to your needs. Believe me, a DMS has the capability to do what you need it to do.
“This is more difficult than what I was doing.”
Of course it is, it’s new. Over time, usually about one week you will be moving along at the same speed you were before. After 2-3 weeks you are probably saving time. This is also a good opportunity to gain additional training or review, allowing you to fully leverage the DMS and maximize your return.
“The interface is confusing.”
Again, this is only because it’s new. But most Document Management systems can be customized. Look for these opportunities to adjust column headers and sort orders. This will help you adapt to the new system. If you’re an Office Manager or IT administrator, this is an excellent opportunity to get buy-in from the users and a way to give some control back. They may not be able to control the folder structure, but they can control how information is displayed.
“Where should I store my personal documents?”
This is a bit more difficult to answer since the way this is deployed may change. But in general, the firm will provide you a place to save your personal documents. If this has not been explained, then just ask.
On a final note, listen to your trainers and consultants. They will provide sessions, support, and material to get you through the transition. Identify those who will resent the change the most and prepare them accordingly. But as you know from running a business or just being human, change can be difficult.