In order to build any structure, there are three key components: A good foundation, proper tools, and skilled professionals. This is true when creating a towering sky scraper, humble home, or document structure that holds all of your firm’s intellectual property.

Building a Foundation

There are 4 important things to know about a good Document Management System (DMS):

  1. First it will create the organizational structure. The will save users the time of creating folders, and building the trees needed for documents. But more importantly it will eliminate the inconsistency between different users, and other human errors like duplicates and typos.
  2. Second, a true DMS will prevent users from breaking out of the structure provided by the DMS. Simply put, when a user saves a document the DMS will override the typical Windows save screen with its own type of save. So essentially, users are forced to save in the structure with no way to bypass the DMS. This forced save also guides users to a shared location that is backed up.
  3. Third it will provide a variety of ways for users to search for documents. A few of the common search options are, title, modified date, user, text in file, and profile type.
  4. Finally, a true DMS will have security options that will allow a user or groups to have restricted access to documents, features, folders, and settings.

Don’t confuse a document management system with a “Sync and Share” system (like DropBox). Sync and Share programs do not have the above features. They typically sync your different devices so files can be shared to other devices. They will not have the organization structure, security, search, and additional features listed, that are found in a DMS.

Swayed by price, firms often confuse the two products and end up with Sync and Share software rather than a true DMS. While both products are excellent, it’s important to have the correct foundation for the job. A real DMS will provide that foundation.

Proper Tools

DMS products will provide the users with many powerful tools to create a good file structure, but if you don’t have the right tools, nothing can be built. Proper customization will give your team the tools they need to successfully adopt a DMS. Remember, all DMS products require customization. Improper setup can have immediate effects, like difficult user acceptance, errors, and increased complexity, all of which affect productivity and the development of your document structure. In order to get proper customization, remember these points.

  • Lack of customization – By not enabling all of the settings your site needs, users may not have the tools available to them that are provided by the DMS to increase and simplify productivity.
  • Over customization – Some firms over-do customization options which have the same effect on productivity as a lack of customization.
  • Implementation – Sometimes firms decide they know what is best, and then reshape the DMS to match their current document configuration. Remember that what you are buying is for a purpose. It was created to be the best for that purpose by professionals who have put countless hours in to R&D to make the best product.

When customizing a DMS remember – less is more. You want to get by with the fewest features necessary for your site. As with buildings, it’s typically easier to make an addition than it is to remove something. This is because removal usually requires moving documents around and tearing down part or all off the structure to make the adjustment.

Skilled Professionals

In order to make good use of the DMS foundation and its tools your staff must be trained. They need to be aware of the changes the DMS will make to their current workflow. People tend to resist change, so even if they are easy, your team will perceive them as more difficult simply because they are new. Then if they are unaware of the tools that will create the structure or increase productivity they will not be used. They are building you document structure and some of that structure will reflect their feelings toward it. If it’s difficult and frustrating, moral and confidence in the program will be low and they will search for ways to avoid using it. However if they are excited, or at least confident in their ability to use it then they will create a useful structure. Don’t forget about future employees also, someone hired two years from now will still need good training in order to continue to build and maintain your document structure.

By selecting the correct foundation, using the proper tools and materials, your skilled and trained team will be able to create a simple and efficient document structure.

Related Links:
Worldox vs. NetDocuments: A Comparison Between Document Management Systems
Worldox On-Demand Demonstration
Worldox DMS vs. Windows File Search