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Buying Guide for Document Management Software
It might not be as attractive as product development or marketing, but managing your business's documentation is crucial for internal logistics. It is easy to lose track of important information, waste time looking for a necessary form, or simply fail to document mission-critical tasks. Having a central document management system will make the task of tracking documents much more organized, saving resources and time.
There are two industry terms for this kind of system: a document management system and a content management system. Both of them refer to the same idea: a suite of software that electronically tracks and manages a variety of file types. They can work with documents in different formats as well as email. Many systems also have built-in security as well to provide protection from hackers and cybersecurity threats.
There is variation in the offerings available. Some vendors offer systems called document capture systems. These can scan and store documents, offering a way to digitize paper records, but they lack the management tools of a full document management system. Some companies might not need anything more sophisticated than that depending on their needs.
Our buying guide will help you can make an informed decision about which works best for you. Taking a step towards better organization of documents can be a great leap forward in workflow and logistics, but it requires research to ensure that you get the best tools for your needs.
Benefits of Document Management
Save time, save money
It takes a considerable amount of time to search through physical files, fill out paperwork, and file it away in the correct place. On the other hand, skimping on following the right protocol can lead to disorganized files, which always creates major problems in the future.
A document management system can help with that by bringing all essential files online. That saves the time and space of having a dedicated filing area and forcing employees to work there whenever they need to deal with paperwork. It also reduces the chances of losing or destroying documents, saving the time and effort of replacing them later. Additionally, employees will be able to find the files they need faster with digital search tools, which work much faster than physically searching a file cabinet.
Safeguard your documents
The past several months have seen many data breaches at major companies like Target, where hackers stole customer data. These attacks are a huge liability for any company that experiences them. What's more, many of these breaches aren't the result of external attackers but unhappy employees using their position to access and then leak critical information. A good document management system will include a robust security system that can protect against both kinds of threats. They accomplish this with password protection for tiers of trusted users and powerful encryption techniques to protect the content of any document.
Power failures and disasters can damage or destroy records, even if they are electronic. However, a good document management system will create backups in data centers far from the business headquarters, protecting the company against the risk of data loss from a storm or fire. That, combined with the security measures, means document management is a one-stop-shop for the protection of company information.
Of course, a modern software suite has many innovative elements like remote access, mobile app integration, and collaboration tools. These promote efficient use of time and resources, saving even more money and boosting productivity.
There are several kinds of features that document management systems can carry, and you need to know them as well as know what you need to evaluate which system is most suitable for your company. First of all, the user interface needs to be fast and easy to use for the software to be more efficient than a paper system. It should be possible to customize this interface to suit your needs. The software itself should be able to connect to your existing software so that it is easy to get your documents and emails into the system.
Check each system and package to see if you can start with a basic version and add more features later if you need them, and make sure that it has the capacity to handle future growth. Learn about security options and how to set up access for different users. Ensure that the search tool works quickly and efficiently. Ask about automated workflow tools that can boost productivity. There is quite a few potential features a DMS can have, and it is up to you to decide which are necessities and which are luxuries.
Finding a Vendor
When you look to buy a DMS, you are generally getting in touch with a vendor who is acting as a middleman. They purchase the software from the developer and sell it to you, saving the developer the trouble of creating a distribution system. A good vendor will understand the particular needs of your industry, such as security and compliance requirements or the need for round-the-clock support. You need to understand your own needs, but a knowledgeable vendor can connect you with the right software suite to maximize your value.
There is one major constant in the pricing of DMS tools: bulk discounts. As you purchase software that can support more users, your cost per user drops. The base price can be quite expensive, and adding on special features will increase the price even more, so make sure your choices are affordable.
A system with basic features that can accommodate about 10 users can run around $10,000, all the way up to $150,000 massive systems that support hundreds of users. Some companies base their prices on the amount of documents you store or impose a monthly fee as a subscription instead of a one-time installation cost. The high expense means you need to be careful about investing in a DMS- it is not an expense to take on lightly, but it can really pay off if it fits.