Document management software comes in many flavours and types. There are web based document management packages, client server based document management packages, data base document management and recently, 'Cloud based' document management, or hosted DM.
How do you decide which is the right software approach for you? This is not an easy question to answer and each document management vendor will give you their reasons why the method of delivery and structure they have is best. In the end it is going to depend on how you want to use your document management and how your IT network infrastructure is designed.
Of course the strength of the vendor, the features incorporated into the software and the way it sorts and files your records are going to be as important as the design of the underlying software.
Some key features of each type:
Web based: One of the strengths of this platform design is the lack of a need to deploy a client software package. The internet browser on each workstation is the access point for the DM. Secondly, most web based packages lend themselves to supporting multiple branch operations right out of the box.
Client Server based: Client server based software can sometimes be faster and more robust than other types. Due to the use of a client package on the workstation the refinement of the interface can be more customized and lead to easier development of sophisticated integration. Client server based packages tend to have been developed over a longer period of time, often before the easy growth of web connectivity. This can be one of the limitations of these packages.
Data base packages: These types of packages are usually integrated with the underlying data base structure like Oracle or SQL. By storing all of the information of the DM in the same data base they can make very robust and sophisticated linkages between images and the data. The downside is often in the licensing model of the data base and the additional computing horsepower they may require.
Cloud based packages: Originally known as hosted document management 'cloud' based packages make use of software that is run on the host's systems and permit the users of the package to operate using a link over the internet. They are very similar to web based packages, except in the cloud scenario the user data is stored on the host's servers rather than on a server located in the user's office. There is no software to acquire and a monthly subscription is used to pay for the service.
Every one of these types of document management system have their uses. I have experience in working with all four of these systems and in certain locations I have found each of them to have their attractions and also their challenges.
In most instances it is not the platform decision which will dictate a choice of software. The choice is usually driven by key features that are provided; like levels of document security, abiltiy to easily integrate with other devices, need for remote or local access, types of files being stored, amount of data to be handled, transactional as opposed to working data....all of these are considerations.
Of course price, licensing provisions, available support plans, software operating systems supported and designed scalability are also considerations you need to look at.
Acquiring a document management system for your office can be a significant means to improve productivity, security and ease of use. Deciding which one is best for you will take some investigation but can be worth the effort. Here's a short summary of why you should do Document Management.
Are you still filing with paper records? Why? Have you looked at Document Management as a way to improve your office? Are you intersted in going paperless? Are you winning the 'war on paper' in your office? Tell us your experiences below...