Selecting the Most Apt DMS for Your Organization

By Parveen Sharma, National Director-IT, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co

With 15+ years of experience in driving IT Strategy & Transformation programs specialized in Cloud Advisory, IT Operating Model design & implementation, Parveen is presently working as National Director- IT at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co. He is responsible to deliver value on spend by effective management of IT costs and establish business focused IT architecture.

The official documents (i.e. records) of any organization are one of the most valuable assets that need an orderly management throughout the lifecycle of document. Thanks to the advancement of technology, there has been swift transition for most of the organizations towards electronic form of official documents. This scenario presents both challenges and opportunities towards effective management of documents. A well-defined Document management system (DMS) provides a framework for handling documents as per given specific requirements i.e. how to create, maintain integrity across various versions, sharing within or outside organization, organize & store it efficiently and retire & archive as per organization policy.

With the amount of data being handled by organizations (which is only set to increase), document management systems are going to be among the most valuable assets a firm can possess.Given the potential demand, various product and service organizations have introduced their respective solutions in the market. While this has led to various options of far more affordable solutions (compared to past), the selection of “right –fit” solution among many options can be little bit more challenging.

Given that the investment in DMS is going to be strategic (i.e. with long term focus), here are some of the considerations that can help to close down a specific solution(s):

What will be the utility of DMS in your organization: This is the very first and most critical consideration to deliberate with relevant stakeholders in the organization. Do you want to use DMS as standalone product (for either electronic documents only or for both paper and electronic documents) or want to integrate with other automated solutions; if the objective is to use DMS as an integrated solution, the criteria around architecture of the DMS solution and experience of implementation partner becomes very critical. While IT function can be the conduit to enable the decision, the involvement of right stakeholders from business is absolute critical to ensure strategic alignment with business.

Ease of use for Business users: Although DMS is a technical solution, but essentially would be used in the organization as business application. So the parameters like ease of use with most frequently used feature and alignment of product interface with intuitive quotient of the business users becomes very critical for the acceptance in the long run. Most of the businesses and enabling departments will have their own set of distinctive requirements. Accordingly while a good “cultural” fitment could bring multiple benefits, a non-intuitive interface can lead to non-acceptance of the product.

Fit for future: Technology is ever changing and its usability is increasing multi-fold by every passing day. Given the growing adoption of emerging technologies like a) hosting and management over cloud platforms, b)access to data from any device & anywhere, c) content collaboration with internal & external stakeholders, and d) social integration specific requirements as per organisation policies; it becomes very critical to understand the product specifications and future roadmap in-alignment with the business strategy of the organization.

- Security: Unfortunately, all of us are now used to hear “breaking” news around security breach on routine basis and security of data is a more important issue today than it ever has been. Given the specific nature of the business, it’s very critical to identify specific requirements or considerations that would be relevant to current and future use of selected DMS. Apart from diligence around security “as a critical consideration”; it’s also imperative to address specific implicit or explicit concerns, that businesses may have about the use of DMS.

Ease of Management: Any commercial off the shelf (COTS) product, if selected for specific purpose, shall need certain degree of customization. While the customization aligns products to precise specifications, it may also creep in complexity to manage the product in the long run (including day to day operational support and upgrades / updates). Very much like ease of use for Business users, one shall also evaluate technical compatibility of shortlisted product with the in-house technical expertise; given the effort required for both implementation and on-going support.

In summary

DMS investment is strategic by nature and selected product would have utility of a “business application”; accordingly:

- Apart from the techno-functional capabilities of the product, assess the product fitment with usability, scalability and security requirements.

- Since every organization has a defined way of working, the evaluation criteria can be, accordingly aligned to the critical factors (which matter most in given environment).

- Involvement of business users (at leadership level) is must

- Speak to your peers and spend as much (as possible) time on research and due-diligence, to understand the finer nuances of implementation and on-going management

- Recall learnings from implementation of any other “business application” and factor those in your implementation plan

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