A paperless office is something that most businesses dream of regardless of their size. An office environment sans paper is possible only when you can have a streamlined software package that is an efficient blend of storage, organizational, and scanning tools. Document management software provides all these benefits and more.
Ever since the concept of software for paper-based files arose in the 1980s, there has been a marked transformation in how businesses manage their documents. Now, document management applications are vital tools used by companies to boost productivity, improve workflow, and safeguard essential documents effectively. Is the hype surrounding these applications true? Let us consider the software application in more detail.
What businesses stand to gain from document management applications?
While there are several different programs that you can readily use to control paperless workflow, using them can become tedious and overwhelming. Instead, having the DMS (Document Management Software), you can manage all your documents and workflow with single software. It simplifies the process as you have to deal with just one interface. You can scan, directly import, and also customize the documents to comply with your office standards.
The DMS applications in use now have the capability of importing any digital document, including word processing documents, PDFs, image files, spreadsheets, and other formats. When you have introduced the material and stored it in a repository, it can be accessed from anywhere inside or outside your office with the cloud storage facility. There are other functions such as:
• Use individual keyword to search a file library
• Restrict access to specific documents
• Monitor when and who views the documents
• Track the edits done in the documents
• Retrieve pre-edited versions of the documents
• Control deletion of outdated documents
• Share, access, and edit the documents through mobile devices
DMS applications are available in two forms – A self-hosted or paid model and a subscription model called as SaaS (Software as a Service)
The functionality of DMS applications is further enriched when they are integrated with productivity applications like Microsoft Office, ERP (Enterprise Resource Management), and CRM (Customer Relationship Management). For businesses looking forward to enhancing their productivity, driving employee collaboration to new heights, and getting rid of clutter and filing cabinets from their office space, DMS solutions are ideal.
So, what features should you look for when considering a document management system?
Efficient structure: The system must feature a file structure of the conventional cabinet file approach, so users will be familiar and access the files ready and have the ability to be scanned with different types of scanners.
Search: Searching a particular file should be quick and easy with just providing the name of the file or even the content present in it.
Convenient to use: The application interface should be comfortable and suitable for all employees. If it is complicated, employees will not take up the system entirely, rendering it less useful.
Security: The application should have a robust security system that limits access to specific files and folders. It should allow setting up of access permission for employees.
Integration: This is a significant feature. Since you will already be using other management programs like CRM or email client, the new application should easily be integrated with the programs you are using.
Mobile reach: Having a document management application that you can access from anywhere via your smartphone is indeed a significant advantage and a feature that you should look to have.
Now that you have a good idea about the capability of a document management application, here is a short review of three different but efficient document management applications – Alfresco, Office 365, and Confluence.
It is a team collaboration application aimed at assisting teams in collaborating, sharing, and accessing all information related to their work from a single place. Founded in 2002 by Atlassian, which is famous for its JIRA and Stash products, the application features include:
- Unlimited workspace
- Page hierarchy and versioning
- Feature-rich content editor
- File storage
- JIRA integration
- Custom templates
- Project and event planning
- Team and personal task management
Pros of Confluence
- It has downloadable and on-demand deployment option
- 24/7 customer support service
- Mobile feature is compatible with Android and iOS devices
Drawbacks of Confluence
- The synchronization module for directory installation method is complicated for many users
- You need to add plugins for archive support as Confluence does not have inbuilt support for archives
It is an Enterprise content management system designed for Unix and Microsoft Windows OS and uses JAVA technology. Its management profile extends to office documents, photographs, images, drawings, and video and audio files too. There are different Alfresco products available to choose from including:
Alfresco community: This is useful for technology enthusiasts and developers
Alfresco One: It is a modified version of the community product and is more scalable and modular
Alfresco Cloud: This is a SaaS version
Alfresco Activiti: This version has a scalable Business Process Management and Java-based workflow platform
Alfresco mobile: This offers mobile document management for Android and iOS devices
Features of Alfresco
It stores and tracks different document types efficiently. It helps to create website content and manages them with ease and is capable of handling paper and electronic documents.
It also offers collaboration tools that let share information, communication and manages products within a team and with customers, consultants, and partners alike.
It enhances workflow with its design, execution, and monitoring feature and has a content repository that stores more content than what a database can hold.
Pros of Alfresco
- Secure and clean web interface
- It has document management features such as audit, search, versioning, metadata, and workflow
- Easy integration with other programs
- Most portable solution
- It can be integrated with SAP, Office, Google Docs, and various other content tools
- Does not have backup features
- User interface needs more automation to provide a good user experience
- Content transformation is not present
- You need to reload your current content to enrich it
Office 365 for business is a comprehensive office suite with cloud capability. It has the entire range of office products, including Word, Outlook, Excel, SharePoint, and others.
Office 365 provides collaboration on One Drive, Office, and Office Online. It can manage calendar, email share files, and office applications at a single place. Businesses can plan team agendas with the help of collaborative to-do lists and calendars. It is compatible with Windows, Mac, Web, Android, and iOS applications and has remote wipe and retention policy enabled complete email exchange and various other security measures.
- It has the most recent and updated office version always
- Easy to access via mobile and desktop
- Fosters collaborative workplace and communication
- A bit complex to learn
- Cloud storage with One Drive is limited to just 5GB
- Hardware needs to be of high quality for the office suite to work properly
- It is slow on Windows 10 and is difficult to navigate
How safe are these document management applications?
While document management applications help in increasing efficiency for how you store, use, and manage your documents, if you are unable to organize the files efficiently with the system, you will end up with too many versions of the same materials, leading to information overload and other access difficulties. Further, with the single point access, the applications pose a higher security risk, making it important to have proper security protection.
While electronic storage and management of documents offer various benefits that improve productivity and ease of use at workplaces, they are sometimes too advanced and unnecessary and may be an expensive addition rather than a valuable one for businesses.
If you find the comprehensive solutions too expensive or irrelevant to your workplace, you can also opt for standalone products, such as Optical Character recognition application that lets you scan PDF and other files and convert them to text format. Cloud storage is another option that allows you to safely (to a certain extent) store your documents.