Articles & Editorials

How to Assimilate a DMS into a Modern IT Model

Most document management software (DMS) vendors sufficiently describe their product offerings, but it’s very seldom they explain how DMS works within the context of a preexisting IT infrastructure, particularly when it comes to how departments within larger organizations are impacted by DMS deployment.

In a survey administered by the Compliance, Governance, and Oversight Council (CGOC), 98% of IT and legal stakeholders asserted that “defensible disposal of information” was a desirable trait in information management, bringing DMS’s automated document retention and deletion feature into the spotlight. However, as to be expected with emergent technologies like DMS, incongruence between the technology’s capacity and usage exists, particularly in IT departments:

The CGOC noted in a white paper that “85% of retention schedules included electronic information.” However, 77% of respondents to the CGOC survey said the contents of these “schedules were not actionable in their current form, or could be applied only to paper, requiring manual intervention to bring these schedules to fruition.

This suggests that despite the belief that DMS is difficult to integrate into contemporary IT systems, retention schedules and other routine IT tasks can be simplified, made actionable, and automated through DMS—reducing workload and inefficiency costs for IT departments. Companies interested in On-Premise(s) DMS and that already have a preexisting IT infrastructure should take special note of the following steps when it comes to implementing DMS for their organizations.

Common DMS Implementation Mistakes

As is the case with most technologies, all mistakes made with DMS implementation and initial use can be pinpointed on a continuum of either behavioral mistakes or technology mistakes. Although no mistake is purely behavioral or purely technological, any mistake made with the implementation of DMS contains both technology and behavioral mistakes to a certain degree.

Common Behavioral Mistakes

Even though automation is a large part of document management, DMS cannot be potentiated in and of itself—its positive impact is derived from how organizations utilize the technology. For instance, an example of a common behavioral mistake is failing to learn about and identify the goals of a new DMS, which can be costly, for it will then be difficult to use the features necessary to maximize return on DMS investment.

Furthermore, changes are often not adequately communicated throughout the silos of each organization, and even more frequently plans are not implemented to integrate DMS solutions into the routine processes and performances of employees.

Common Technology Mistakes

An example of a technology mistake as it pertains to DMS would involve selecting a scanner with a lack of Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which can lead to digitization of documents in unsearchable format, making information irretrievable.

Finally, it’s imperative to avoid selecting a DMS solution with inadequate data backup, which can occur in two ways: inadequate multiple points of data presence, temporally inadequate backup (which should occur as frequently if not more frequently than every 24 hours).

Additionally, not understanding the functions of DMS can hinder long-term investment in the software, which is where its revenue is.

Workflow Considerations

Efficiency and effectiveness, as they pertain to DMS workflow, are often terms used interchangeably despite their different meanings. Effectiveness in a workflow is most important, because an ineffective process can be done very efficiently. In order to avoid structuring an efficient but ineffective workflow process in the chosen DMS, diagnosing problems in old workflows, primarily the workflows which existed before implementing a DMS solution, is imperative.

Not only is workflow a drastically underutilized DMS feature, it is arguably the most crucial DMS feature for effectively mapping strategy after the implementation process, for it redefines the management process by identifying, tracking, and tabulating the results of projects and collaboration.

Workflow is also bi-directional and user and group specific, and creates accountability at each stage of a team’s task completion cycle. Specified users can move files to different parts of the workflow as desired.

The most sophisticated On-Premise(s) DMS solutions, and the up-to-date, Online, Cloud-Based DMS solutions will be able to track workflow once they are implemented, but either of these DMS models will retain the ability to create and start multiple workflows in the system, help determine the order of these workflows, and manage the workflows accordingly.

Going paperless can be somewhat disruptive, but shared drive migration to DMS is not the disruptive component of the implementation process; information architecture, however, is. The first step in architecting an effective workflow for a DMS solution is to identify existing workflow, then problems with workflow, then costs associated with these problems, then gaps in existing workflow, and finally, ascribing a dollar value to the gap in this workflow.

Just as a physician would not prescribe treatment (DMS) before diagnosing a malady within the body’s process (workflow), an organization cannot effectively implement the best method for workflow creation.

Mike is the founder and editor of CMS Critic. He consults with vendors and the public to help them find the right products for their websites and businesses. When he's not working here, he's off mixing cocktails for his wife's website, The Kitchen Magpie. You can check out some of his great cocktail shots over on Instagram.