For many companies, the DMS introduction is the basis for their digitization strategy. These systems are often used for many years after acquisition and successful introduction. Therefore, the decision for a system should be well considered. Good preparation includes taking stock, i.e. analyzing the current situation in the company, and defining the goals of the new solution. Involving employees at an early stage is important for a successful introduction.
Therefore, take some time and inform yourself before you decide to implement a DMS. The following information and checklists will help you make an informed decision. This information is based on many years of experience from the introduction of hundreds of DMS systems. We attach great importance to a goal-oriented and risk-minimizing approach. The future-proofing of the solution is of high importance and ensures that you will be successful in the long run after the DMS implementation.
Go through the following checklist step by step &ndsh; so that the introduction is successful.
In essence, a DMS system should store documents in digital form in a structured manner and make them easily available to the user again. In addition, documents and e-mails can be imported and integrated into third-party software such as an ERP system. In detail, there are a multitude of different requirements behind this.
When preparing for the introduction of a DMS, you will notice that most of the document management systems on the market are very similar when it comes to functions and features.
The background to this is that the systems are often several decades old and have become much more similar in their range of functions as a result of increasingly fierce competition.
Accordingly, there are many website providing comparisons. These have carried out an as-is analysis of the solutions and compare the functional scopes. Well-rated systems do not necessarily have to suit you. So form your own opinion by comparing it with your goals and your requirements.
Thinking about legal security
In addition to data security and availability, you should also consider legal requirements. Keywords here are the GoBD and the DSGVO. Read here how to archive documents in a legally secure manner. In certain industries, there are additional legally fixed requirements. Find out more about these separately.
Before you start looking at the functions of a DMS, you should define the goals for the DMS implementation.
Try to be clear about which topics are in the foreground for the DMS introduction. Is it purely about archiving mass documents? Do you want to ensure that certain information is protected against unauthorized access?
It may also be that making information available and increasing efficiency through workflows is the main focus. Do you want to use the DMS only internally or should customers from outside also have access? Improving the ability to work in a home office can also be an objective.
Create your own checklist from these questions and clarify it step by step with the providers.
When doing so, avoid general objectives such as „We want to introduce a DMS„ or „We want the paperless office.“ Instead, try to define the objectives as concretely and process-related as possible. For example, „We want to improve the processing of inquiries in sales. In doing so, we want to avoid duplication of work and improve our ability to provide information to our customers.“
Consider essential features of DMS
In addition to functional requirements, non-functional requirements play a major role. For example, an old solution is equipped with an enormous range of functions and has a large number of interfaces. However, due to their age, such systems are often stuck in their old structures and can often only partially meet modern requirements.
When making your decision, think about the further development of your company. Is the new solution likely to be able to cover your future requirements? Is the system fixated on documents? Good process and transaction support is almost always essential for a successful implementation. How time-consuming are the necessary steps for implementation? Can the new solution be adapted quickly and easily, or do you need the support of an expensive specialist for every change? Clarify whether the provider also offers employee training.
The implementation methodology is also important. Is the DMS introduction waterfall-like or agile? The introduction of classic DMS systems begins with the conception. This is followed by implementation, testing and acceptance. This procedure requires a lot of time and money. Implementation times of 3 months to 2 years are normal here.
In practice, the test phase is often followed by disillusionment: employees then often think „but I imagined that differently“. The subsequent steps for adaptation are expensive and time-consuming. After the employee training, the productive operation starts at some point. The employees use the system, but without real enthusiasm. The goals have obviously not been achieved.
Better choose a system that is implemented in close cooperation between the supplier of the system an your employees. Ideally the new system is implementes step by step or process by process. Thereby building up understanding of the system and acceptance.
Inventory / Actual Analysis
An inventory of the existing systems is helpful. In the process, you will also discover the need for interfaces and include them in the planning. After all, you want to use existing data and avoid unnecessary duplicate entries.
Also include an inventory of relevant processes in the analysis. Good process documentation forms the basis for a speedy DMS implementation.
With classic DMS systems, you will limit yourself to the as-is recording of the existing documents. Which documents exist? Where do they originate and who processes them?
The goals of modern systems are the improvement of business processes. The success of this approach lies in the significant increase in employee productivity. It reduces the danger of simply acquiring another file silo with the new DMS.
Interfaces to existing solutions
You probably have existing IT systems. In many cases, interfaces between systems are helpful. Unlike in earlier times, creating a new interface today is no longer expensive and time-consuming. Modern technologies such as REST API enable rapid integration, with planning and analysis efforts kept within limits.
Include modern interface technologies in your checklist. After all, you don't know which system you will purchase in the future. Then it's good if your new solution can interact flexibly with future systems.
What processes are there?
Instead of focusing exclusively on documents, we recommend a process- and procedure-oriented approach. So during preparation and planning, identify the processes that you believe have high potential for optimization. What information and documents are generated in these processes? Where do these information and documents come from? Does communication take place in the processes?
E-mail communication in particular often plays a major role. So, when introducing the DMS, make sure that this aspect is included in your inventory and checklist. Otherwise, you may have a beautiful new DMS, but your employees will continue writing e-mails and drowning in the flood of e-mails.
Inboxes, notes, document templates and forms should also be captured as part of the inventory. Modern solutions even support your employees in task management. This means another improvement. Post Its are a thing of the past. Employee productivity increases significantly.
What else is needed?
Paper documents and paper-based inboxes need to be digitized. Do you have appropriate scanners at the workplace? Today, central multifunction devices can not only copy and print, but also scan. This allows you to use existing infrastructure and avoid expensive new purchases. Make sure the scanners have OCR capabilities. Another point for your inventory.
Do you sign your name frequently? Again, there are solutions that allow you to sign documents digitally and legally. Even though this is the next step, remember to include this in your checklist.
With old systems, DMS implementation usually follows the waterfall principle. This means from conception to implementation, testing, acceptance and employee training. This approach is almost always technology- and function-centric. It often entails rework and is tedious and expensive.
From our experience, we advocate a step-by-step DMS implementation. Start with the process that promises you the highest benefit. With modern, cloud-based systems, you can carry out the system setup agilely together with the employees.
This way, you get quick feedback, find a custom-fit solution and achieve your goals.
Own DMS server or DMS in the cloud
Before introducing the DMS, you must decide whether you want to obtain DMS from the cloud or operate the system yourself in-house. The latter means high investments in hardware, databases and software licenses. In addition, there are operating costs for data backup, maintenance and regular replacement of servers, administration, release changes and software maintenance.
With such on premise solutions, keep in mind that you yourself are responsible for system availability and protection against viruses and extortion Trojans, so-called ransomware.
Operating your own system is costly even in the start-up phase: Hardware and software must be procured, installed and integrated into your IT landscape. The software must be distributed to the workstations. VPN access for mobile access must be set up. All this costs a lot of money and is time consuming. Make an honest inventory here as well, especially of your skills in the area of IT security.
A modern document management system is provided as Software as a Service (SaaS). You simply book the appropriate licenses. These are usually billed on a monthly basis. System provisioning takes place in seconds, so to speak.
The provider takes care of system operation and security. You concentrate exclusively on the technical aspects and the mapping of processes. You save valuable IT resources and significantly reduce the time required for implementation. Incidentally, you can start small with this approach and expand your system step by step.
Conclusion: The advantages of the cloud are outstanding. Companies that already have experience here usually no longer want on premise solutions. If you've heard or read outdated statements, that cloud software has disadvantages compared to programs that need to be installed, read more about DMS in the cloud here.
Minimize risks through agile implementation
The risk of inadequate usage by employees is high. It is important to avoid this at all costs. After all, you are investing a lot of money and want to operate the DMS for many years.
Increased analyses, inventories and even more planning are not the solution. Even the most ticks on the best checklists do not guarantee a successful implementation.
In our opinion, the better method is to simply test the new solution on your specific task. Modern systems and providers allow you to test the solution free of charge. If this first step is convincing, start a pilot project in the second step.
Make sure that this pilot project is carried out with very manageable costs. Think of these costs as insurance premiums or training costs that help you build competence and make the DMS implementation a sustainable success.
In the pilot project, you are mapping an important core process with the new solution. Invest in employee training and put this process into production.
Now you are a big step ahead with the DMS implementation. Is the system running as expected? How do your employees rate the system? Are the planned goals being met or are the first improvements noticeable?
If everything feels good, you have most likely selected a good solution and a good provider. Continue to expand the solution and thus lead it to success step by step throughout the company.
If you don't achieve your goals in the pilot project, pull the ripcord and end the project with an honest review. You have invested some time and money. In return, you have gained tangible insights and avoided an expensive bad investment when introducing the DMS.
Customizing, i.e. setting up the system for your specific requirements, is carried out in classic DMS systems by specialists. As excellent technicians, these specialists depend on good business concepts. These technical concepts are written by your employees during the DMS implementation. This inevitably results in a silent mail effect with the consequence that the finished system often does not meet the expectations of the users.
In contrast, it has proven ideal customizing the new system together with your employees and the vendor's experts. This is done step by step in joint workshops. In these workshops, your users explain the processes and the vendor sets up the system accordingly.
In this way, errors can be identified quickly and corrections implemented immediately. This approach is fast, cost-effective and leads to a good solution that has a high level of acceptance by employees.
Successful DMS implementation depends on employee acceptance. It is precisely this acceptance that you will achieve by involving employees as described above. The new solution is then presented to all employees in an employee training session.
In addition, other features have a positive effect on user acceptance.
A DMS implementation is successful when your employees use the new solution intensively and you realize high time savings in their daily work. In addition, you regularly adapt the new solution step by step to new or changed processes. Ideally, this is done ad hoc &ndsh; without much analysis or inventory &ndsh; quickly and cost-effectively.
Many DMS implementations are not successful in this sense. They have invested a lot of money and time in preparation. Nevertheless, the users use the solution only reluctantly and to a limited extent. You have learned from the DMS implementation that any change is painfully complex and expensive. Therefore, you do not make any changes to the system and use it unchanged even though your processes have changed in the meantime. Instead of saving time and optimizing processes, you continue to have poor processes and additionally high costs for operating the system.
To prevent this from happening and to ensure that the DMS implementation is a success, risks must be systematically minimized.
Classic DMS systems often have conventional Windows user interfaces. These confront the user with a multitude of nested menu items.
Much more intuitive are interfaces that are designed similarly to apps on smartphones. Here, the user is only offered the menu items that make sense in the respective user context. The interface is clearer and more clearly structured. It supports the user effectively. They can familiarize themselves with the solution step by step.
If you opt for a cloud solution or a SaaS offering, you can use the solution on any end device immediately after the introduction of the DMS. All you need is a browser. The user interface automatically adapts to the size of the screen.
Employees love this way of working. They can easily use the solution at any time and from any location and access all relevant information.
After the DMS has been implemented, it is important to continuously adapt the solution to changing processes. The easier it is to implement such changes, the greater the long-term success of the DMS rollout. Before making a decision, be sure to check how costly changes to the system will be. Do you need an expensive expert from the manufacturer or can your IT department or employees in specialist departments make changes themselves?
How time-consuming are these changes? Setting up a new process can take weeks or even months. At worst, you start with renewed inventory and analysis followed by painfully expensive implementation. Modern cloud solutions simply adapt to changing conditions. In this way, your solution remains up-to-date and shows sustainable success.
Collaboration and completeness
Generally, the better a DMS system supports your employees in their daily work, the more they accept it. It is therefore essential that processes can be completely edited within the new solution.
If your employees have to resort to using e-mails due to a lack of editing options, acceptance and productivity will drop.
Introduction, training, support in case of questions
In addition to the software itself, the software provider is of great importance. It is ideal if the DMS software, the introduction and the training provided come from one source.
The availability of support is also important. Can your employees reach a hotline of the manufacturer themselves? Are knowledgeable people there to provide advice and assistance? Are step-by-step instructions also available in the form of video tutorials? Of course, a classic manual should not be missing either.
Compare Software Providers
Is a pure DMS enough for you or should it be a modern solution that effectively supports process management and transaction processing? Do you need a simple standard system or a solution that can be flexibly adapted to your individual requirements? An enterprise solution is always worth considering if you are a large company with many thousands of employees and locations in different countries.
If you are considering a cloud solution, try humbee 30 days free of charge &ndsh; get to know the document management and all other features &ndsh; see how easily you can automate your processes and save time and money.
Our support is also available free of charge for the trial version. Together we will clarify how a successful DMS implementation works and adapt the solution to your structures and requirements.
Most of the time, you focus on your current needs and requirements during the DMS implementation. Nevertheless, make sure that the new solution will be a sustainable success.
Every company and every organization changes. The future security of your investment therefore depends to a large extent on the flexibility and ability of the new DMS system to support completely new processes and technologies. Therefore, at the time of the decision, it should have a modern architecture, a modern user interface and, above all, open interfaces using the latest technology.