Document Management and the Road to 100%

Software selection projects are never easy, mainly because it’s generally difficult to find a solution that meets 100% of your needs.   You usually have to be willing to give something up.  Some aspects are non-negotiable, and others are “nice to have”.   Sometimes, though, the ROI for a particular piece of software is dependant on pretty much 100% of the requirements being met.   In these cases, very little is negotiable.

We’re currently looking for a document management solution for us to use internally as well as for a couple clients.   We’re in one of those “non-negotiable” places.

We’d like it to be hosted.  It needs to work in a browser and not require a whole lot of software to be installed on workstations.  It needs to be easy to use.  It needs to be affordable, reasonably fast, and cost effective.

We should be able to get documents into the “document repository” via scanning, dragging and dropping, printing straight to the repository, saving “as”, or emailing into the repository.

We should be able to search by any text in a document or by “key fields” (indexes) that the documents carry with them.

There should be work flow capabilities — that is, if a document has “X”, then “do this”.   For example, if a document hasn’t been “approved”, I should be able to have a rule that sends it to a particular person via email for that approval.

It should integrate with my key applications like Sage MAS 90 or MAS 200 or SugarCRM.   This means, for MAS 90 purposes, if we’re on an AP Invoice History Inquiry screen, we should be able to click on a button and the original document magically appears.   For SugarCRM purposes, if I’m on an Account screen, I should be able to click on a button and have all documents appear related to that account.

It should integrate with Outlook, so I can easily attach a document from the repository to an email.   It needs to integrate with Word and Excel so I can FILE-OPEN a document directly from the repository and, of course, SAVE-AS a document directly into the repository.   In a perfect world, I could see the repository through Explorer on my desktop.

Can the files in the repository be stored in their native format?  Or, do we have to deal with some proprietary format or everything being converted to TIFs or PDFs?

I should be able to post notes to the documents that can be printed or omitted from printing with the documents.   We should be able to fax or email documents straight from the repository.

Because it’s hosted, I should be able to get an on premise backup from time to time.   This would make me feel better about the hostedness 🙂

Document Management is a critical application for the cloud.  When done right, it means we can get any document at any time anywhere.    When done right, it means we don’t have to worry about saving documents into the right folder or even with the right filename.   We wouldn’t have to worry about overwriting existing versions or worry about backup.   A strong document management solution will pay for itself quickly, potentially eliminating the need for a file server as well as manual storage systems and increasing speed and efficiency in accessing documents.   However, if any of the above requirements are not present in a solution, the ROI aspect takes a hit.

To date, we’ve found solutions with 70% or 80% of the features we need.    The road to 100% is lonely and not always the right road, but in this case…it’s the place to be.