Select the Right Document Management System (DMS) for Your Firm – Part 1

Your firm has decided that implementing an electronic document management system—or, if it also includes the ability to automate business processes , an enterprise content management (ECM) system—will help lower costs and increase productivity. However, with so many different ECM and document management systems out there, it can be hard to select the right one for you.

Here are three questions you need to answer before you even begin to look at the document management and ECM systems on the market:

1. What are your firm’s goals for the document management or ECM implementation?

This is an important question to answer because you need to know what you want to achieve before you can identify the functionality that your new document management or ECM system must contain. A few of the most common goals for implementing a document management or ECM system include:

  • Efficiently capture information and automate classification, eliminating the need for manual sorting and processing.
  • Securely and efficiently search, retrieve, scan, store, email, and manage multiple types of content, including but not limited to electronic and imaged documents, emails and audio-visual files.
  • Automate content-related business processes such as case management, contract management or accounts payable processing.
  • Archive records and apply formal retention schedules for effective information governance.
  • 2. Do you want your document management or ECM system to integrate with the other software applications your firm already uses?

    Although document management/ECM can be used as a standalone system, it has the most impact when it can be tied to existing applications, allowing staff to access the document repository through their primary systems (e.g. ERP, EMR or CRM). For example:

  • Wealth Enhancement Group, a Minnesota-based financial planning and advisory services firm with locations throughout the upper Midwest, has integrated ECM with its Junxure CRM system to improve client service, decrease paper usage and accelerate audits.
  • Hanson McClain, an independent investment advisory firm headquartered in Sacramento, has integrated ECM with DocuSign, LaserApp and its CRM system to automate their client onboarding process.
  • Virginia-based Palladium Registered Investment Advisors has integrated ECM with its portfolio management software to accelerate and improve new account opening.
  • If integration is important to your firm, you must ensure that the systems you evaluate have an open architecture, and that the vendors you are evaluating have experience with the type of integrations you will require.

    3. How much in-house document management expertise do you have, and how much do you need to cultivate?

    A document management or ECM system can dramatically improve your firm’s information management and business productivity, but too many systems demand extensive domain expertise from expensive programmers, analysts and consultants. By looking for a system that fosters individual knowledge and expertise through the use of prepackaged code, active developer and support forums, downloadable templates, preconfigured workflow activities and an active user community, firms eliminate the need to rely on outside experts.

    To learn more about how to evaluate a document management system, download your copy of “ Document Management: The Buyer’s Handbook .”