A document management system  is a program or sets of programs to store electronic documents and electronic images of paper-based information that was captured and converted electronically using a document scanner. CMS have different components that facilitate the method of storing, retrieving, organizing and processing electronic documents. When documents are stored in the system or any information about the document, the metadata is used to help in classifying where it will be filed or stored and how to track and retrieve it.

Diagram of how content management systems work. Image Courtery of quickenwebsites.com

Diagram of how content management systems work. Image Courtery of quickenwebsites.com

The metadata consists of the date and who processed the filing. Additional information and details can be added, scanned and read into the system by a registered user that will enable faster storage and document retrieval. Modern document management systems provide opportunities for businesses, enterprise or any private endeavor to work smarter and faster. With the solid advances in what CMS users have achieved for years, many of the early adopters of the technology faces many challenges with their system today. Most of the early adopters used the most excellent systems at the time, but with technology fast developments, many of these early adopters faces many challenges today. Incompatibility and unable to take full advantage of the recent advances that can save time and money have hounded these adopters. Some may have used software that was appropriate at the time of purchase but at present, limitations that are linked to business growth and changing business needs are rearing their ugly head. Others may have bought poor performing products or go through with vendors with inadequate or poor services. There are cases that outdated CMS can be fixed by buying add-on products that will give leverage to the existing system or software but redundancy may be an issue. One tested solution is to fully integrate the existing software with other CMS vendor’s products. But in most cases, the least expensive and smartest way to do is to just start over or do a complete overhaul of the system. If the vendor’s products and services have limitations or the price of the existing CMS is increasing and hurting your capital, then you need to reconsider and start over. Below are some questions that can help in deciding whether to go for a complete overhaul and take advantage of the many opportunities or just stay on course with your present system:

Is the number of indices limiting the system to categorise your data? It is essential for user and customers having easy and secure access to data on demand. Many of the older systems and some new ones limit document indexing to a number of fields. This may be enough for some small companies, but when the company expands and experience data transfer challenges because of turnovers, it can result in failure.

Logos of the three most popular free content management systems in use today, Drupal, WordPress and Joomla! Image courtesy of www.mnwebco.com

Logos of the three most popular free content management systems in use today, Drupal, WordPress and Joomla! Image courtesy of www.mnwebco.com

Any system that limits any user to a number of searchable fields will result to frustrate employees and auditors. If your current system is giving you limitations, think of replacing your system with a more robust CMS that can simplify processes.

Is your web-based access unavailable, limited or costly? We all know that networked workstations served many companies for years, but today’s users require immediate answers to inquiries. Field personnel and customers will want the convenience of doing business whenever and wherever they are. The business will save and benefit by collecting and delivering electronic information through secure email, online capture fax. Or it can be giving access to information and data that is linked to the business website. Web-based CMS can help you this. This will increase productivity and at the same time lower the travel, courier, postage or shipping cost for the business.

Is your software integrated with the other systems currently in use? A secured access to information anytime at any place is beneficial for everyone in the business. But if you have neglected to integrate your CMS with business or enterprise process management software, this will lower

A screenshot of the WordPress visual editor. Image courtesy of http://xenlife.com.au/

A screenshot of the WordPress visual editor. Image courtesy of http://xenlife.com.au/

productivity and efficiency. An automated workflow will enable jobs and important tasks to be routed according to the business rules. It will also give business managers insight of mechanising any routine procedures and task prioritisation. The digital transaction trail will enhance audits and will make it easier to comply with company regulations. Integration will also eliminate redundancy and avoid errors. If your current system doesn’t have any integration into your current software, then its time to change.

Does the vendor provide support with integration or just provide tool kits? Many companies have tech savvy IT personnel, but most of them do not have the expertise and experience or the human resources in handling very complex integration projects that involve multiple software, telecommunications and other type of systems. The vendor toolkit may do the job  for basic integration, but for businesses that require growth and expansion, great expertise, considerable time and specific knowledge are essential to make it work. Professional service skills are needed to enhance the ITs know how, if its just basic integration. Or you can go for an enterprise-scalable CMS that includes an application programming interface

Are you limited to the Dealer’s software knowledge? Dealers will have knowledge about the products they sell, but may be as informed as the vendors whose products they actually represent. If the dealer is able to get the right information just like the vendor’s expertise, then your inquiries may be answered and the needed support may be provided. But if the dealer’s knowledge about the product is limited, then you may be limited in what you can do and achieve with the software that you have, even if it is the best software.  You have to make sure that your dealer has the knowledge and expertise about the products and the experience working the vendor’s products that you have chosen. An inexperienced dealer may result in losses in

This might be you if you don't overhaul your system. Image courtesy of www.cmsmyth.com

This might be you if you don’t overhaul your system. Image courtesy of www.cmsmyth.com

terms of unnecessary expenses, production loss and wasted time.  It may be more profitable to start with a new system that is developed, designed and fully supported by your chosen vendor.

Are there any increase in maintenance, support and licensing cost? If your vendor is purchased by a bigger company that produces a competing product, it is possible that the parent company will not support your current vendors’ products any longer than necessary before it merges with the parent company’s products. It is typical that the parent company will charge a higher rate if you choose to continue using the existing products and will leave the existing clients no choice but to  migrate to the parent company’s product line. You can defer or postpone any upgrades until the support and the maintenance protocols have been clarified. If you see more expenses in maintaining your current system, then it will be better to look for a new system.

Is your current vendor charge extra for needed features? You get what you pay for and if your CMS vendor is requiring you to pay for any specific reports that you know that you can generate on your own or charged for each user or for web services API calls to retrieve data and information, then it is time to do an overhaul.

Are there any costly fees for any upgrades for  upgrades that you’re using? Any software or system will need to be upgraded, this goes the same with any efficient CMS. Is your vendor charging you extra for upgrades or it is a part of their standard license agreement? Are they offering services that will assist you with upgrades if it involves integration with multiple systems? You have to make sure of the cost are within your means. Make sure that the vendors’ upgrades will not hinder the business progress. Don’t wait for any failure to happen. Make a game plan. Analyze your system needs and evaluate your options. If you decide to start fresh, make sure that your vendor  has the reputation, ability, desire and the needed commitment that will meet your needs. This will help you succeed in the very competitive and cutthroat marketplace.    

About Author

Jon specialises in research and content creation for content marketing campaigns. He’s worked on campaigns for some of Australia's largest brands including across Technology, Cloud Computing, Renewable energy and Corporate event management. He’s an avid scooterist and musician.