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By 8 April 2014 | Categories: Managed Services

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There is still a somewhat parochial view of multi-function devices – the doorway to a successful document management system (DMS) – which are regarded as glorified photocopy machines. It is with this in mind that we spoke to leaders in the industry to define and quantify DMS and the role of it in business today.   

Warren Locke, B2B marketing manager at Canon South Africa, believes that document management as a concept has gained significant traction locally over the past few years. This is largely due to the need for safe storage, clever processing and organising of information, and then on-demand retrieval of this business critical information. “Coupled to this, in the technology age, there is a need for quicker, more organised and searchable digital information.”

Andrew Griffith product manager for office products at Konica Minolta echoes this sentiment, noting that effective document management system (DMS) will have a massive impact on business in all sectors going forward. “Over the years, we have seen a massive uptake of document management across the board, with primary drivers being increased efficiency, productivity, cost saving, security, and compliance. In an ever increasingly competitive market and constantly strained global economy, document management has become an imperative, not an elective.”

Evolution - the biggest difference

Over the last few years technology has advanced at a rapid pace facilitating a plethora of new, cost-effective service offerings across the board. “The evolution of products to cater for specific vertical markets is the biggest difference,” says Locke, “as well as the capability of the product to integrate and/or interact with other third party software pro-ducts.” From a vendor perspective, this integration capability is a vital component within the DMS business model, and, according to Griffith, a big part of the obligation to clients and customers.

“We do not just provide you with a cost-effective productive means to output business documents, we must also, as part of the same deal, provide you with a means to capture and organise that business content. This we do by integrating our devices directly into back-end systems like ERP, document management systems, content management systems, workflow and others.”

Griffith believes the intelligence is already in place and that the platform is there to really customise and structure how business content is captured and stored in your environment. “The software is merely a platform. It provides a bridge that allows you to connect directly to your ERP system. The important part of that software is your capability from a development perspective. You have to customise the solution according to the customers’ needs and this requires specific and distinct development. This ability to plug into other systems means you can use your current infrastructure without having to install new solutions and go through the arduous process of change management and retraining. It forms part of a total business system,” he notes.

Lexmark professional services manager, Stefano Cimenti, agrees with this observation and believes that the product offering, across the board, has grown tremendously as tailored solutions are becoming readily available. “This has made DMS more appealing as it addresses a larger number of business challenges. The technology and its abilities to work for the intricate processes of a business has matured over the last couple of years to truly offer value to organisations by addressing issues with ever growing document management needs in a simpler and more cost effective way.”

True value to organisations

The concept of DMS seems indispensable in business today but one gets the impression that it is strictly the domain of large corporate entities with deep pockets. This does not seem to be the case though: due to the scalability and customisation options inherent in the concept, all business owners can take advantage of the benefits on offer.

Delving further into the question, Cimenti says that, initially, DMS were designed primarily for corporates with substantial amounts of data/documentation and complex processes to make it a feasible investment. But today DMS vendors have adapted their products to cater to the SMME segment. By allowing the solution to start small with minimal investment, SMMEs can deploy DMS on a smaller scale and incorporate additional business units and processes as and when their business needs grow.

Griffith expands by noting that the very logic behind the technology means that, whether you are a big company with 5000 people, or a small business with five employees, the benefits are the same. “Access, storage and distribution pertaining to your business documentation is as necessary as if you were a big corporate. Even our entry-level devices have the capability to integrate into whatever backend you are using so that we can build the business intelligence to manage your business content.”

And to the cloud

Looking ahead as to what we can expect in the area of DMS, Locke believes that more and more services will be delivered via the cloud. “This is the current trend which allows the solution to function in the required way without the need for capital investment in expensive hardware and/or storage space.” Cimeni expands upon this by noting that there will soon be additional options to cater for mobile and cloud computing, addressing not only business challenges but requirements at a user level.

While DMS seemed to have been a clunky, cumbersome and complicated system not so long ago, it has become a viable, and indispensable business tool going forward. Costs have come down, accuracy has gone up and, according to the experts, we can expect more improvement in the years to come.

DMS: Check the right boxes

When looking to implement your own DMS there are a number of boxes to check while going through the process. First and foremost is the ability of the supplier or vendor to tailor-make solutions that fit your specific needs. “In terms of hardware, a customer needs a clear understanding of their current IT infrastructure, its capabilities and limitations, inclusive of servers, storage, network, WAN, multi-function devices and workstations,” says Cimenti.

“Regarding the software, this needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis and factor in enterprise resource planning (ERP), customer relationship management (CRM), enterprise content management (ECM) as well as legacy systems and the interconnectivity with other potential solutions as they might want to expand the solution offering at a later stage.”

Cimenti further notes that it is imperative that a customer understands any solution limitations upfront. With most document management solutions, the implementation is only part of the cost, ongoing consulting and changes going forward make up a large part of the total cost of ownership and will impact the solution’s ROI. “Customers must ensure to discuss and define this clearly with their vendor upfront to avoid any surprises in the future.” 

Sponsorship: Hyland Software

For over 20 years, Hyland Software has helped our more than 12 000 lifetime customers by providing real-world solutions to everyday business challenges. That dedication is why Hyland realises double-digit growth, and why 98% of their customer base continues to renew its annual maintenance.

Hyland’s enterprise content management (ECM) solution, OnBase, is one of the most flexible and comprehensive ECM products on the market today. OnBase is tailored for departments, but comprehensive for the enterprise, designed to give you what you need today and evolve with you over time. For more information about Hyland Software’s ECM solutions, please visit www.hyland.com.

Konica Minolta South Africa

Konica Minolta South Africa is a leader in advanced document management technologies. Wholly owned by the Bidvest Group, the company focuses on complete business solutions, including production print systems, digital presses, multifunctional products (MFPs), managed print services, vertical application solutions and related services and supplies.

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