Though there have always been disputes over on-site infrastructure (on-premise) vs. cloud, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly accelerated the shift to digital transformation and the fast-growing adoption of cloud solutions, including document management systems. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, two years of digital transformation happened only in 2 months. To maintain their businesses, arrange remote environments, and manage their files and documents, companies have had to switch to cloud computing solutions. And it’s not strange that the document management software market is significantly growing: it is expected to reach $10 billion by 2025, almost twice compared to 2019 with almost $5 billion.
Among the reasons behind the demand for document automation are the following:
- an issue with missing documents (it costs companies $20,000 per employee annually).
- time-consuming processes (decrease overall staff productivity to 21,3%).
- collaboration over documents via email (92% of business leaders do so).
Hence, we can outline the main advantages of document management systems and how your company can develop a custom DMS to meet your specific business needs.
Cloud document management system: Key points to consider before building your own
In this section, we will define the meaning of cloud DMSs, their value, and major benefits and determine the essential features you need to consider before getting started.
What is a cloud document management system?
A cloud-based document management system denotes a singular system or software responsible for storing, tracking, and managing electronic documents in different formats with the possibility to be modified by different users. With this system, users can optimize and streamline their document management workflows and enhance productivity. Functioned as a central repository, DMS can be integrated with other cloud-related management tools.
What are the benefits of cloud document management systems?
There are a set of benefits DMS can bring to your business, including security, scalability, integration possibilities, etc.
- Quick deployment. Compared to an in-house system, cloud-based DMS does not require appropriate equipment and related management protocols. Everything you need is to create user profiles, set up security authentications, and integrate with third-party apps.
- Easy scalability. Compared to traditional on-premise infrastructure, a cloud environment allows the infrastructure capacity to grow appropriately with the increase of documents. Therefore, you can easily do so whenever you need to scale up your storage.
- Enhanced security. Cloud-based document management providers invest a lot of attention into the integrity and privacy of data. Therefore, robust DMS includes such security features as automated deletion, digital archiving, automated backups, role-based user permission, etc. (More on that in the following sections).
- Workflow improvement. When your files are located in a shared repository, users can easily access them at any time, share, and manage them once they get permission. With a document management system, you can track users’ activity, review history, and have a holistic view of all the document processes. With the possibility of responding immediately to the documents and managing them in real-time, companies can provide employees with better collaboration, ensuring productivity and making workflows significantly efficient.
What are the key features of DMS?
Your business processes determine the features you may want to be included in your DMS system. In the list below we’ve placed the most common features.
- Consistent organizational hierarchy. With fluent and coherent file organization, users will be able to find files quickly and efficiently manage their workflows. To prevent an unstructured file system that can be complex for a user, it is important to select an appropriate logical structure of the directory. The most commonly used in document management systems is a tree-structured directory since it allows the creation of subcategories and proper organization of files for each user.
- Solid search functionality. Search engine plays a significant role when content is growing. DMS has to contain extended search functionality allowing to search documents by categories (date, files, last changed, etc.)
- Version control. Since multiple users can have access to the documents and files, the system has to ensure tracking, updates, drafts management, providing a step-by-step record of document history.
- Templates for file creation. This feature allows users to optimize their working routines and generate appropriate files and documents using ready-made templates which can be customized accordingly.
- Offline access. Providing users with offline access prevents them from sudden internet connection issues allowing them to view and edit documents at any time.
- Access control. This feature allows for managing permission controls for specific users and collaborative access to the document where users can work simultaneously.
- File conversion allows users to select the required file type and download it.
- Device compatibility. Once building a DMS, your developers have to take care of accessibility of the system across different platforms and devices, which serves as a warranty for user experience.
Is cloud document management safe?
Cloud document management providers are extremely cautious about providing security measures and regulatory compliance. Such features as encryption, automatic backups, role-based control allow creating copies that can restore data and limit access to specific users or groups.
Also, as mentioned above, version control is a required feature for your document system, especially when you want to eliminate your concern about documents safety. Incorporate version control to have a total view of the file history with the possibility to revert unwanted changes or document removal.
It is obligatory to maintain regulatory compliance for each industry. Therefore, cloud-based providers pay significant attention to compliance adherence. However, there are highly-regulated industries possessing information, for instance, healthcare (a vendor has to comply with HIPAA and HITRUST CSF) and finance, that have strong privacy concerns about their records and transactions. In this case, there are private cloud, multi-cloud and hybrid environments available, ensuring a more profound security level.
You, as an owner of the company, should take your users’ behavior under control in the cloud environment, and to keep documents safe, adhere to the following tips:
- Encrypt all your network data
- Use multi-factor authentication
- Implement electronic signature
- Back up your data frequently.
Custom cloud document management system: reasons to develop your own
In order to understand whether your business needs a custom cloud document management system, we suggest you compare ready-made solutions vs. custom ones. As you can see above, each ready-made solution offers its own set of features and benefits and a fixed price for a particular package.
While some businesses may benefit from off-the-shelf DMS solutions, others may find them unsuitable for their specific needs. With its universal functionalities, ready-made cloud document management systems can fit a variety of businesses, but when it comes to customization and highly specialized features, custom DMS maybe your best-fit alternative. Furthermore, those services included in the package may turn out to be excessive.
Users interact with the system via the UI/UX and having it customly developed resolves many issues for users. Ready-made systems do not have such flexibility in interface customization which might influence how convenient the system is. Custom DMS allows users to benefit from unique UI/UX specifically tailored to your needs.
One other huge plus for the development of a custom DMS is that it will easily integrate with any of your company’s adopted software. If you have CMS, CRM, or ERP systems that need to be seamlessly synchronized with your new cloud-based DMS, custom software can be integrated with it without constraints.
How much does it cost to develop a cloud-based document management software?
There are two ways to host a DMS – on-premises or in the cloud. In both cases, the DMS can be customly developed and the price for the development may vary depending on the complexity of the solution.
The price for custom development of DMS depends on several criteria:
- Business requirements
- Scale and scope of construction
- Legacy systems and integration requirements
- The complexity of the project
- Number of team members involved
- Level of expertise of team members
- Development timelines
- Methodology of development
- UX/UI design complexity
- Incorporation of tools
- Third-party integrations
The type of cooperation with the development team should also be considered. If you don’t have any tech expertise in-house, then end-to-end software development would be a viable option for you. We specialize in turnkey software development which includes discovery and MVP development, so we can consult you on your specific case.
Then there is also a price for hosting the solution which has to be taken into account. It depends on the amount of storage space needed, business size, security enhancements, number of features, and other special requirements.
Depending on the complexity of your cloud-based DMS, the hosting can cost from 10$ to 200$ a month per user and can be paid on a subscription basis.
To get an accurate estimation of the project costs, you can consult our specialists, who will develop a detailed strategy for your project with consideration of your current business goals and the desired features.
What to consider before developing a document management system?
As mentioned before, your unique business goals and requirements define the primary and secondary features required for the software. A well-elaborated project roadmap is a driver for successful project fulfillment. Check our tips on how to build your DMS.
- Assess the current workflow in your company to determine strategy requirements. It is important to evaluate how the communication process between departments is performed and whether to make it standardized or customizable. Analyze how the documents are stored, processed, reviewed, etc., the gaps, what can be added or amended to optimize document management processes. Once you understand your current workflow, you can proceed with the elaboration on the strategy for your online document management software.
- Start a discovery phase and set up precise requirements. What functions does your DMS have to perform? What are the industry regulations your company needs to comply with? At the discovery phase, we establish accurate goals and visions, possible threats and risks, identify architecture, tech stack, and more.
- Build up a strategy. After analyzing your past issues and complexities with documents, it’s time to redesign business processes and develop document management procedures and guidelines. At this stage, you need to distribute users’ roles and responsibilities to streamline document management processes.
- Systemize your current documents. In order to successfully get started with document management software, it is recommended to clean up unnecessary documents and organize them accordingly. For this purpose, use tags and metadata pertaining to best digital storage practices.
- Regularly train employees. If it is the first time your employees use online document management software, it is worth providing appropriate training to make them comfortable while using the system. This will lead to streamlined workflows and a more productive team force.
How we helped an enterprise to save £400k per year with a cloud DMS
One of our clients, a large investment company based in London, required a solution that would solve their problem of manual document generation that was costly and extremely difficult. The enterprise has several projects from different domains – finance, property, healthcare, renewable energy, and charity. The law requires them to back up every operation with a contract, letter, or document, and this data is sensitive.
The cloud-based document management system had to solve this problem and not only move their documentation to the cloud for safe storing but also help generate new documents automatically.
We helped this client to tackle their legacy systems, utilize the power of the cloud and digitally transform their enterprise. Beginning with the development of highly scalable and maintainable server architecture, our team developed the back-end of a solution. The system collects data from various internal company services and then automatically generates documents of different types and formats.
Following the implementation of an internal document management system, our client’s organization saves nearly £400k of its expenses per year.
4 the most commonly used cloud DMS for business
There are a variety of cloud document management systems available on the market. To select the best option for you, come up with the features explicitly required for your business and prioritize the main ones.
Overview: Google Drive is one of the most affordable and easy-to-use cloud-based DMS to create and store documents, spreadsheets, presentations, and upload files from the hard disc.
- Cloud-native collaboration
- Easy-to-use for an average user
- Extensive storage for a variety of file types
- Integration with Google and outside apps
- Easy synchronization across the devices
- Off-line opportunities for certain accounts
Pricing: The first 15GB is free. There are three paid packages: Basic (100GB) for $1.99, Standard (200GB) for $2.9, Premium (2 TB) for $9.99.
Overview: DocuWare is one of the earliest and leading document content management systems founded in 1988. It is aimed at businesses of all sizes and specifically designed across various industries.
- Intelligent indexing to securely store documents
- Automated invoice processing
- Centralization of employees records
- Advanced encryption standard
- Extensive solutions for finance businesses
- Provides electronic signatures
- Offers integration with approximately 500 applications
- Solid customer support
Pricing: Free trial. The basic plan is priced at $300 per month for four users with 20 GB of storage.
Overview: M-files is an AI-based platform designed as a single access point allowing users to automatically connect different types of content no matter where they are saved without the need to migrate data from different sources.
- Electronic signature integrations/network files integrations/integrations with Hubshare, Salesforce, Google Workspace,
- Microsoft 365
- Data encryption
- Co-author documents
- Document indexing and retention
- Automated workflow
- Automated metadata tagging
- Offline access
- Designed for a range of industries
Pricing: Offers free trial. M-files has unique packages depending on the features your business may need. Therefore, the price varies with the consideration of the number of features and users that will be engaged in.
Overview: Confluence is an upgraded version of Google Drive. It is an open team workspace built by Atlassian where users can profoundly collaborate on different types of documents, campaigns, and projects that are organized in pages and spaces.
- Intuitive page hierarchy
- Advanced search
- Over 75 customizable templates
- Real-time editing
- In-line ad page comments
Pricing: It offers free storage for ten users. For growing teams, there are paid packages available: Standard ($55 per user/month), Premium ($105 per user/month), Enterprise (billed annually). The package depends on the features and admin controls.
Nowadays, SaaS (software-as-a-service) tends to be a driving solution for companies of all sizes, mainly due to the pandemic impact. Document management systems allow companies to optimize their workflows, cut costs and easily scale up whenever needed. While some businesses prefer ready-made solutions, other companies opt for customizable systems that are at the company’s disposal.
Developing your own DMS may require more investment initially, but in the long run, it will be cost-effective since you do not need to pay for additional features regularly (as in the case with off-the-shelf providers) that you will not use. Moreover, custom document management systems allow adding the features that will be specifically useful for your business.
For businesses looking for simple, easy-to-use solutions that will be applicable for average users, there are various products on the market that offer free trials or free packages.
If you need consultation or hesitate which option will best fit your business needs, contact us – we are happy to assist you.