1. October 2018

6 Steps to a Successful DMS Implementation

6 Steps to a Successful DMS Implementation

More and more medium-sized enterprises are coming around to realising the advantages of a Document Management System (DMS) but many are still wary about DMS implementation. Some companies believe that lots of processes and structures will be changed, and that all sounds like too much work. The reality is, implementing a Digital Document Management system not only simplifies everyday work processes, but also ensures a more effective and efficient work environment for everyone involved.

Making the decision to implement a document management software is a great first step along the road to achieving a paperless office. Plenty of planning is required to ensure a successful DMS implementation in any business. The company’s current situation, possible problems, goals, needs, all of this information needs to come together in order to find out the best approach.

What makes working with a DMS so valuable for a company’s business processes?

In the digitization era, it is important to be able to access emails, documents and appointments anytime, anywhere; and to be always available even when on the road or out of the office. An electronic document management system (EDMS) simplifies production processes, printing costs and ensures more productive, faster and simultaneous business workflows. Versioning and stamping also allow for full traceability of work processes, minimizing the time spent on file searches. A successful DMS implementation can allow you to completely optimize your customizable business workflows too and keep track of all business processes.

So how do you go about tackling the daunting aspect of DMS implementation in your company? Which processes should you consider? Here we explain how you can roll-out electronic Document Management Software in your company in 6 steps.

Checklist for a successful DMS implementation

1. Make the decision

Sounds easy, but this is an important step into your office digitization project. All of the relevant parties need to be informed and educated about this, as well as support the decision to embark on a DMS implementation. This is the only way to ensure that your digital document management system will bring you the results and long-term gains that your company is looking for. Identify the opportunities that a modern digitization project can bring to the business and motivate your staff and colleagues: this is the best way to dispel possible worries or fears.

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“Employees are often afraid of a new way of working or they might just feel disregarded in the decision-making process. Do everything in your power to avoid this situation. Try to inspire your colleagues.” Catharina Petry, AMAGNO Project Manager.

The aim is not to reduce the number of employees by using a DMS, but to promote a less stressful, more enjoyable environment at work and drastically reduce everyone’s workload. An enterprise EDMS can bring quick, competitive advantages and you’ll be able to see the difference in productivity. Everyone involved in the DMS implementation project needs to be fully aware, right from the start, that the introduction of a digital document management system is not going to happen overnight. It should be a planned, continuous process, that is in constant development. If you decide to carry out a DMS implementation in your company, take it easy, do it steadily, and find a supplier that can work at your pace.

Remember that working with a document management software requires technical know-how. On the one hand, your hardware should meet all necessary requirements so that the DMS implementation can be carried out smoothly, and on the other hand, it is always recommended to install regular updates to keep your key enterprise software updated. At the beginning, you should assign someone with the role of key-user who will then go on to manage processes, keep an eye on the bigger picture, shares knowledge and information with the rest of the colleagues and who most importantly of all, makes sure everyone enjoys dealing with the system.

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“This key-user doesn’t necessarily have to be someone from IT! There are often plenty of options from other teams or departments who have experience with projects like this, and the right mindset to keep everyone motivated. From our experience, we also find it very useful to define cross-departmental responsibilities, so that the DMS implementation project is shared across teams.” Sascha Müller, AMAGNO Project Manager.

2. Analyse the State of Play

This is a straightforward and in-depth assessment before you even begin to think about DMS implementation which examines and describes your company’s current file and document situation, as well as the flows of information, and business processes. It is important to depict the current situation as accurately as possible because everything that comes after this will depend upon this analysis!

Which areas have problems that need to be optimized? How many documents and files are duplicated and then modified and reused? Is there expensive real-estate or office space being used just for storage?

Collect all your information together and work on your company’s “needs” as well as the “wants” as a team. This seems superficial, but the success of your DMS implementation project depends on it.

3. Defining Goals

When looking at a suitable enterprise document management system, the kind of questions you need to ask yourselves as a company is “which processes need to be improved and mapped out?”. Talk about the positives and the negatives of your current processes, and work out the benefits of DMS implementation and how your digitization project will improve your company on the whole.

“It is really important to define your requirements as clearly as possible. Going through a DMS implementation just to store and search through all of your company’s documents is of course feasible, but it is far from exploiting the full potential. It is usually much better if the team think about what your company actually needs in terms of processes, storage, workflows and collaboration options, so that you can really plan what you want to implement.”

At this stage of a DMS implementation project timeline, it is important to examine all technical aspects and the measures that will need to be taken. E.g.: how should company or departmental documents be organized and structured in order to achieve the desired goals? Who will have the access rights and who will be responsible for knowledge transfer within the company? Do your best to involve as many of your employees as possible, in order to work out solutions together and to make your decisions as a team.

4. Look for a Supplier

DMS suppliers are – like we say here in Germany – “…like sand at the beach!” There are simply loads of options. Suppliers differ with their individual user interfaces as well as with their range of functions. For this reason, you should choose the provider that best fulfils your requirements and goals, most importantly when it comes to DMS implementation. Even if a product has good reviews, it is useless if it doesn’t meet your companies wishes and goals. Since electronic document management is supposed to make daily work easier and promote more enjoyment at work, think about what most users will prefer to use. Do you think that they will be happy using an outdated, clunky and awkward programme, day in, day out? Don’t you think they might prefer a clear, intuitive and modern-looking software application?

Once you have an overview of the existing DMS companies, find the top 3 providers that meet your needs. Contact the providers and talk about your preferences and requirements. If needed, the providers will offer you a workshop in which they will work out your ideas, giving you plenty to think about ahead of a potential DMS implementation. This will give you professional input that will help you get ready for your transition to a paperless office!

These kinds of workshops often provide information on how processes can be best mapped, designed and improved upon. Many companies also offer the opportunity for you to test the software with your desired range of functions, before committing yourself to the DMS implementation.

5. DMS Implementation

You’ve finally decided on implementing a document management system! The DMS implementation is certainly one of the most exciting parts of your transition to a modern, digitally efficient, paperless office. Files, folders, archives, invoices, and even blueprints and images are sorted, scanned and indexed in the document management system, giving you a complete overview of your documents, as well as enabling you to find things much quicker than before.

With a customizable DMS you can keep things as close to your current working style as you like, so that your employees feel comfortable working with the new system. This will result in happy, productive teams, highly motivated with the successful DMS implementation, feeling more productive than ever before!

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6. Work and Workflow Adaption

Once the installation and DMS implementation is complete, workshops can help employees get up to speed with the new system. Expert tips, successful feature demos and work simplification suggestions can even convince the most sceptical of team members and help everyone enjoy the transition as much as possible. Data chaos, piles of paper and tons of emails will soon be ancient history…. implementation carries on day by day, and employees learn to use the DMS to their advantage and end up taking the initiative to optimise even more company processes and workflows.

Some employees complain that they are forced to abandon their “classic” folder structure way of working after DMS implementation. However, many EDMS and ECM software solutions offer the possibility of integrating the DMS into the classic File Explorer, just like if it were a network drive. Nevertheless, it should be explained clearly that the “classic” folder structure in network drives causes more problems than solutions. A well planned DMS implementation will get rid of the problems of folders within folders within folders, or not being able to find the right version of a file, by using innovative features such as “tags” for your documents to enable flexible and dynamic search structures.

A successful DMS implementation can save your company massive amounts of money if you are realistic, and plan things enough, and of course, if you use the features as much as possible!

Are you interested in a document management software and an enterprise content management solution? We would be happy to work with you on your company’s digitalization! We look forward to hearing from you and would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

translated by Salvatore Coppola-Finegan

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Jana Treptow
Jana loves writing and communication. That's why she is responsible for the editorial contributions and the maintenance of the blog. She is also the contact person for all press issues.

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