“One size fits all” doesn’t apply to document management implementations. Not every document management problem will have the same solution—and, as a result, the implementation process will look different for different organizations.
But all successful document management implementations do have one thing in common: preliminary planning.
When you plan your implementation ahead of time, you’ll save time, reduce stress, and ensure successful document management for years to come.
Why Have a Document Management Implementation Plan
Document management is an umbrella term that covers a wide variety of needs. In order to narrow the focus of your implementation, it’s important to have preliminary conversations about your organization’s needs.
After all, you'll have the most success if you create a document management implementation plan upfront.
Implementations falter without proper planning. And no one wants to undergo a document management implementation twice. So, get it right the first time.
Your organization’s needs for document management could be a number of things. As you consider your needs, consider the following.
For one, there’s the document management lifecycle:
For another, there are other factors within the lifecycle. You might have a lot of paper documents you want to capture and manage digitally. Or maybe you want to capture IBM i files in the same repository as your Windows files. Or maybe you just need to create some web-based fillable forms to capture data. But you might also need to take that data and turn it into an invoice. While you’re at it, you might need to deliver that invoice somewhere, anywhere, digitally. Or you might even just need a way to capture signatures electronically.
As a result, your document management implementation might not be exactly like another company’s document management implementation. And that’s okay.
Your software vendor should be able to talk through your needs with you and help you figure out which components of document management are right for you.
What to Plan For
Before any implementation can get started, there are three steps you should plan for:
- Discussing your processes and goals with your vendor
- Determining which components of document management are right for you
- Establishing a timeline with your vendor
Step 1: Plan to discuss your processes and goals with your vendor. There are two crucial questions that you should be prepared to answer right off the bat.
> How are you currently handling documents and forms today?
> What do you want that process to look like in the future?
Step 2: Once you’re able to answer those questions, you can move on to determining which components of document management are right for your organization.
Step 3: Once you’ve discussed your needs and components of document management, then your vendor can develop and deliver an accurate timeline. Based on your needs, your implementation might be turnkey: install the software and get up and running. Or, it might require more planning—for instance, if you need to integrate multiple systems or establish a workflow process.
Taking the time to plan your document management implementation at the beginning actually saves your organization time in the long run, because you’ll be certain the solution delivers everything you need.
Ultimately, the success of a document management implementation is not in the software itself: it’s in the expertise behind it. If your vendor isn’t an expert in understanding your processes, you can’t be certain the software is the right fit for your organization.
Recommendation: Choose software backed by experts who consider it their job to understand your organization’s process and make your job easier.
How to Approach a Document Management Implementation
Before your implementation begins, you should receive a clear plan from your vendor. This plan should answer your most pressing questions about the implementation process.
What will the implementation process look like?
There are three core phases to an implementation: preliminary planning, implementation, and live software. Your vendor should deliver a plan during preliminary planning that will clearly outline the implementation. And, you should also have accurate expectations for how the software will improve your processes.
No matter the scope of your project, you should have a clear idea of what the implementation will look like before it begins.
How long will it take?
You should receive an implementation plan from your vendor that details the timeline for the implementation. It might be turnkey, it might be quick, or it might take just a tiny bit longer to get it right.
What should I expect from my vendor during implementation?
Clear communication, regular updates, and an implementation that stays on track. You should never be in the dark on what your vendor is planning.
What will I need to do on my organization’s end?
Typically, you should have a team involved at your organization throughout the course of the implementation. Your team shouldn’t be charged with technical duties, by any means. But, it’s helpful to have people on the ground at your organization who understand the software and best practices for using it.
How much will it cost?
The cost of a document management implementation is usually proportional to the scope of the project. Simpler, turnkey projects will have lower price tags. Meanwhile, projects with a larger scope may carry a larger price tag. Once you’ve developed a plan with your vendor, you should have a clear expectation of the cost.
What if my organization’s needs change during implementation?
Sometimes, unexpected needs arise over the course of an implementation. The need might be to expand document management to an additional department, or it might be to incorporate a new feature to the project.
The right vendor will be able to roll with the punches, incorporate the new needs as appropriate, and indicate how the unexpected will impact your implementation plan. No matter what the unexpected is, you should expect clear communication with your vendor about how to tackle it.
Having confidence in your vendor’s plans and the implementation itself will reduce any document management-related stress your organization has.
Recommendation: Be sure to select a vendor who can answer your questions up front and make the implementation process run as smoothly as possible.
What to Expect After Implementation
Installing software is one thing, but making the most of it is quite another.
After implementation, you should expect your vendor to walk you through the software, advise you on best practices, and explain how to get future questions answered.
It’s essential to choose a vendor who has the backing of experts who can guide you through the ways that software will help you speed up your processes, manage your documents and forms digitally, and change the way your organization thinks about documents.
You should also be able to count on the support team at your vendor to answer any questions you may have as you use the software. When you have a support team you can rely on, you can count on retaining successful document management for years to come.
Recommendation: Ask your prospective vendors what type of support you’ll receive post-implementation.
See how your organization will benefit from revolutionizing your document and forms management processes.