A Better Overview of the DMS Market: How to Find the Right Software for Your Business

Do you want to digitalize your document management or update it with a modern solution? This isn’t a simple task, as the range of possible solutions is incredibly large and often not very transparent at first glance. In this blog post, you’ll learn how the current market is shaping up in a brief and clear manner.

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A Quick Glance Back

If you’ve been interested in topics related to business communication and the digitalization of business processes for a while now, you may remember the discussions about the “paperless office”. In the 1990s, this buzzword reflected a vision for the future; a future that would move away from paper towards digital document management.

For a long time, this topic was the subject of much public ridicule. Although an increasing number of digital devices and processes were being introduced on every corner, paper consumption in Western societies continued to rise. A study from the time challenged the technology skeptics with a more than 100-year-old quote from the former U.S. President Rutherford B. Hayes on the invention of the telephone: “Who would ever want to use a phone?”

A Boom in DMS Demand

The authors of the study were spot on! As digitalization continues to progress, electronic document management is becoming as natural as picking up the phone. After all, the “paperless office” is no longer a distant reality. According to a survey conducted by the industry association Bitkom in 2020, one in ten companies with 500+ employees is already working paperless.

There’s a fascinating dynamic behind this figure. For example, between 2016 and 2020 alone, the proportion of companies that switched to electronic invoice exchange rose from 7 to 26 percent. Over the same period, the share of businesses looking to completely replace their letter post with digital communications grew from 39 to 86 percent. Digital document management is one of the hot business trends of recent years.

The Reasons for the Boom

Why is this? On the one hand, companies now see that non-digital document management disrupts processes and makes a mockery of digitalization initiatives. On the other hand, the tools used in document management have come a long way over recent years.

The document management systems (DMS) of today:

  • Are easier to use
  • Boast new features
  • Are better suited to collaborative teamwork
  • Can be used at home, in the office and on a smartphone
  • Can perform tasks in an automated manner
  • Can be conveniently integrated into other digital business processes via APIs
  • Are available as state-of-the-art cloud services with flexible subscription models

In summary, the question today is no longer whether document management should be digitalized, but how.

Challenges When Choosing a DMS

Until a few years ago, companies seeking to select a suitable DMS were faced with the choice of installing a complete enterprise content management (ECM) system or selecting small-scale DMS solutions tailored to specific use cases. In practice, the large ECM solution proved to be too rigid and complex in many companies, while a smaller DMS wasn’t sufficient for the end-to-end digitization of all document workflows.

Another challenge is the confusing market situation. The increasing demand for digital DMS solutions has also led to a huge range of software solutions available on the provider side. Although this is fundamentally a good thing, it does mean that decision-makers and project managers entrusted with the acquisition of a new DMS are spoiled for choice!

How to Approach Software Selection

Essentially, you approach the selection of a new DMS for your business in the same way you would any other major software purchase. We can divide it into four steps: analysis, comparison, selection, implementation. This means:

  • You determine the individual needs of your company
  • You get an overview of the products available on the market
  • You match the offerings with your requirements and commence the selection process
  • You implement the right solution for your needs in your company

In the following, we will focus on the first two steps with respect to selecting a DMS solution.

Free DMS requirements specification

Does this sound complicated? We’ve created a detailed template in the form of a Word document that will guide you through the various requirements you should look out for when implementing a DMS solution. Download it here free of charge.

free dms requirements specification

Needs Analysis

Before you start getting lost in the extensive feature lists of the various DMS solutions, you should determine the actual requirements of your company. The best way to do this is to use project management to create a comprehensive requirements specification detailing your company’s document management needs. It’s essential that you include all relevant stakeholders in this requirements specification from the very outset.

In the requirements specification, you record exactly what requirements a DMS solution must have so that it can be implemented in your company and subsequently handle all tasks it should perform. The requirements specification takes into account aspects such as the schedule, available budget, technical requirements such as any interfaces that may be required, necessary features or issues related to the maintenance of the software.

DMS Provider Comparison

The primary purpose of the requirements specification is to coordinate all your company’s requirements for the DMS project and to have them in front of you in black and white. It doesn’t really matter if a few things are still unclear at this point; the requirements specification only needs to be really watertight when you present it to a specific provider for them to prepare a binding offer. At this stage, it serves as an initial guide to help you compare providers.

The second tool we’ve created for you is a white paper with a clear, editable Excel list that you can utilize to compare up to ten providers. This list is also available to you free of charge. The list is structured in such a way that you can, for the most part, compare the scope of services offered by different DMS providers by checking boxes or entering some brief details.

You can usually find the relevant information quite easily via the providers’ websites. The finished list then provides an excellent basis for internal discussions on selecting the most appropriate provider for your business.

Free Provider Comparison

The accompanying white paper guides you seamlessly through this process with explanations for each position and gives you additional useful tips on the selection process. You can find the white paper including an Excel template for the provider comparison here.

free dms provider comparison
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