Many consumers went paperless before organizations matched their efforts, so there is some understandable confusion about how emergent, commercial grade technologies like the document management system differ from consumer-grade technologies—especially since many industry authorities are also unclear about the differences, given how much the popularity and innovation behind each technology has grown.
Although a document management system does not include the word “enterprise” in its name, unlike Enterprise Content Management (ECM), DMS is still classified as an enterprise-grade technology, particularly for small to mid-sized organizations. This distinction is as important in terms of understanding DMS’s functionality as it is in ensuring that an organization implements the technology it needs to improve internal processes.
For example, many consumer-grade solutions like Dropbox.com or iCloud storage enable buyers to primarily store, compress, and share information in the Cloud for future access. These are affordable features to nearly any consumer. Since these technologies are simple extensions of a file server, many think a document management system is akin to these technologies, functioning merely with the bandwidth of a shared drive one would find on a typical operating system. However, this assumption does not do justice to the breadth of versatility and functionality that DMS employs.
For instance, the only security the aforementioned consumer-grade technologies offer is a login requirement. Even if DMS is likened to an encrypted flash drive’s technology, it still wouldn’t amount to baseline, standard security features of traditional DMS—because this flash drive, depending on the transactions of an organization, may need to be shipped via snail mail to a physical address, opening up the floodgates for human error in the snail mail process, such as sending to wrong addresses or potentially damaging the flash drive with poor shipping and handling.
Although both consumer-grade and enterprise-grade Cloud-based solutions have similar benefits, such as circumventing the snail mail process and removing unreliable back-up processes on compact discs, DMS accomplishes far more than this, even when viewed only from its security features’ perspective.
For instance, DMS is designed to accommodate compliance from the organizational standpoint via built-in security features, organizationally streamlined workflows, and highly encrypted client-sharing portals for sensitive information in transit or at rest, whether internally or externally. These features accomplish far more than the consumer needs—helping organizations avoid the lawsuits wrought by the interception and breaching of sensitive information.
Furthermore, DMS solutions, as enterprise-grade technologies, help retrieve the correct documents and data very quickly and supply regular, automated backup to data centers with multiple points of presence—making the breaching of corporate or organizational information a near impossibility. These document management system-specific backup features also ensure information continuity for organizations in the event of natural disasters or office break-ins, whether occurring in a central or remote location. Additionally, the storage capacity of enterprise-grade solutions is far greater than those of consumer-grade technologies.
Therefore, although the typical document management system is more expensive than consumer-grade technologies, it has greater comparative cost-effectiveness as its features are designed to benefit entire organizations, not households.