Usability Differentiators in Electronic File Software
Despite usability being a subjective benefit open to user interpretation, it matters just as much as other criteria for Electronic File Software (EFS) selection.
Choosing a product with a simple, responsive graphic user interface (GUI) will make for greater usability and quicker training for employees, as it will be grounds for spending less time on training and service costs.
An intuitive GUI with an instant access icon in the best electronic file software will also enable fast content retrieval and reduce content search times within the EFS. Vendors will also have systems providing the cloud-based technology and mobile integration to utilize documents from anywhere at any time, furthering specific systems’ case for usability.
Another determinant of an EFS’s usability, particularly in the initial phases of implementation, is whether it expedites the import of preexisting documents and content to its platform from an organization’s shared drives.
Many vendors offer these services and products, but the speed and functionality of these add-ons vary drastically among vendors.
Usability, however, is most important for the leadership teams within an organization because they are the individuals whose roles are most affected by the product’s usability.
A manager’s ability to benefit from EFS use depends primarily on the workflow feature outlined in the previous section, because it automates task completion processes that managers previously had to construct and monitor on a manual basis.
Gartner notes in its Magic Quadrant that ECM technology (akin to electronic file software) and service selection will also be determined by Information Technology leaders in the Asia-Pacific context via the following criteria:
- Local presence of the principal vendor
- Local post-sales support and established partner alliances
- Extended product evaluation cycles: Inherent to the Asia-Pacific region is the need to evaluate a solution offering (not just a product) for extended periods (sometimes months or years, not just weeks).
- Access to local case studies and organizational reference
- Support for local standards and regulatory requirements
- Language support across the multi-byte character sets (MBCS)
Distinguishing Third-Party Add-Ons from Integration
Oftentimes prospective EFS users and preexisting users alike have difficulty distinguishing third-party add-ons from software integration to the electronic file software.
Simply put, third-party add-ons are the technology itself as it is integrated with an EFS solution, whereas integration is a term used to measure the effectiveness of these add-ons.
A vendor with many third-party add-ons that do not integrate well with its electronic file software is likely inflating the price of its product to users, while a vendor with many third-party add-ons that integrate well with the solution is giving its customer a fair deal.
Although third-party add-ons complicate training, once learned by employees, they expedite these same procedures.
Defensible Disposal and Retention Dating in Electronic File Software
The Compliance, Governance, and Oversight Council (CGOC) noted that 98% of IT and legal stakeholders believe that the “defensible disposal of information” was a desirable trait in information management, bringing EFS’s automated document retention and deletion feature into the limelight. However, as to be expected with misunderstood technologies like EFS, an incongruence exists between the technology’s capacity to deliver and usage models, particularly in IT departments.
The CGOC noted in a white paper that “85% of retention schedules included electronic information.” However, 77% of respondents to the CGOC survey said that the contents of these “schedules were not actionable in their current form, or could be applied only to paper.”
This means manual intervention was required to bring these schedules to fruition. As evidenced, the results of the survey suggest that despite the belief that electronic file softis difficult to integrate into contemporary IT systems, retention schedules and other routine IT tasks can be simplified, made actionable, and automated through EFS—reducing the workload and inefficiency costs for IT departments.