Most Electronic Document Management Systems have been server based products, wherein the documents, document management application and database are all stored on a local server in the company premises.
Like most software, companies are now offering cloud or software as a service based document management solutions.
Instead of needing to consider how your employees will remotely access your documents through a traditional server, things are much easier when documents are already available online through a cloud based solution.
However, if you need to integrate your solution, an on premise server might be best. There are pros and cons to both options.
Cabinet NG, a leading provider of document management solutions, offers some tips in how to choose a cloud based computing solution.
Financial – what are the short-term and long term costs associated with the two approaches? In simplest terms, internal solutions require a bigger upfront investment while SaaS costs are typically spread out over time with monthly payments. Of course the SaaS costs may seem like they would be much higher than internal costs over time, but considerations must be made for IT time spent maintaining the server and providing backups. These costs can be incremental if your IT department is already maintaining a group of servers, or they may be major if you aren’t setup to handle the ongoing maintenance.
Deployment – what are the steps taken to get the systems up and running for your business? One of the bigger advantages for SaaS is the ability to get the software up and running very quickly, as opposed to a longer path for internal deployments, particularly if new hardware is needed.
Integration – what are the capabilities (or maybe limitations) of SaaS vs. internal? It is important that you think about how you want your document management system to integrate with other applications that you use in your business today. In general, it is easier to integrate software programs that are deployed on the same network, so the internal approach gives you some advantages if you are looking for strong integration with software that you already have running internally.
Security – are there security differences between the two approaches? The answer is yes. If your documents are stored on a local server, then it’s a relatively simple matter to secure access to the server and limit the ability of people to do things to the server. However if you don’t have a good IT person in charge of your security there is the potential for security breaches. If you adopt a SaaS solution you are basically entrusting your provider to ensure the security of their solution is adequate to protect your data. This should be an important consideration in your selection criteria. On the vendor’s side, it’s in their best interests to provide a secure solution as they would be out of business rather quickly if they do not approach this in a professional manner.
IT Philosophy – does your company embrace internal solutions or are you going “virtual”? For some companies this is an easy decision. Either they have all internal software or everything is in the cloud. For these companies the decision is simple and they just have to find the vendor who best meets their needs. For other companies that use a mix of SaaS and internal systems, the decision is more complicated and may depend entirely on the feature set of the available products and how they match the needs of the organization.