In-Depth Look at the Features that Matters

We designed this segment in a table format for your convenience

Go ahead and use this table to consolidate your findings of the various document management systems offered in the market. The contents within the roles are written to be easily understood even by a non-technical reader. 

The best system is one that meets the needs of the operating environment

Different companies have different needs when it comes to the process of capturing information into an EDMS (Electronic Document Management System). Some companies may only have to deal with electronic documents such as PDF, text, spreadsheet, and presentation while others require the EDMS handled high-resolution scans from microfilm scanners or specialized files such as AutoCAD. In some cases, it is the availability of minor functions (E.g., Auto removal of blank pages after scanning) that decides the winning product.

Capturing Of Information into an EDMS

This section covers how documents and information is captured by an EDMS. With this initial step of capturing information, it kickstarts the lifecycle of a document within the system. Go through the table to see which function is relevant to the needs of your operating environment.

The common channels of how information is captured includes:

  1. Scanning, 
  2. Upload/ Import and 
  3. Syncing with Outlook (For capturing of emails)


Functions & purpose they serve Is this an important feature for your use case?
Automated filing after scanning

If scanning and digital filing of scanned documents is a common everyday task in the office then the feature of automated filing is important. The cumulative time and effort saved will be significant.

Here is how it is commonly achieved. The scanner will place the scanned document into a “holding folder” on the desktop which is constantly being monitored by the EDMS. The EDMS will then attempt to identify the document based on patterns or pre-set rules to automatically move the document into the correct folder within the depository. 

Automatic Image Enhancement of scanned documents

The common improvement includes automatic noise removal, rotation and most importantly contrast adjustment to make the text more readable. This will also increase the accuracy of the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) function (we will elaborate more about OCR in following sections).

The EDMS should also allow users or administrators to turn off automatic image enhancement if needed. As there will be times where the objective is not to increase readability but to preserve and capture the document in its original form. E.g. historical photographs.
For the purpose of productivity and to assist co-workers who are not as tech-savvy, can the administrator set the default enhancement to apply for all future scans? With this, scanning is simplified and users do not need to fiddle with the settings every time.
OCR functionality

OCR (Optical Character Recognition) is the ability of the EDMS to extract text found in images. Example: when we scan an invoice into the system, an EDMS with OCR functionality will be able to obtain the invoice number and company name from the image of the invoice, and index the invoice number together with the image. In future, users can find the invoice in the EDMS by merely searching for the invoice number or the company name. 

Some advanced scanner or copier machines have OCR functions built-in and are able to embed text files into the PDF during the scanning process. In this case, we do not need the EDMS to have OCR functionality.

Does the EDM have OCR functionality built-in? Or do we have to depend on the OCR capability of the scanner/ copier machine?

If OCR is a vital function, it is crucial that you test the system with the actual documents that your department encounters every day. 

Only consider systems that deliver accurate OCR performance. A system with poor OCR technology can be a burden instead of an asset as it is prone to generate errors.

Is it able to pick up the text from low-resolution images? What is the minimum resolution it needs? Is this sufficient for the existing images that we are looking to digitalise? (New documents will not be an issue as we can scan according to the resolution needed)

Can we specify the specific area on the forms to perform OCR? E.g, the top-right hand corner where we can find the Invoice number and date.
Other than OCR, does it support Barcode or Optical Mark Recognition capabilities?
Metadata capture

Will the DMS be able to handle metadata generated from the scanning, or will it be lost? Metadata includes contextual information such as date/time of the scan.

Adding pages to existing documents. 

Can we scan additional pages into existing documents?

How will the EDMS handle the process of adding pages to existing documents? It is important that the EDMS will automatically keep a copy of the old file before adding the new pages. This will allow the old file to be retrievable by users when they check the version history.

The naming convention of scanned documents

Can we specify the naming convention of the file names? E.g. [user]-[date]-[time].

Removal of blank pages

Will the system be able to remove blank pages automatically? On the flip side, can users or administrators turn this off?

Can administrators set a default behaviour so that users do not need to keep revisiting this setting?
Generating a PDF format alongside the native format

When we upload files into the document management system, it is preserved in its native format, e.g., DOC, MP4, Autocad, XLS & PPT.

Good EDMS will keep a copy of the native version and generate a pdf copy alongside it. This pdf copy is useful as it 

  • The PDF is useful as it allows the EDMS to generate a fast preview of the document for the user to conveniently and quickly view the information within the built-in document viewer. 
  • The PDF copy also ensures that the document is readable years down the road when the native app to open it is not readily available. E.g. in the year 2020, we will struggle to find a terminal that runs Word Perfect or Lotus 1 2 3.
Identification of fixed patterns

Is the system able to identify fixed patterns? E.g., to identify SXXXXXXXK (Alphabet followed by seven digits and another alphabet) as Identification number.

Recognition of document type though fixed patterns.

Is the system able to identify what form it is filing, e.g., purchase requisition, leave form, etc.? Some EDMS can do this by making sense of the data on the form or by recognizing the standard template form.

Creation of new folders during import.

For the convenience of users, Can the user create folders or send a request for the folder to be created from the import dialogue?

Integration with Windows Explorer and My Computer.

Can users send a document into the EDM directly from within Windows Explorer or My Computer?

Ease of upload

What is the upload process? Is it a form with minimal fields or simple drag and drop (Dropbox style?). Both are fine what is essential is that the process should be easy and convenient for users.

MS Office Integration

Can I upload a document from within MS office programs such as MS Word, Powerpoint, and excel? Are there plugins that support this.

Snippet Preview

Is the DMS able to extract snippets of texts from the document to automatically fill in metadata and document title in the event the user does not specify it?

Language support

Other than English, what language can the system handle?

Can we increase or expand via language packs?
Is there Unicode support to handle non-English language?
Scheduled batch upload

Can upload to repository be scheduled? E.g., in the evening, So that valuable computer resources are not taken up.

Email metadata

Does the EDMS support email metadata, and will these metadata be extracted upon upload or capture? Email metadata includes the date/time of sending and if the email comes with attachments.

Integration with MS outlook

Can we secure email directly from within MS outlook? Is there an email plugin?

Are we able to see at-a-glance which email thread has been archived and which has not?
Working in a team setting, are my colleagues who are in the conversation able to see if the email has been archived or not?
Handling of Email threads

Will the entire conversation be captured so that users can grasp the context of the email quickly?

Email attachment

How does the system handle attachments? Will a copy of the attachment be filed together with the email thread as well?

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