Time and time again, we are approached by prospective customers who want nothing more than to escape the shackles of their existing system and find a better document management system. They’re frustrated with their legacy system’s functionality, interface design, and the “customer-no-service”. Having experienced the drawbacks of their existing systems, they are easily attracted to one with a user-oriented design, broad range of solutions, and that is backed by the helpfulness of everyone in the organization, most notably the support department.
Unfortunately making the transition to a new document management system is not always a straightforward process. Many document management or document imaging systems on the market today are engineered to support bulk import of documents while completely ignoring support for exporting files and supporting data.
There are a number of reasons why companies need the capability to convert from a document management system – aside from simply being dissatisfied with the application. Several of these other examples that have impacted our customers (some converting to Document Locator, others away from) include company mergers, document turnover at the end of a project, permanent archival to other media formats, selling a business line, and more.
Having flexibility in the document management system to allow for bulk export is important. For prospects and customers with issues converting from their proprietary legacy systems, this warning comes too late. However for anyone in the document management market researching solutions, I have some telltale warning signs to watch for that could lead to difficulties down the road:
- Storing documents with file extensions that differ from their source application
- Backend database requirements outside of the mainstream relational database products such as Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, DB2, and MySQL
- Stores data in a flat-file database “like” system
- Proprietary compression or encryption techniques are used
- Product does not offer an API (Application Programming Interface) or SDK (Software Developer Toolkit)
- Built-in viewer technology that displays the images using non-standard file formats
- Bulk export tools are not built into the base product
Awareness of these warning signs upfront can safeguard that your data will not be held captive in a document management system. We have worked with some not-so-lucky customers whose only option for converting from their legacy document management system is to manually print each document (to paper or PDF) and then to re-key in the index information. Other customers have provided us with samples of their encrypted files or their database that no one remembers the password to asking that our professional services team run decryption cracker technologies in hopes they can free their data. Please do not let this happen to you.