Some companies find that managing document management systems in-house isn’t the best option for their particular needs. They may be under pressure to comply with industry-related or governmental regulations but don’t have the initial cash that if often required for a state-of-the-art document management system.
These companies may find it useful to consider having a state-of-the-art document management system that is hosted remotely. The benefits of doing so include less cash upfront and a system that is even more powerful and more secure than the systems that can be afforded in-house. This type of option, often referred to as Software as a Service (or SAAS) may be the right option for many companies that can’t currently place their priorities on the revenue or manpower required to install and operate a state-of-the-art document management system.
SAAS Document Management Systems: A Few Considerations
Once a company has decided that SAAS document management systems are the systems that can meet their needs it’s important to consider the reliability, cost, securities, and maintenance plans that will accompany the solution.
The reliability of document management systems is of obvious importance. Internet access time and availability must be important concerns since SAAS document management systems are often (by necessity) web-based. When looking for a solution you can ask yourself if the provider allows for more than one upstream bandwidth path and how they eliminate online traffic interruptions. Ask what security appliances they use (Cisco Pix, etc.) and if they provide primary and secondary DNS (Domain Name System) services. How they power their electricity supply is also of the utmost importance. Is the supply an uninterrupted power supply and do they provide fire suppression systems?
When it comes to cost, users can really benefit from a SAAS solution. Users should look for a SAAS solution that has only small to nothing upfront costs and reasonable monthly fees. Make sure the monthly fees are fixed and get that in writing!
Responsible software providers/hosters wouldn’t dream of hosting sensitive documentation without state-of-the-art securities but make sure your potential host has a private network and firewalls that are monitored around the clock. Firewall logs should also be audited regularly and intrusion detection service is valuable. Make sure to talk with other customers who currently use the SAAS document management systems you are considering. See if the provider’s document management systems have ever been seriously compromised.
All system maintenance should obviously be provided by the host. Make sure that document management systems maintenance include software installation, configuration, application upgrades, anti-virus protection, system patches and network backups (on a daily basis). The host should obviously monitor hardware and software environments for connectivity, performance and uptime.
Many companies can benefit far more from the benefits provided by SAAS document management systems hosted remotely than they could benefit from an in-house system. These companies need to really conduct their due diligence however in finding the right host. Trusting sensitive documentation to another company isn’t easy; the ultimate decision should be based on the facts.