Should I Save My Documents to My Line-of-Business Application?
We are constantly talking to organizations that have a line-of-business software that has a feature for attaching documents to it. A common question that we are asked is if they should save your documents directly to that application. There are pros and cons of doing this, so let’s take a look at each.
The Advantages of Saving to Your Line of Business Application
The most obvious advantage of saving your images directly to the software is that the image is readily available when you are in that software. Typically, these images are associated with a particular transaction, such as an AP invoice that is saved to a client page in your accounting software. When you are in that particular screen it is easy to access that image for viewing. It is also a way to organize your files so that you can always find it. The process works great for ad-hoc scanning and storing of images. It is simple, accurate and easy to find. It also requires little to no investment as many software packages include this feature at no additional cost. For an extra charge, some software may have embedded workflow for routing documents for an approval process. I personally do this with our CRM software. It allows me to save relevant documents with my client files.
But Be Aware of These Potential Issues
It may sound as though saving your files to your line of business application may be the way to go, but beware that there may be some issues with doing this. First, if you want to share your attached files with other people they will most likely need to be licensed for that software. Second, if you wish to restrict access to only a few individuals the software may not provide that level of security. Another thing to be careful of, is how the images are being saved. Some software will save the images to the database as BLOBs (binary large objects). This method of storage could have long term ramifications as it affects the size of the database. Eventually this will impact the overall performance of the systems and create issues when backing up the data.
The most significant issue you may run into will not be noticed until you decide to migrate to a new software package. Moving data from one system to another can be challenging. But when you add images to the mix, it can quickly become cost prohibitive or in some cases impossible. I have seen this first hand and it is never a good situation.
What are the alternatives?
Consider using a separate, standalone document management solution. Many of these systems offer open APIs or other interfaces to integrate with third party software. They are designed specifically for storing your images such as PDFs, TIFFs and JPGs. Many offer workflow ad- on modules to help route documents from person to person. And all do this with more sophistication and reliability than a line of business applications.
Size Does Matter
If you have large volumes of paper or digital content that you need to save, you definitely need to look at a true document management solution as well as advanced capture software. This combination will provide an efficient means for scanning, indexing and storing information into the system. These systems are also designed to accommodate large volumes of storage and high user traffic. They provide the necessary tools to secure your information and create backups of all of your information to provide added protection.
Finding the Right Shoes that Fit
There are all types of document management solutions available today. Both cloud and premised based solutions provide you with flexible options for where your information is stored. Many include mobile applications for Apple and Google devices allowing for secure access from almost anywhere. And nearly all provide straightforward and affordable means for removing your data from the system should you ever want of need to move to a different platform. Finding the correct system for your needs will ultimately save you time, money and a lot of headaches.