Buyer Beware: 6 Things to look out for when considering storing your documents with your DMS
When you were a child did you ever ask your friend to hold your backpack and then were in a game of keep-away when you wanted it back? YOUR backpack, with YOUR school work, YOUR school planner and other important belongings is being held captive by someone else. And if you were really unlucky with your choice of friends, they threw it in the street or did something terrible to it. Did your stomach drop when you realized they weren’t going to hand it over easily? How would you explain this to your parents? Unfortunately, businesses like yours have experienced this in a real way with their business documents. Their DMS handled their customer data, so why not add on the scanning and document storage as well?
Chances are that you have already been contacted by your Dealer Management System (DMS) sales rep to add additional services. Scanning and document storage has likely been offered. All you have to do is lease the all-in-one copier, scanner and fax machine and a marginal increase to your monthly service fees and you’ll be set. Before you sign on the dotted line, we want you to be aware of common pitfalls our customers have run into.
Document Scanning and Storage vs Data Imaging
Before we get started with things to look out for, we should identify the different document storage options available. Is your DMS offering document scanning and storage or data imaging? These two components are very different.
Document Scanning and Storage
- Your staff is scanning signed business documents using a copier/scanner
- You purchase or lease a copier/scanner
- You scan and later shred the originals of your documents
- Your DMS is creating printable pdf documents of your transactions (accounts payable checks, parts tickets, service repair orders, etc)
- You do not need an additional copier/scanner
- You are retaining paper copies of signed physical business documents
1) Proprietary Format
Your documents are yours, simple enough. Your DMS may have opted to create their own proprietary file format. This means that while you are a customer, your files are easy to find and open (we hope). Often times when you try to extract your scanned files, they are provided to you in a proprietary format. Read your contract closely for the fine print. If you ever decide you want to switch to a new DMS, will they hand over the scanned data as if it were yours? Will they provide it in a format your next DMS can upload? Or are the files in a unique data format that will never be compatible? Imagine being in the middle of an IRS audit and trying to view your tax documents that were saved on your floppy disk from the 90’s. Yikes.
2) DMS Restriction
If you choose to scan and store your documents with your DMS, you lost your freedom to move your DMS in the future if needed. Using an independent scanning and storage vendor for your business documents allows you the freedom of choice. You are always the owner of your data. You are not restricted to one company and their floppy disk of files. If you don’t like marketing in the newspaper anymore then you can cancel your contract and move on. By working with an independent scanning vendor, you are independent from any DMS. You are left with the choice to be in control of your vendors and your documents.
3) Dedicated Scanning Staff and Extra Workload
When implementing a new process such as scanning and storing your documents electronically, your may be concerned about the extra workload imposed on your staff. You want your staff to be as efficient as possible, so it’s essential that your new processes easily integrate into your staff’s workday. Scanning with your DMS can often be clunky and cumbersome to your staff with use of the required centralized copier/scanner. At first glance, you may think you are saving money by investing in only one scanner vs. purchasing a desktop scanner for each staff member, but unfortunately that’s not the case. Scanning your documents using a centralized copier/scanner leads to time away from their desk and an inefficient use of their time. When will they step away to scan the documents? Are they in a position where they can step away from their desk and possibly miss phone calls or leave customers waiting? Will they be adding time to their day? You may think that you need to hire a new staff member to scan for multiple departments. This may make you re-evaluate scanning altogether.
Scanning your documents doesn’t have to be this difficult. When using strategically placed desktop scanners, your staff doesn’t have to leave their desk or carve out extra time in their day to stand at the centralized copier/scanner. When using small desktop scanners, each staff member can scan documents right from their desk. With most scans taking only seconds to complete, it’s easy for even your busiest staff members to scan documents throughout the day. There is no need to hire a dedicated scanner in your office and no need to change the workflow to add time to scan your documents.
4) Expensive Implementation
Scanning with your DMS can get expensive, quick. Ask for a detailed price breakdown to closely monitor each expense including leasing the scanner, setup and monthly service fee, pages scanned and users on the account and customer support. Typically the copier/scanner/spaceship can gouge you $30,000 or more. While it’s less expensive to lease the scanner, you may be deceived by the real cost when comparing the monthly lease amount vs outright purchase.
Quick, reliable desktop scanners can be purchased for $400-900. At a fraction of the cost of a centralized copier/scanner/spaceship, you keep more money and space (where were you planning on putting that thing?). Choosing to scan and store your documents with an independent company allows you to choose your scanner and and be in control over your account.
How many scans do you need each month? How many users will be scanning and viewing documents? When your business grows, how will the scanning service grow with you? Don’t be locked down by a company that will restrict your users or scans or number of phone calls for support. Choose a scanning solution that does not limit the service they are providing.
5) Difficult to Search for Your Documents
Take the scanning solution for a test drive to understand the features and search capabilities. Ask about any limitations for searching. Can you search for a range of documents using a customer last name or VIN? What results are you left with? If you search for “Smith” will you really find what you are looking for or will you need several searches? You may think your search is successful when returning 500 results, but when you realize that you must now sort through 500 Smiths, is that really success? Scanning your documents electronically should open up your search capabilities. You want to move away from time intensive document searches at the filing cabinet. Imagine needing to find all customer records for John Smith: car deals, title paperwork, parts invoices, repair orders. Most likely you wouldn’t find those all in one filing cabinet together. You would be running around to all departments gathering the paperwork from multiple cabinets. By scanning your documents electronically, you are building a database of your business documents. Make sure that your scanning solution is doing the work for you and reducing the time it takes to search for a document.
6) Have You Read the Reviews?
You check the reviews before going out for dinner or buying that new set of golf clubs, but how often do you read the reviews on the vendors you are working with? Working with a new vendor can be the beginning of a long business relationship or the nightmare you want to run away from. Consult with your peers or members of your 20-group when deciding on how to start scanning and storing your documents electronically. Your peers are the most valuable asset you have when considering a change in your business. Also, consider the customer support service you are receiving with your DMS right now? If you aren’t happy with the service you are receiving now, how will your service change when your needs are only growing?
Scanning and storing your documents electronically will open many opportunities for your business to be more efficient and save money filing your documents. With almost 1,000 businesses using Scan123, we ask that you check in with a few of them and ask about the service they receive. Once you consider scanning, we think the question will no longer be “Why should I start scanning?” but rather “Why Not?.”