Review of NetDocuments - 2011

 

NetDocuments
866-NetDocs
www.netdocuments.com

 

From the June 2011 Review of Document Management Systems

This is only the second year that NetDocuments has been a part of this review, and the more familiar I become with its depth of features and functions, the more I like it. The user interface has been completely revamped with the most recent release. The home page can be customized by selecting panels to display, including Favorite Workspaces to list specific client folders, shortcuts to the folders, Current Engagements that operate like “Favorites,” current tax year folders, and many other options. Users can launch applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and Adobe Acrobat from the home page, follow links to websites and access saved searches.

Best Firm Fit:
NetDocuments’ biggest market is law firms, which represents 70% of the company’s customer base. Although they don’t have a deep presence in accounting firms at this stage, they have a strong presence in many similar businesses, such as financial advisory firms. The system is highly configurable, so it can be deployed effectively in any type of firm. Since it is offered in a SaaS model it can be scaled up or down for small, medium and large firms..

  Strengths:

  •  100% SaaS-based solution since 1998
  • Highly configurable home page and workspace screens
  • Customizable metadata
  • Deep integration with Microsoft Excel, Outlook & Word
  • Integrated portal with discussion thread
  • Intuitive interface

  Potential Limitations:

  •  Limited penetration into accounting firms
  • Lack of pre-built acctg, audit & tax software integrations
  • No workflow functionality
..

Core Product Functions/Features:
This is only the second year that NetDocuments has been a part of this review, and the more familiar I become with its depth of features and functions, the more I like it. The user interface has been completely revamped with the most recent release. The home page can be customized by selecting panels to display, including Favorite Workspaces to list specific client folders, shortcuts to the folders, Current Engagements that operate like “Favorites,” current tax year folders, and many other options. Users can launch applications such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and Adobe Acrobat from the home page, follow links to websites and access saved searches.

When a user accesses a client folder, the workspace page can be organized by document type, and can display an optional panel listing files that are currently published to the client’s portal. Comments and other notes on a file can be recorded directly to the document’s profile data.

Files can be uploaded to NetDocuments by dragging them directly onto the workspace. Files can be moved or copied from Windows Explorer individually or in bulk. The metadata tags are completely customizable to meet the needs of enterprises, firms, departments or practice groups. As users search for text, NetDocuments will highlight the specific occurrences of the text within the document.

Document Workflow:
NetDocuments is designed as a horizontal solution to meet the needs of many types of businesses. It has limited integration with accounting, auditing or tax software out of the box. Users can setup a “watch” folder to have certain document types stored, i.e. tax returns, and NetDocuments can monitor the folder and upload files automatically with a pre-defined metadata tagging profile. Upload utilities are available for Lacerte and QuickBooks.

Microsoft Office/Outlook integration lets users save files directly from these applications to NetDocuments. The Microsoft Office File, New and Save buttons are redirected to NetDocuments. Users can e-mail links to documents through the firm’s existing e-mail servers, or use the e-mail engine provided by NetDocuments. Once a document like an e-mail sent to a client is filed, the next time a similar email from the same source arrives, NetDocuments knows where to file it.

There is no workflow functionality built into NetDocuments at this point, other than to mark documents as they are approved.

Document Control:
A number of security features are built into this system, including tracking login IP addresses, and document activity history. Administrators can set default user rights at the cabinet level and more granularly at the individual document level, or based on specific metadata values. Permissions to view, edit and share documents can be modified at every level, including at the individual document level.

The document retention management features allow firms to establish retention parameters at the folder level. Administrators can generate an on -demand report to list the documents that are eligible for purging. Document version control is provided to keep a history of file versions that can be accessed. Users can lock any specific version of the document. The check-in /check-out functionality will mark files that are checked out with a Green checkmark. An “echo folder” is created to store checked-out files locally when a user plans to edit them offline.

Special Features:
NetDocuments is one of the pioneers in cloud computing. The application has been offered as a 100% browser-based SaaS solution since 1998. The company utilizes two data centers in the United States and two in England. The integrated portal allows users to drag and drop documents into the client portal directly from the workspace screen. The publisher is working to simplify the portal account setup process. The portal allows the inclusion of a discussion thread with the client, and users can establish alert notifications when there is portal activity.

The application also includes an integrated scanning utility, which supports bar codes.

Executive Summary & Pricing
Three key features of NetDocuments stand out when evaluating this application: it is a “mature” SaaS application with over 10 years of experience, it has a highly customizable interface, and the user interface is simple and easy to work with. The pricing model is $20 to $30 per user per month, based on the number of users, and includes a base 10GB of storage, plus 1GB for each additional user.

2011 Overall Rating:

 

Loading