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2007 Review of Document Storage Systems

Document Management vs. Document Storage Systems: Part II What’s the best choice for your practice?

From the August 2007 Issue

This is the second half of our Document Management vs. Document Storage Systems
review. In the June/July 2007 issue, we painted a picture of the document management
and storage systems landscape. In that article, I provided an in-depth explanation
of the important attributes to consider when selecting a document management
or storage solution. If you haven’t read that article yet, I strongly
recommend you go back and read that article as a primer for the material covered
in this review. You can see it at

Click for full image.

The focus of this particular review is the category we refer to as document
storage systems. What characterizes the software applications in this category,
generally speaking, is a more limited scope of features and functions. Perhaps
the simplest characterization of these systems is that they are designed to
provide an alternative to using the Windows Explorer folder and subfolder file
management system. Document storage systems are designed to provide a more functional
interface for organizing electronic files. As a point of observation, I have
to say that I am surprised that Microsoft hasn’t stepped up to the plate
to provide more robust document storage functionality in the new generation
of Windows applications (Vista and Office.) It seems like such a natural progression
of the functionality of these applications. In the absence of such a step forward
on the part of Microsoft, these vendors are filling the void quite nicely.

back to what document storage systems are all about. Perhaps the best way to
illustrate the difference between document management and document storage systems
is through the feature comparison table on this page. [Important note: The delineation
between document management and document storage systems is not black and white.
Therefore, the characteristics outlined on the accompanying chart are generalizations.
Exceptions with any particular vendor solution may apply.]

Executive Summary
  • Document storage systems provide a simple and low-cost option for
    sole practitioners and small firms to organize their electronic files.
  • The primary distinction between document management and document storage
    systems is that the former are designed to facilitate truly paperless
    workflows and the latter are primarily designed to enhance your ability
    to file and retrieve electronic documents and files.
  • Document storage systems typically don’t include advanced scanning,
    portal or workflow automation tools, unlike the document management
  • The simplicity of document storage systems means that you can likely
    do your own installation and training.
  • Pricing for these applications is typically less than $200 per user
    and in some cases much cheaper.

Based on the feature comparison table presented here, the attributes we have
focused on reviewing for the document storage systems include the following:
usability, document organization, annotation capabilities, integration and records
management features. Usability refers to the overall design of the system —
how intuitive and easy-to-use the interface is. Document organization addresses
the design and functionality of document indexing capabilities. Generally speaking,
the greater the depth of indexing functionality, the higher the rating. Annotation
capabilities refer to the ability to make electronic notes, stamps and tick
marks on the document images.

Basically, there are two alternative approaches to annotation functionality:
proprietary features embedded in the document storage system or through reliance
on Adobe Acrobat’s annotation functionality. The latter is typically the
case with these systems. Integration addresses the functionality to file and/or
retrieve documents from within other applications (i.e., MS Office, Outlook,
tax, audit or practice management software). Records management features include
security controls, rules-based automatic document retention/purging, and system
activity audit trail reporting. Document storage systems generally have limited
functionality in the records management features, but there are certainly exceptions,
and they have been duly noted.

A final reminder before we get into the individual product reviews. The distinction
between document management vs. document storage systems is the depth and breadth
of functionality. The document storage systems are generally simple in their
design to help facilitate the organization of electronic documents and files.
Therefore, you’ll need to evaluate the product reviews from that perspective.
If you are looking for a more comprehensive document management solution, I
refer you back to the document management systems review in the June/July 2007

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Drake Software – Drake Document
Drake Document Manager was introduced in 2005 as
part of Drake’s tax software and is provided free of charge with
the vendor’s tax software package. The Document Manager system is
fully integrated with the Drake tax software so that tax returns can be
published and filed directly from the tax software.
Easy Data Access – Docsvault
Small Business Edition
Easy Data Access began the development of Docsvault in 2003 with the goal to provide small to medium-sized businesses with an affordable paperless office solution that can be utilized to transfer a business’ paper files to a centralized and organized digital filing system.
Fujitsu – Rack2Filer
Rack2-Filer is a document storage system that was
developed by Fujitsu, one of the leading manufacturers of high performance
scanners, to accompany its ScanSnap “one-touch” document scanner.
Intuit – ProSeries DMS & Lacerte DMS
These two products are essentially the same. One
is designed to integrate directly with the Intuit ProSeries tax software,
and the other version integrates with the Lacerte tax software.

Office Tools Pro
Office Tools Pro is a unique entry in this field
of products reviewed in that the document storage functionality is a component
of a more comprehensive collection of office automation tools that includes
contact management, project management, time and billing, as well as document
TaxWorks — ArkWorks
ArkWorks was initially released in January 2006,
making it one of the newest products in this review. It is designed primarily
to work with the TaxWorks tax preparation software, but can also be used
as a stand-alone document storage system.
Thomson Tax & Accounting
— FileCabinet CS
FileCabinet CS is designed specifically for tax
and account-ing firms and delivers the greatest value when used with the
Thomson Tax & Accounting CS suite of professional products.