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2009 Review of Document Management Systems

Document Management Takes Off, But Firms Still Seek Guidance

From the July 2009 Issue

Recent surveys have revealed that more accounting and tax firms have procured
an electronic document management system (EDMS) than those that haven’t.
The first caveat, however, is that many of those who have made the leap are
still busy making the transition to full deployment. But the fact is they’re
trying! If you’re in the shrinking minority of firms reluctant to jump
in, this review of EDMS solutions for accounting and tax practices will provide
some useful information to help you understand what these systems can do to
help you make the transition to a paperless or digital practice model.

This has become a perennial feature of The CPA Technology Advisor and is my
fourth consecutive year of conducting these reviews. The capabilities of these
systems have progressed significantly on many fronts. The one characteristic
that really stood out for me this year is how so many of the vendors have transitioned
to a focus on fine tuning their features and functions based on a mature base
of installations. That’s a good thing. Implementing an EDMS successfully
is no small task; it is a multi-year journey that will provide significant rewards.
Those rewards come in terms of increased staff productivity and enhanced quality
of client service. So take our tour of leading EDMS applications and get a feel
for what this collection of best-selling solutions has to offer.

To help you assess each vendor’s offering more effectively, we have
reviewed their offerings based on four key sets of attributes: usability, file
management and organization, integration and relative value.

Usability is the most subjective of the categories. What I look for here is
simply how easy the system is to interact with. If the system is not designed
intuitively, or takes too many steps to get things done, then it isn’t
going to score very high. Ease of use is what it’s all about as far as
I’m concerned. Most of us have become pretty comfortable working within
Windows Explorer, even with all of its shortcomings, so it will be important
for your staff to perceive the new system as a step forward, not backward. If
it’s too difficult to work with, they will reject it.

File management & organization features address the methodology that the
system utilizes for organizing the electronic documents. Essentially, this is
an extension of the usability attribute; however, we can be a bit more objective
in this category by describing the way the file storage is organized. Before
I go any further, it is important to point out that despite the fact that we
refer to these as document management systems, for all practical purposes, they
are really file management systems. They are designed to manage the storage
and retrieval of all your electronic files: PDFs, Word and Excel files, email
messages, QuickBooks files and more. So think of an EDMS as Windows Explorer
on steroids.

Integration is an attribute that covers a lot of territory. There are three
basic perspectives from which I have assessed each vendor’s strength in
this area: MS-Office, accounting and tax applications, and extended applications
such as intelligent scanning, workflow and portal modules.

Finally, the relative value is a rating of the vendors’ solution based
on the breadth and depth of functionality relative to the cost of the system.
When you combine the scores from each of these four categories, you get a pretty
good sense of where each vendor falls in comparison.

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Acct1st Technology Group – EDRMS
Acct1st continues to market its product as a $1
per day, per user solution. And while the pricing model hasn’t changed,
some of the usability and functionality has.
Autonomy Inc. – Autonomy iManage WorkSite 8.5
Since our review last year, Interwoven was acquired by Autonomy, a worldwide enterprise with $4 billion market capitalization, 20,000 customers and 2,000 employees. Worksite is currently in use at 11 of the top 30 U.S.-based accounting firms.
Cabinet NG, Inc. – CNG-Safe & CNG-Books
CNG-SAFE is a “horizontal” solution
designed to work in virtually any industry, but the accounting market
is one of the vendor’s primary focuses. The system is available
in a web hosted (SaaS model) or in-house solution.
CAPSYS – Capsys Capture
Related Article: One of the biggest challenges of
writing a review of document management solutions is dealing with the
scope of the application. A comprehensive electronic document management
solution (EDMS) requires four key components; capture, storage, processing
(documents) and distribution.
CCH, a Wolters Kluwer business
– ProSystem fx Document ASP
The evolution of ProSystem fx Document continues to progress very nicely since CCH acquired it. They’ve recently added a web hosted option for firms that don’t want to deal with the challenges of implementing and managing the server infrastructure required to deliver Document throughout the enterprise.
Computhink, Inc. – ViewWise
ViewWise is designed to work in many different industries
including manufacturing, healthcare and financial services. The entire
suite of modules available provides you with the opportunity to establish
a comprehensive paperless workflow solution.

Conarc, Inc. – iChannel
iChannel is a new entry in our document management
review, and they have emerged as a formidable competitor in the accounting
profession’s document management systems market. iChannel is a horizontal
solution; however, nearly 50 percent of the vendor’s clients are
in the accounting and financial services professions.
Doc.It Corp. – Doc.It
Doc.It takes a very deliberate approach to its
design strategy. This is particularly evident in the development of its
two core modules. One is the WIP binder for document management of dynamic
files that are actively in use for a particular engagement.
FileVision USA – FileVision
FileVision is perhaps the one product in this review
that most closely resembles a content management solution. The scope of
modules available includes enterprise content management, intelligent
capture, business process automation and knowledge management.
Personable Inc. – Workflow DMS & SourceLink
SourceLink is a niche solution focused on direct
integration with QuickBooks and Microsoft Office Accounting. The team
at Personable continues to expand the breadth and depth of functionality.
This year, they have released WorkFlow DMS, which can be used independent
of SourceLink.
Thomson Reuters – GoFileRoom
If you were to review the archives of my previous
EDMS reviews in this magazine, you would find that I have consistently
emphasized GoFileRoom’s intuitive, easy-to-use interface.
Thomson Reuters – FileCabinet
FileCabinet CS completes the circle of the Thomson
Reuters CS suite of tax and accounting applications. If your firm has
one or more of the other CS applications deployed, then FileCabinet CS
should be on your short list of potential DMS solutions.
Treeno Software – Treeno Document
Related Article: Although they’ve been around
the document management space for seven years, with a focus on other verticals,
we recently discovered Treeno Software’s document management solution
at the New Jersey Accounting, Business and Technology Show.

2009 Review of Document Management Systems — Comparison



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