Document Management Systems – SharePoint 2010 vs Others
One of the main and early adoption reasons for SharePoint implementation is document management. This could branch later to records management or content management, but document management usually comes first.
There are other available solutions out there: open source, desktop or web based, so which is better and how do you pick and choose?
There is actually no definite answer. Even the question of which is better is not very relevant. What matters is what is good for your own environment and what gives you real added value now and in the near future (what survives past your recent or current strategic plan).
Document management is about controlling the life cycle of a document: creation (or acquisition), security, storage, classification (taxonomy), review (editing and approval), publishing, retention (or disposal). There are other internal details to these processes involving policies, guidelines, templating, conversion, auditing and compliance – to mention a few.
SharePoint 2010 has the main required features to function as both document and record management system as well as ECM (enterprise content management). It integrates very well with MS Office products (especially MS Office 2007 and Microsoft Office 2010). It has a flexible customization set of tools, starting from the browser and ending with Visual Studio 2010 development.
However, SharePoint 2010 is lacking some features like document capture or high volume processing capability (ex. Invoicing, as indicated in ). There are custom third party solutions to complement SharePoint in various functional areas (ex. capture solutions from KnowledgeLake, Canon and others).
Alfresco is probably the best known open source competitor to SharePoint in the document management area. It also have a paid version, but does not offer the collaboration you find in SharePoint and its aspects (categories) are not capable of true taxonomy.
DokMee has both desktop and web versions with basic features including workflow but apparently no collaboration or taxonomy. Teamspace also has basic document management features. In fact, there are plenty of solutions out there, some of which are hosted like the Office 365.
So which one to choose? Again, the relevant question is what are the selection criteria?
Obviously, the total cost of ownership is a major factor. This includes hardware, software, licensing, training and maintenance. The set of required features is another. Features are likely to differ from one institution to another (basic features are likely to be shared, but if you are in legal business you may have different additional features from a media house). Return on investment (ROI) is usually important especially for the private sector, but return is not limited to money. Organization culture, governance and technical background (other past and present solutions) are also important.
It will take a few good hours of brainstorming before you decide and you should not start with competitive products on the table and a task to choose from – that will be a recipe for tension and frustration. Start with your strategy (goals) and align your discussion with those goals.