Always on the hunt for document management

Document management is one of those software domains that seems to offer choices ranging from:

  1. nothing, which isn’t great for disaster recovery, or
  2. a few mid-range solutions that are affordable, but have fatal flaws–usually performance-related, or
  3. several mind-numbingly expensive “enterprise solutions.” [1]

The last enterprise document management system I reviewed cost upwards of 100K just to put in place. That didn’t include customizing what turned out to be a SQL Server backend so that it would actually understand a particular company’s documents and their relationships. Nor did it include the annual licensing fees, which I’ve blocked from my memory forgotten. I have no doubt those systems work well for companies that can throw hundreds of thousands of dollars at a problem. And I know that some systems really do need such a significant financial investment. I’m also highly in favor of profits, being a businesswoman and what with cats to feed, and all. Nevertheless, it was so not the solution for a client of mine that it wasn’t funny. [2]

My client eventually settled on software that could be pretty good, but is seriously hampered with what I consider to be an perfectly ordinary number of documents for a small-to-midsized business. Which, in my eyes, is a fatal flaw since the pricing targets that size business.

Document management is one of those pieces of software that we should know how to build so well that by now there should be off-the-shelf software, ready to work for most businesses [3]. It shouldn’t be necessary to hire a programmer, but only necessary for business people, anyone, to identify documents and how they relate. Connecting a scanner seems to me to be most complicated issue. They can be finicky. In any case, there is no good reason why we should even be thinking about writing custom software except for unusual circumstances that beg for demand blood-sucking consultants more sophisticated solutions.

(Cue theatric sigh.) So…if you know of an affordable document management system, please post a comment. I’d be glad to also hear of your experiences with document management sytems, or enterprise solutions, for that matter.

[1] I’ve come to suspect “enterprise solution” really means “lets take these suckers for every penny we can get.”

[2] The salesman didn’t even bother to return my client’s request a bid so that he could discuss it with his board. I guess we just weren’t his type *spit*.

[3] Accounting software is another.

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