If you’re in the education industry, you know that managing paper documents—such as worksheets, permission slips, and academic transcripts—is a constant challenge. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Document management systems (DMS) can digitize your files, automate manual processes, and save you money. But not all DMSs are built for schools. Here are six important things you should look for when considering your options.
There are plenty of debates about whether you should use a self-hosted or cloud-hosted DMS, but if you’re running a school on a tight budget, the latter option makes more sense. That’s because cloud-hosted DMS does not require you to pay for expensive servers, software licenses, and in-house technicians upfront.
Cloud-hosted DMS like PairSoft is a monthly subscription service that allows you to access the most up to date version of the software via the internet, which means there are no local installations required.
In fact, as long as you have a stable internet connection, you’ll be able to access the DMS with a wide range of devices and operating systems.
What’s more, the DMS provider will secure, back up, and maintain the servers housing your data, ensuring it is safe from natural disasters and cyberattacks.
Document capture and search
Most DMS on the market specialize in simple scanning and storage, but if you want your school to be more efficient, you can’t live without advanced document capture and search features.
Document capture uses barcode scanning and optical character recognition to convert scanned documents into “searchable” digital information. Document search then allows you to search for these specific files by keying in specific words or phrases so you can retrieve the information you need in an instant.
For example, if you’re looking for a student’s field trip permission slip, all you have to do is type in “permission slip” followed by the student’s ID number.
Integration with existing apps
Beyond the essential features, you’ll also want a DMS that works well with existing apps. If your school relies on Blackbaud, for example, a DMS that syncs with your accounting database and automates workflows will benefit you in the long run since you won’t have to spend extra time and effort with manual data entry, filing, or searching through cabinets for documents.
Security and compliance
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) states that schools cannot disclose student information without the consent of the student or the parent. For this reason, your DMS must be equipped with:
- Access controls—Allow you to set access restrictions for each student, teacher, and administrator file.
- Encryption systems—Turn your data into indecipherable code to prevent unauthorized disclosures and tampering.
- Audit capabilities—Give you the ability to track who viewed, downloaded, or edited a specific file or record.
Do you manage PDF records, Microsoft Office files, and emails in Outlook? If so, your DMS software must be compatible with multiple file types.
Not everyone is tech-savvy, so it’s important that the DMS you choose is easy to use. You can assess this by requesting a personalized demonstration from a DMS provider and asking your faculty to test the software for themselves.
After a week of testing, ask them to rate its intuitiveness and the overall user experience. If the reviews are favorable, then that DMS should be added to your shortlist.
Choosing a DMS for your school can be overwhelming, but the benefits are well worth it. Just check out some of the K–12 schools and colleges we’ve helped in the past. Ever since they’ve implemented PairSoft, their processes have become a lot faster and their budget has become a lot leaner. Want to achieve the same results? Call us today or, if you need more convincing, download our ROI calculator to see how much money you can save.