Monday, July 15, 2013

Why is it so difficult to get users to use the document management software?

Experts in documentation usually complain about the people they say are “resistant to change” when it comes time for employees of a business (which didn’t have a document management system (DMS) or ECM platform before) to become users of such a system.

The traditional reason why the users feel apprehension towards the new system tends to be the interface or other characteristics which the workers feel are “hardly practical.”

If there can be various reasons why the new system is barely used, there’s one reason that no one is talking about, and which, in my opinion, is the most powerful reason why the document management system’s not being used: the users simply don’t see the benefits when they do put documents into the system.

To them, sending documents by e-mail seems a lot easier than sharing them via the DMS ;  it involves less effort to stick a file in a filing cabinet than to digitalize it; it seems a lot easier to save things in shared folders than to upload the things to a document management software.

We can get beyond those “pains in the neck” issues that employees face with a specific solution: for example, by synchronizing it with WebDAV or a file server, in case there’s a strong tendency to rely on shared folders. Before that, the first thing to do is to convince the users that feeding the system really is worth the trouble and the real value lies in the accessibility of the information.

How can you make them see the value? 

You can show them that using the DMS can be the solution if they answer “yes” to any of the following questions: 

  • Have you ever had trouble trying to find a document that you received (or sent) via e-mail? 
  • Have you ever been unable to find a document that you thought you had stored on your PC?
  • Do you frequently have to refer back to (or use) documentation you haven’t used in a very long time? 
  • Is it difficult to remember which version is the last version that you, as a group, have been working on?

You can ask them a lot of similar questions, but the key is to understand – and to make them understand – that, any time they want (or need) to recover information, it’s far easier to work with a document or content management system. For most people, filing actual paper documents ends up being a lot easier than doing it digitally and it’s not easy for them to see the benefits of “filing for filing’s sake”.

Let’s not forget that the final reason for getting an ECM system or document management system is to make the day-to-day work of working with the user’s documents easier. We providers of ECM software should continue to work to make applications easier to use and closer to how people actually work. Similarly, IT managers and document experts need to make an effort to make employees understand the benefits they can get from working every day with the manager.

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  1. I do agree with all the ideas you have presented in your post. They’re really convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are very short for novices. Could you please extend them a little from next time? Thanks for the post.

  2. Thank you Daniel. Yes, It would be a pleasure to extend this post. We will work on it. Best regards.

  3. Daniel, I've extended on this post as you ask me to. I hope you find it useful!