If one company could take credit for pushing the “cloud computing” document management phenomenon, it would be Box. In 2010, they took the document management industry by storm giving companies access to a polished easy-to-use product that had low upfront costs. They are used by over 120,000 businesses worldwide, have native applications for all mobile platforms, and are one of the largest players in the market. Why would you not choose Box to be your document management system?
Well, there are a number of reasons why Box is not meant for everyone. This post is not meant to bash Box as they have a great product for sharing and collaborating on documents securely. As a document management system, however, they fall short in many aspects traditional systems have had for years.
- Handing of Large Files – If you have ever tried to use a large document with Box’s viewer you will know what I mean, and it cannot handle PDF’s over 35MB. Even with times changing and bandwidth in many places being plentiful, waiting for the viewer to render pages can be painstaking. Most traditional document management systems store images as single pages so you are able to quickly jump from page to page without downloading the entire document.
- Contextual Searches – While Box provides great searching for OCR text, folders and file names, the ability to easily associate other data with a document is extremely helpful for locating files. Tags can work, but the interface for tags is clunky and non-intuitive. It is possible to come up with complex naming schemes that can house much of the information that makes up a document, but the whole idea of Box is creating an easy to use system where everything just works.
- Paper Conversion – Box excels in the sharing and collaboration of electronic documents(Microsoft Word, Excel, AutoCAD, etc). However, if you are trying to migrate all of your paper to the cloud, Box offers no easy interface for this. You will need to scan to PDF, name your files something that makes sense and pick a folder. Contrast this to products such as Westbrook’s Fortis or Laserfiche where they have many tools to assist with this process and allow for automated naming and capture using combinations of barcodes/zonal OCR(Optical Character Recognition) as well as database lookups to compare and retrieve additional data about the document you are archiving.
- Document Editing – Sometimes you will have the need to update an existing PDF. With Box’s interface it would require you download the full PDF, update the file and then re-upload. With most major document management systems, this would be a single copy or cut and paste action resulting in a much more streamlined process.
- Bandwidth – Although this is related to how Box handles large files, it is still a very real issue for many small to medium businesses that are still on the low-end to mid-tier internet connections. If you have someone uploading a large file, prepare for internet slowdown if your office is running off of DSL or a low-end cable internet connection. While the internet is always getting faster, there are still many rural areas that just do not have faster internet options.
In conclusion, Box is great for online collaboration with your primary use dealing with electronic documents. We use Box and we love it for many tasks. However, if you are looking for a system which can hold your electronic documents, but also excels at the housing of your paper documents you may want to look beyond Box. Companies such as Westbrook Technologies and Laserfiche are industry leaders and have been around for many years. You can house their solutions both onsite and off premise while being fully secured.
If you would like more information on how to choose a document management system that is right for you, please use our Contact Us form.