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Document Management & Salesforce – Part II


Writing this as my week old son is falling asleep and this is one of those opportunities that I feel too giddy to to pass out on. It’s sharing time…

While we discussed the importance of Document Management applications in our previous blog, we are due to evaluate what options may already exist when working with Salesforce. Although, my observations are specific to Salesforce, most of these Document Management (DM) capabilities may apply to other cloud applications as well; provided it has similar interoperability like that of Force.com.

Though a Clich√© – ‘Without further adieu’ –

1. Salesforce has an in-built DM capability which allows one to store files and relate those to specific Accounts and Opportunities. Salesforce is also extending its DM feature by introducing Chatterbox in 2013 to enable file sharing abilities for its Chatter users. In its out-of-box state and unless you are willing to customize your Salesforce implementation, advanced DM capabilities like – Metadata searching, Sorting documents across Salesforce Objects and sharing are challenging. One of the biggest limitation is its minimal integration with MS Office applications restraining collaboration.

2. Third party File Sharing service providers like Box.net are excellent choices for storage, sharing and collaboration. Although Chatterbox was initially thought off as a direct competitor to Box, its evident that their is enough room for both these tools to thrive. As an add-on to Salesforce DM capabilities, these services give you Enterprise grade security capabilities using SSL protocol and 128 bit encryption and virus scanning capabilities for your documents These tools were positioned to provide secured file-sharing capabilities rather than a customized end-to-end Document Management system and here may lie its limitation – when there is no need to classify the metadata or create extensive workflow. That said, most of these tools are introducing new integrations with standard Salesforce Objects to cater to the customer needs. One thing to keep in mind that although Salesforce already have officially announced integration with Google Apps, tools like box.net has a significantly compelling feature set, and improved user interface.
3. Third party DM applications like NetDocuments, MFiles DMS, Alfresco (new kid in the block) can bridge this gap of tracing documents while automating your processes. You can conveniently tag and trace all your documents based on your business needs for convenient sorting and sharing. Documents in most of these tools can also be accessed using your Native OS file explorer and added interface, e.g. Windows Explorer. These tools have inbuilt meta-data profiles, templates, highly optimized indexing capabilities. One can conveniently tailor these profiles (configuration steps in Salesforce spirit) to your business process to automate the profiling of your documents. These tools integrate seamlessly with MS Office applications increasing productivity of your Salesforce user groups. Most allow you to tag documents to Salesforce records using its own interface without having to log into Salesforce itself. Which fits best to your organization need would need either a quick evaluation of these tools (most provide trial editions) or a consultation with service providers In such lines, SpringCM has a free VIP Edition available in AppExchange to start you off while limiting functionality to specific Salesforce objects within your implementation.Which tool should you adopt? One size fits all? What may work for one, may be entirely useless to another when it comes to document management capabilities When it comes to recommending a solution, ensure that your business needs are extensively evaluated. If all you need is an ability to share files within your sales team, you may not need to shell out for a Cadillac.