Hosted Document Management Can Be Attractive Option for SMBs - Page 2

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Among the core attributes of SpringCM 3.7 (the version we tested for this review) are an attractive, very customizable and intuitive user interface, and several unique features for both submitting and sending content to and from the service.

Probably the most useful of these was the ability to set up a unique mailing address on the service (using the format to which any user could send attached documents that would automatically be added to the document repository. Given how common it is to receive and exchange documents through e-mail, we found this to be an excellent option for sending documents into a document management system, especially for documents that come from outside workers and partners.

SpringCM also offers a plug-in to Microsoft Office so that users can automatically save and read documents within SpringCM directly from their Office applications. Also, a public folder option (for an additional fee per folder) makes it possible to set up essentially an external folder for public document downloads and access.

Standard upload options such as browser-based fields and a Java-based multifile uploader are also included, and the service does support WebDAV (Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning) folders for simple drag-and drop document access.

However, with this last option we quickly found one of the weaknesses in this version of SpringCM, namely its integrated help system. SpringCM didnt have in-context help, always defaulting to a main search page when we accessed its help system. We found that the user guide for this version was not yet available. When we searched for help information on how to access the products WebDav interface, no information was returned. It was only after speaking to SpringCM representatives that we learned the WebDAV address information we needed to access our SpringCM folders from our Windows Explorer.

Once we uploaded documents into the SpringCM system, the service provided us with all of the standard document management and routing features that most businesses will require, such as check-in/check-out, unique keywords and attributes, and versioning. One nice little feature in the check-in/check-out capabilities, called Nudge User, made it possible for us to send a notice to another used who had checked out a document to which we required access.

While the workflow options in SpringCM dont compete with those found in high-end enterprise systems, we found them to be solid overall and suitable for most document routing needs. SpringCM makes it possible to create both simple, single-step workflows (such as "Joe, review this document") to more complex, multistep workflows. Any workflow created can be saved as a template for reuse.

When it comes to sending out documents from the system, SpringCM has a nice implementation that provides all necessary options from a single interface. For example, when sending a document through SpringCM, we could attach a note, select recipients, choose delivery options (mail, PDF, fax, SpringCM inbox) and define a number of security and access settings, including document expiration and forwarding, printing, and copying rights.

SpringCM offers several good options for businesses that want to customize the service to fit within their existing company Web infrastructure. In the customization screens we could replace the SpringCM logo with a company logo and change site colors and text to match our current company sites and portals. It is also possible to integrate the SpringCM login fields into company Web sites and portals.

As is often the case with SAAS products, new versions and updates come fast and furious. By the time you read this review, the SpringCM service should be running under a new version (3.8). In a preliminary demo of this version, we saw that SpringCM will have a new user interface that, for the most part, mimics the standard interface of Microsofts Outlook. Another major new feature in this release will be the option to clone an entire SpringCM account, which will be useful for deploying the service to different units or departments of a company.

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