It's a Trap: Resist the Siren Calls of Self-Hosted Document Management

It's difficult to understate the value of document management. The pure scale, complexity, and overall disjointed nature of the modern document architecture is jaw-dropping. In the typical organization, various teams and committees are responsible for implementing ad-hoc document management tasks, and the avalanche of electronic and printed documents piles up across departments. To compensate, many create document service units, each with their own specific workflows, and each responsible for specific documentation needs.

This creates substantial financial burdens for organizations. In fact, the typical global financial institution (which handles over 300 trillion in assets combined) spends 0.5 percent of its revenue on document management. That's a significant sum. For smaller organizations, healthcare systems, and manufacturing companies, the percentage-of-revenue hogged by traditional document management is staggering, liquidity-draining, and overall damaging to their long-term growth and financial outlook.

Fortunately, there's a way out of the trap.

End-to-end document management solutions cut costs, bridge documentation gaps, and create tangible value for outside data systems. Unfortunately, many organizations simply don't know how to launch these initiatives. Often, it comes down to one big question: do you launch internally or go with a document management software company? It's a big decision! The longest cycle of implementation is almost always the decision-making process. The first (and most significant) step toward creating a more cost-effective and productivity-prone document management ecosystem is pulling the trigger.

So do you keep that juicy data in-house where it's sheltered by your teams? Or do you let a third-party vendor host it to cut costs and improve elasticity?

Hosted vs. In-house: A Battle of Feelings

For many organizations, in-house hosting just feels... better. You have complete control over your data, and you don't have to rely on anyone else to secure, manage, and handle your data. That's the primary "pro" of self-hosted solutions. They feel better. And we get it. In a world where 68% of business leaders feel that cybersecurity risks are increasing, storing data on-site gives you a sense of security. Here's the problem though: on-site solutions are less secure.

It seems counterintuitive, doesn't it? How is self-hosting possibly less secure than handing your precious data over to a third-party vendor? Well, for starters, hosted solutions exist in a very controlled space. Vendors that host ECM solutions aren't just securing your data; they're securing the data of thousands of other businesses. They have the capital and expertise to build robust cloud infrastructures that adhere to the niche requirements of an ECM system. This means built-in compliance and risk-reduction features, world-class policies, and baked-in architecture security.

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Even when we look at massive global-scale companies like Azure or AWS (which sit in the space between self-hosted and hosted), they have inherent security, but they don't have the right preset policies and controls. To create these policies and moderate your cloud infrastructure, you need to hire a rag-tag (expensive) team of security specialists. This creates costs, introduces the potential for mistakes, and forces you to police your own cloud ecosystem.

With hosted solutions, you get world-class security that scales. There are obviously other benefits of hosted solutions (which we'll touch on in a moment), but it's important to dispel the most common misconception. Self-hosted solutions may feel more secure. But they aren't more secure. To put it into perspective, you can certainly hire cooks to prepare a delicious steak dinner. But that steak isn't going to taste better than a what a Michelin star restaurant serves. ECM providers have an entire business built around ECM. They have the talent, infrastructure, and experience to create amazing and holistic cloud ecosystems. Why would you try to build that inside your business? It's not cost-effective, and it's not your job. You have experiences to create, products to bring to market, and customers to please. Trying to host your own ECM shouldn't be on your menu.

The Problem With Self-hosted Document Management Solutions

Let's start with the carrot. There are tangible benefits to self-hosting. These include:

  • Internal control over documents
  • Ability to create your own indexing solutions
  • Ability to daisy-chain together outside vendors
  • Perceived privacy
  • Customization (hint: you can get vendor-hosted, hyper-customized ECM solutions)

But, beyond those very limited benefits, self-hosted solutions present plenty of frictions and problems. Let's look at a few of the major roadblocks that appear when you host your own ECM:

  • Lack of scalability: Self-hosted systems are difficult to scale. Every time you need more capacity, you have to invest in additional hardware. If you're self-hosting them on AWS or Azure, you have to contact your provider and scale up depending upon needs. This can result in tricky lag periods where you need more scale, but you're waiting on the service/hardware to implement scalability.
  • No elasticity: Legacy servers aren't elastic. Cloud-based solutions have some level of built-in elasticity, but they may not be conditioned to handle documentation needs. Elasticity is the ability to quickly scale up and down based on demand. So, let's say you need a ton of rapid-fire data usage for a Black Friday event; you may not need to permanently scale your solution. You just need that scale for a small window of time. Elasticity is the ability to scale your servers to meet those needs on a hyper-temporary basis.
  • Security issues: Again, self-hosted solutions aren't as secure as hosted document management solutions.
  • Governance frictions: Over 50% of companies still aren't GDPR compliant. When you throw in the other one-hundred-plus data privacy omnibus bills, thousands of local ordinances, and industry-specific ad-hoc requirements, governance is a nightmare for those that self-host. Hosted solutions automatically comply with governance standards.
  • Cost of maintenance: Self-hosted solutions require a team of professionals to provide ongoing maintenance. These costs are bundled into your monthly fee (which are far lower than actually performing maintenance yourself) when you get your document management system hosted.
  • Time-consumption: To put it simply, hosting your own document management solution is time-consuming, resource-draining, and capital-intensive.
  • Budgeting: Self-hosted solutions interrupt predictive budgeting. When you get your document management system hosted, you pay a flat monthly fee. Otherwise, you have to put aside capital for emergency maintenance and scaling costs.

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Building a Brighter Future with Hosted Document Management

According to McKinsey, cloud-hosted solutions cut costs by 30 to 40 percent, reduce IT incidents by over 70 percent, and improve flexibility and scalability. Document management solutions are incredibly powerful pieces of technology, but they're also complicated, server-intensive, regulatory black holes that require hyper-particular policies and risk protocols. It can be tempting to self-host your document management solution, but it's almost always a bad idea. Not only does it require a significant amount of upfront capital, but it forces you to create new teams, hire new employees, and build new systems — all of which sap the ROI of leveraging document management in the first place.

Are you looking for an industry-leading hosted document management solution? Contact us. We help you eliminate paper burdens, bridge together teams, and create a collaboration-filled workplace.