Is Open-Source Web Document Management Software Your Next Document Nirvana?

Open source software solutions are becoming increasingly common and like certain fast food restaurants (no names will be provided of course), are unbeatable when it comes to “the current culture.” After all, everyone loves a good open source solution. It’s so valuable and so….well, F.R.E.E.

Free for a While?

When searching for a web document management software it’s important to remember that open source options can be valuable but also commonly lead to upgrades that are just as expensive as their corporate counterparts; and even if they are still less expensive, technical support and the quality of fixes, upgrades and enhancements can seriously be lacking. Of course this caution goes for any type of software and only serves to show that it’s the shoppers that really have to do the research.

The Bugs

Open source solutions are great when it comes to creativity and the cool stuff. Sometimes however with all this coolness in the inhalable atmosphere open source designers and developers aren’t as careful to exterminate all of the software bugs that would, at least by most corporate policies be zipped, zapped and buried in a matter of months. Who can blame the open source guys though? At least they know how to have fun!

The Key to Knowing

The key to knowing what software solution you are really looking for is by conducting a savvy financial analysis that consists of three parts.

Determining the Overall Ownership Costs Determining an Overall ROI Determining the Overall Risk of Return

Overall Ownership Costs

Overall ownership costs are fairly straightforward in terms of flat calculation. To begin your calculations simply start by determining how much the web document management software in question will cost over a period of five years. Five years isn’t necessarily a magic number but it just so happens that software happens to depreciate over that period of time give or take a little. Determining this cost will of course require your sharpest addition skills because you’ll most assuredly be purchasing more than one product or service. Take into account EVERY penny that the vendor plans to charge you for. Consider the primary software cost, validation services, hardware costs, implementation fees, maintenance, IT overhead, upgrades, additional software or any costs associated with revalidation. That’s a lot to consider but well worth creating the picture that provides the first acknowledgment that when it comes to a web document management solution selection your company may–or may not be–headed in the right direction.

Overall ROI

Determining your ROI can be tricky since it’s more of a projection than a determination but this step is as important as the first in painting the picture that will show your company whether or not a web document management solution will function well in a given environment. During the determination of the overall cost of ownership you determined what you would spend over a period of five years. Now, it’s time to determine what you will gain based on the functionality the software can offer. After all, if a software solution isn’t saving you overhead, process management costs what is it good for? You should project what the “sure fire” savings or projected growth will be from the software solution. You may be surprised to find that many of the open source solutions don’t “fit the bill” which may be a direct result of not fulfilling your user requirement specifications in the first place.

Overall Risk of Return

Calculating the risk of return is tricky because it requires an acknowledgment of variability. You should consider the potential variability that will be allowed in terms of your return and then determine whether or not the projects offers a high level or low level of risk for your company.


Determining whether open source web document management software is the right document management solution requires the same types of research that any other corporate system would require.