DDM Frequently Asked Questions

Dealership Document Management (DDM) systems help dealers manage sales and service documents by storing them in computer systems rather than file cabinets.  Here are some questions to ask DDM system vendors prior to purchasing their products and services.

1.   What is a DDM system?
2.   What is a key benefit?
3.   Why is document scanning important?
4.   How is a DDM system used?
5.   How do I choose a vendor?
6.   What should I consider before choosing a DDM?
7.   What DDM software features are available?
8.   How can I ensure the records are secure?
9.   What do I do with all the paper files?
10. Do I need to buy a scanner?
11. How much does a dealership document management system cost?

1. What is a DDM system?
A DDM system is a computer application used to create, edit, manage, search and publish various types of documents and reports.

2. What is a key benefit?
Documents are accessible immediately, and they are secure and safe.  There will be no more storage costs, and human labor is reduced dramatically since trips to the file room can be reduced to seconds with the click of a mouse.

3. Why is document scanning important?
Studies have demonstrated that in paper-based systems, workers waste approximately 20% to 40% of their time searching for documents.  Lost or misplaced paper files are a common problem with potentially disastrous results.  The following statistics on document management highlight the operational issues associated with physical document management.

  • 90% of all corporate information resides on paper documents. 
  • Of all documents that get handled daily in an average office, 90% are just shuffled.
  • The average document gets copied 19 times.
  • Companies spend $20 in labor to file a document, $120 in labor to find a misfiled document, and $220 in labor to reproduce a lost document.
  • 7.5% of all documents get lost, 3% of the remainder get misfiled.
  • Professionals spend 5-15% of their time reading information, but up to 50% looking for it.
  • There are over 4 trillion paper documents in the U. S. and growing at a rate of 22% per year.

(Source:  Coopers & Lybrand)

4. How is a DDM system used?
Dealership document management systems are used for storing, retrieving, printing and forwarding (transmitting) documents including technical manuals, sales documents (deal jackets), R.O.s, warranty claims, vehicle photos, and marketing brochures.

5. How do I choose a vendor?
Decide if you prefer an ASP (application service provider) solution that you access via the Internet or an in-house DDM with equipment that is installed and runs in your dealership.  Web-based systems allow an authorized employee to access the system 24/7.  However, if the Internet connection fails, you cannot access your documents until the connection has been restored.  On the other hand, your data is secured at the remotely located ASP computer center and does not require dealership employees to manage the system and backup the documents stored in the DDM.

6. What should I consider before choosing a DDM?

  • Where will documents be stored?
  • How will they be filed to ensure they are easily located? 
  • How will documents be found?
  • Who will have access to them?
  • How will documents be made secure?
  • How long will they be retained?
  • How will they be recovered if the DDM is damaged by fire, flood or a natural disaster?
  • The size of a dealership operation should determine the level of staff support required.

7 . What DDM software features are available?
You should be able to store and search for all types of documents and reports.  You may also want to have remote access, ability to open multiple records at the same time, the ability to electronically route documents to others or add custom features on your own.  If the system is too difficult to use, employees will avoid it.  Determine the tasks that the DDM must perform and ensure it supports them.  Ask for a trial CD or online demo and include the staff that will use the system frequently in the evaluations.

8. How can I ensure the records are secure?
The software should restrict access only to authorized employees.  Look for standard features that allow you to create multiple access levels for different groups of departmental employees.

9. What do I do with all the paper files?
As an example, you may choose to scan the contents of all your deal jackets, feeling that the time and cost are justified by the ability to quickly locate and access all sales information.  The scan forward method, another alternative, is more gradual and less labor intensive. As each deal jacket is needed and pulled from the files, it is scanned into the DDM before it is returned to the file (and marked to be destroyed later).  The electronic document replaces the paper file from then on. However, it will be necessary to adhere to the requirements to retain printed copies of some documents to fulfill OEM and IRS mandates. 

10. Do I need to buy a scanner?
If you have a digital copier on your network, you may be able to use it as your primary scanner.  However, if you buy a scanner, ensure that it's capable of scanning the anticipated volume of documents and providing the necessary image quality of stored documents.

11 . How much does a dealership document management system cost?
You can pay $150 to $150,000 or more for a system.  You should decide what features you require and determine a budget before you start shopping.

Off-the-shelf, entry-level, DDM systems range from $150 to $500.  They offer document scanning, limited customization options, no workflow features, and some levels of security to protect access to the stored documents.  In general training is not available since they are purchased on the Internet or at general retail outlets. 

Small to medium-sized businesses (SMB) may want to choose a mid-range system from a reputable distributor.  The systems usually include a basic scanner and server, and the computer programs with licenses that allow several employees to use the system.  Typically the total initial cost ranges from $5,000 to $10,000.  The systems should include all the features of off-the-shelf systems plus full-featured security, basic workflow tools, and similar desirable features. The distributor should install them and provide training to ensure your staff knows how to correctly use it.  If you only need to license the computer software, the cost should drop significantly.  DDM could cost $20,000 or more for larger dealership operations that may require customization features, extensive training, and support for many dealership staff.  Ensure all proposals include other fees such as extended warranties and annual maintenance, technical support, equipment and software upgrades, and training for new employees.  Ask about monthly fees for an ASP solution and how they will provide all of your scanned documents and reports if you choose to leave their service and store the information at another ASP.

DDM Vendors