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June 6, 2024
March 5, 2024
XX min read

What is Document Management?

A document management system also allows you to create, modify, and manage business files. These documents may be PDFs, word processing files, scanned and saved images of paper-based content, emails, financial reports, and spreadsheets.

What are the benefits of a document management system?

A document management system automates the enterprise document management processes, saving you and your employees valuable time, as well as helping you clear and declutter existing physical and digital storage spaces. 

  • Organized and appropriately tagged documents can be more easily retrieved – another time-saver that will also reduce frustration among your employees and clients.
  • Automated processes can also capture metadata, help validate and verify your documents, and classify them, improving employee workflows and enhancing collaboration capabilities. 
  • Built-in security features can help you set access and permission rules and see when documents have been viewed, shared, and edited. 
  • Document management also allows you to backup previously paper-based files, as well as digital files like emails, so they don’t get lost. 

What is an EDMS system?

An electronic document management system (EDMS) makes it possible to more efficiently store, organize, search, share, and distribute many types of documents throughout your organization. 

An EDMS can be seamlessly integrated into regular workflows. This provides users access to tools and automated processes that make creating and converting documents less time-consuming and more reliable. An EDMS also helps carve a path to faster and easier collaboration within those documents, storing and accessing files, and securing and verifying these documents. 


7 document management systems examples

There are several types of document management systems available, so it’s important to review the features of each to determine which one best meets your organization’s needs.

Project management platforms

When planning and managing projects, project managers and employees can access a central repository containing relevant documents. With this software, project teams can store files and share them with each other in read-only or editable formats. 

Internal knowledge bases

An internal knowledge base is created by and for team members within an organization to tap into proprietary and/or private knowledge on an as-needed basis. It should contain as much information and documentation as possible in order to help employees do their jobs with minimal interruption. It is an effective way to store, manage, and share internal documents. 

Collaboration tools

Collaboration tools offer members of your organization working together on specific documents instant access, a clear view of who is working on each section or component, clearly defined approval structures, and notifications when edits or updates are needed or complete. 

Knowledge management tools

Knowledge management refers to how an organization catalogs, updates, and uses the collective knowledge of its employees—both past and present. It also refers to the analysis of that knowledge. Documents are important examples of that captured knowledge, and knowledge management tools allow for centralized digital filing for company documents. As a result, documents can be more easily retrieved—making for more efficient workflows. In addition, a well-maintained knowledge management system can help companies remain compliant with ever-changing regulatory statutes. When a document management system is enhanced with passwords and backup procedures, document security is also enhanced.

Web-based document management tools

Web-based document management allows your organization to organize digital documents into folders and subfolders with web-based navigation and controls for document sharing, searching, and retrieval. Web-based document management tools allow your employees working from various locations to create, collaborate on, share, and search documents efficiently and securely. 

Cloud-based document management systems

Cloud-based document management is provided by an external vendor and made accessible to your organization online. The cloud provider typically handles all maintenance and software updates, so you will not need an IT team to install or maintain it. Documents stored in the cloud can be accessed anywhere your employees can get online, and because files automatically save in the cloud, you don’t need to worry about backing them up. 

On-premises document management systems

With an on-premises document management system, your organization employs its own servers and storage and performs its own maintenance. You will need to back up all of your files to ensure documents are retained and secure. While you are always in control of your system, your organization will need sufficient IT support for maintenance and updates. One advantage is that because on-premises systems are not dependent on internet connections, you will still be able to access documents if your connection is down.

Document management examples capabilities & features

Effective document management systems include certain features and capabilities to ensure all of your organization’s documents are properly captured, converted, stored, organized and tagged, easily retrieved, and ready for distribution and collaboration. These features include:

Intelligent organization

To improve workflows, save time, and enhance your organization’s efficiency, you want the right people to be able to find the right documents fast. A well-organized document organization system that employs smart categorization, tagging, rating, and verification will make your searches quicker and more intuitive.

Clear visibility and navigation

Your document management system should be user-friendly. An attractive interface with clearly visible search features and other tools will mean less frustration and more acceptance and use by your teams.

A strong search feature

Less time spent searching for the documents they need means your employees will have more time to collaborate, innovate, and otherwise move your organization forward. The ability to search all of your company’s documents at once, after those documents have been optimized by your document management system for search, means less frustration and more productivity among your teams. 

Version control

A document management system that preserves all versions (and associated edits and updates) of your files is important for easily identifying errors or discrepancies among contributors, tracking document progress and changes, avoiding content duplication, and sometimes avoiding complete rewrites when problems arise. 

Access and permissions

Not every member of your organization needs to edit or contribute to every document. Some important documents should be read-only or only amendable by specific managers, while others need to be editable by key teams. The ability to set specific permissions will give the right people access to the right documents. 

Diverse file format capabilities

Business documents may be in a wide variety of file formats, from PDFs and word processing files, to scanned and saved images of paper-based content, to emails, financial reports, and spreadsheets. You need a document management system that can support them all. 

Key takeaways 🔑🥡🍕

How does a document management system enhance data security?

A document management system enhances data security by implementing role-based access controls, encryption, audit trails, and compliance protocols that ensure sensitive information is protected from unauthorized access and data breaches. These systems can also track who has accessed or modified documents and provide secure backups to prevent data loss.

How does a document management system support remote work?

A document management system supports remote work by allowing documents to be accessed, shared, and collaborated on from any location via the internet. Cloud-based systems offer particularly robust support for remote teams, ensuring that employees can work efficiently from different locations while maintaining document security and integrity.

What are the costs of implementing a document management system?

Cost considerations for implementing a document management system include initial setup fees, ongoing maintenance costs, subscription fees for cloud-based services, and potential costs for additional storage or custom features. Organizations should also consider the return on investment in terms of time saved and increased productivity when evaluating these costs.

Written by
Mark Whelan
A version of this article was originally published in 2020.
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