What is a Document Management System?

Updated on February 22nd, 2022

A document management system (DMS) is a system that receives, tracks, manages, and stores documents to decrease paper usage in document management processes. Most can maintain track of the multiple versions generated and edited by different users. In the case of digital document management, such solutions are based on computer applications.

As the name indicates, the ideal definition of an effective document management system is a system or program that allows the production, storage, management, indexing, protection, and retrieval of digital documents.

Simply put, a DMS is a business software solution that organizes, secures, stores, captures, digitizes, and tags business files for business processes.

There isn't a single organization on the planet that can go a single day without examining and exchanging documents. Business processes include marketing brochures, project proposals, technical documents, HR rules, and training materials are just a few examples.

Many document management software systems go beyond basic functionality to include document-related workflows. In addition, some document management software systems tout a plethora of other add-ons, features, and capabilities, giving rise to other names and designations such as enterprise content management (ECM), enterprise information management (EIM), and intelligent information management (IIM). Enterprise content management or enterprise document management is the process of operating the whole wheel-of-life of an organization's content, papers, tables, scanned images and agreements.

Document management is frequently referred to as an overarching strategy for how a company stores, manages, and tracks electronic documents by using document management applications.

Although most document management systems save all of your digital paper in the cloud document management, they are much more than that. A document management software system is a framework that allows vital information to move quickly within a company.

An intelligent document management software system may assist in organizing all of your files and data in one location, keep track of all of your key documents, speed up your workflow, improve accuracy, and provide around-the-clock access to documents from anywhere in the globe via mobile access in mobile apps.

Choosing a solid document management system helps you stay one step ahead of the competition and give all the information your workers require to conduct their jobs properly.

Document Management System (DMS) Benefits

  • Central document pool for all documents
  • Access to all documents
  • Global access via web
  • Semi or fully automatic storage
  • Complete search results in seconds
  • Process optimization and transparency through workflows
  • Reduce storage space
  • Protection against fire and water damage
  • Documents can be accessed and read for years to come
  • In line with legal document retention

Why is a Document Management System Important?

Our world's increasing digitization has resulted in an exponential increase in incorporating data and content. Every day, your company generates and manages vast volumes of business documents, contracts, proposals, sales decks, marketing collateral, blog articles, HR policies, training manuals, and onboarding materials.

These documents are frequently dispersed among your digital devices—you may have Word files, files stored in cloud programs such as Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, Box, files kept on your desktop, and email attachments.

What happens if you are in the middle of a meeting and can't find a file? Or what if your boss requires a critical document right away, but you can't remember where you put it? Document management solutions are easy to follow.

The organization of your digital files is a sometimes ignored part of being organized. Because you can't see or feel the digital mess you've made, unlike the paper mess from the days of file cabinets, you may not realize you have a problem until you can't find a certain file.

Have you ever squandered valuable time looking for a document on your computer, chats, or email attachments?

You are browsing through hundreds of folders, searching in your chaotic and hugely packed email, looking via your cloud files, and adding to an impossible-to-crack search mission!

Managing this frequently unstructured digital mess and making it available to your workers, clients, partners, or other stakeholders is challenging.

Employees frequently can't discover the correct documents at the right moment or can't access the documents because of time or geographical constraints.

All of this adds up to a significant decrease in productivity.

A DSM plays a significant role in making all tasks linked to documentation management easier, quicker, and more efficient. You can easily use the document management solutions.

There are several reasons why an organization should use a DSM right away. Among them are the following:

1. Cleaning up the Digital Mess

An electronic document management system helps you clean up the unintentionally generated vast digital mess as a document management solution. Our documents are dispersed between laptops, PCs, mobile devices, cloud storage, email attachments, and desktop folders.

It becomes exceedingly tough to identify a certain file when you need it. A DSM allows you to store and search all of your documents in one place by using the best document management software. A good document management system will also assist you in creating digital papers.

Having an all-in-one solution lets you build a central repository of existing material and interact with your team on new content. In addition, you won't have to rely on Word or other document editors to produce digital files and save them somewhere else to use document management solution.

You can find more information at The Ultimate Guide To Process Documentation (With Template).

2. Lessen the Reliance on Paper

If your company still relies on paper documents, transitioning to a DSM can assist minimize dependency on paper and save money on printing, storage, maintenance, filing, and other expenditures by operating the best document management software.

According to one research, companies with yearly revenues ranging from $500k to $1 million may save up to $40k per year by converting to digital document management. In addition, based on filing and retrieval efficiency, avoiding misfiling, and process efficiencies, Laserfiche anticipates a 20% time reduction.

Increased efficiency and productivity can save up to 6,000 hours per year, or 2.4 full-time staff positions.

Going paperless also helps you save a significant quantity of paper waste from the environment, saving thousands of paper pages each month allowing you to make more sustainable and ethical decisions. However, it also offers you a social mission that clients, workers, governments, and customers all want to be a part of.

3. Increase Overall Office Productivity

In this day and age, where your rivals are breathing down your neck, you cannot afford to squander time and effort dealing with digital papers.

When you spend the bulk of your time searching for digital papers across many platforms and devices, you take time away from really accomplishing the task you were recruited to do and meaningfully contributing to your company's bottom line.

Employees who believe they don't have enough hours in the day to finish their work have a 68 percent decline in output. Deploying a DSM for quick document production, filing, editing, team collaboration, and approval is an excellent approach to free up employee working hours.

4. Make Information Access a Breeze

We're sure you have no clue how much valuable time your employees are wasting since they couldn't discover the information or material they were looking for.

Because all of your crucial business documents are strewn among Google Drive, OneDrive, email attachments, PC folders, and USB drives, you can't rely on yourself to discover the particular piece of information you need when you need it!

Easy access to information is a significant benefit of having a DSM. Document management software and document control software systems keeps all files, documents, weblinks, and other rich material in one place in document storage.

This makes it exceedingly easy for team members to access information from any device regardless of their location instantly.

Employees are no longer required to save files to their hard drives or on those easily misplaced USB sticks. Log into your document management system, and you're ready to go.

5. Safety and Security

The best approach to keep your critical company documents safe and secure is to save them digitally in a DSM.

You won't have to worry about the security capabilities of hundreds of applications where your data is stored, and you won't have to remember login information for each app.

A competent DSM includes document access control, document tracking, password security, version control, real-time collaboration, and notifications. Storing files in the cloud ensures that your company's documents are not misplaced and are easily accessible to the appropriate parties.

6. Scalability

The number of documents you create will increase over time as your firm expands and becomes more successful. Unfortunately, more documents mean more clutter, more folders to go through, more cloud storage providers to look for, and more email attachments!

A DSM is essential since it is readily scalable. You may permanently set up or acquire extra cloud storage capacity to ensure that your processes are not disrupted due to your company's success.

7. Quick Search

If you don't have a document management system, finding the correct document at the right moment becomes a pipe dream.

Finding the correct cloud service, desktop folder, or email might consume hours of your valuable time. As a result, one of the most significant aspects of a DSM is its capacity to execute a quick search.

A decent DSM offers powerful searching and indexing features that allow you to locate the specific file, document title, and content inside the document.

The DSM can churn out the needed document at the speed of light, regardless of how extensive your document directory is.

8. Improved Accuracy

Because of the capacity to modify and contribute to the document generation process, digital papers will be more accurate.

A guy is documenting something on a management system.

A good DSM includes all of the tools necessary to generate, modify, and collaborate on documents to assure quality and decrease errors.

All updates made to a document would be accessible to the rest of the group/team using features like version control and document tracking. If you are unhappy with the modifications, you may always go back to a prior version or suggest adjustments.

9. Lower Storage and Supply Costs

The expense of producing and maintaining documents without a document management system may be rather significant.

Paper, printing, office space, storage facilities, cabinets, and employing workers may all make storing your valuable documents an expensive deal.

Even if you keep all of your documents online, the cost of each cloud storage service you use might quickly add up.

By switching to a DSM, you can finally get rid of all those paper files, reduce storage space and regain office space for much more productive work, get rid of those important and ugly files, save a ton of money on paper, printing, ink, and other stationery items, and finally save the cost of hiring new employees to store, search, and retrieve those documents.

10. Gives You a Competitive Advantage

Companies that use a DSM have a competitive advantage over those that continue to store their vital documents on desktop folders, hard drives, cloud storage spaces, and numerous other locations.

There are several advantages for a company that goes digital versus those that do not:

  • First, they are lowering their supply and storage costs.
  • Second, they save money by not hiring new employees to manage paper documents.
  • Third, digital documents are more precise.
  • Finally, employees may have quick and easy access to information, saving them time and effort. As a result, employees can give better service to consumers and offer faster turnaround times.

Employees can focus on the essential things and contribute to the organization's success more effectively since they save a lot of time.

What is the Process of Using a Document Management System?

A document management system has three primary tasks: capture, store, and distribute documents. Again, in its most basic form, a DSM should be able to accomplish at least those three things properly.

Capture Documents From Any Source

A great document management system should allow users to upload documents and files from various sources. Among the possible sources are:

  • Scan, capture, and digitize paper files
  • Emails and their attachments
  • CRM and ERP apps are examples of external applications.
  • User-generated material is stored in the document management system natively.

When documents are put into the DMS from any source, the DMS should have a method to index and classify those documents – typically with metadata.

Central Repository

A document management system's primary duty is to act as the central repository hub for business files. Many simple DMS require a huge migration process to bring all business-critical documents into the system. Intelligent information management solutions are more advanced, such as M-Files, which link to existing repositories, adding metadata and relationships to documents stored in other systems. Integrations eliminate the requirement for migration and allow other systems' environments to stay unaffected.

Information security should be one of the storage considerations. A centralized storage place aids in the protection of company information from hostile attackers. Organizations may manage who has access to certain documents or documents using powerful dynamic permissions.

Easy Document Search and Retrieval

A document management system should make it easy for users to discover information. All files are tagged with metadata so that various parameters may find them. For example, an invoice's metadata may be marked with:

  1. Parties involved in the invoice
  2. Dates to remember
  3. Amount
  4. Business division or department
  5. Description of the services provided or the items purchased

Searches give better results with all of the information tied to the document's metadata, and users may get documents faster and more easily. You may find documents in M-Files using a Google-like search that returns the most relevant files first.

What Purposes Do Document Management Software Systems Serve?

A document management system automatically organizes, secures, digitizes, and classifies corporate documents, making them simple to access, modify, and distribute. Document management software system arose first when businesses wanted to transition away from a paper-based workplace — with manila folders and file cabinets. Document management has now taken on a more significant position in the business computing stack, easing workflows and connecting different collections into a centralized hub.

Different Types

Depending on how they are categorized, there are several types of document management systems.

Cloud vs. On-Premises

What is your ideal IT environment: cloud-based, on-premises, or hybrid?

Cloud-based document management software systems save your files in the cloud, making them available from any location with an internet connection.

Some businesses may require on-premises document management, which involves storing files on a local server. This may be necessary when some legislation necessitates local storage or when certain nations demand data sovereignty.

A hybrid DMS enables the use of both methods.

Folder-Based vs. Folderless

Some document management systems are folder-based, which means they use standard file structures such as folders and sub-folders within the system. Other systems, such as M-Files, are folderless, metadata-based, and repository-independent. It makes no difference where a document is kept in this system. The only thing that counts is the nature of the document, which is determined by metadata.

What Are the Key Features?

As previously said, a document management software system may include several features that progress towards more sophisticated information management methods. Some significant features to look for in a DMS are:

Search

An effective DMS assists users in locating documents and information by using document IDs, metadata, relationships, and content.

Metadata

Ninety-three percent of employees can not locate a document because it was incorrectly titled or filed because the information in a DMS is tagged with metadata according to its kind. The same information may be searched for and discovered using multiple criteria depending on the use case. Without duplication, unique information arrives dynamically when it is required.

Integrations

Many document management systems link with other corporate systems and repositories, including email, network files, CRM, ERP, and legacy ECM.

Version control features guarantee that users access the most recent document version. In addition, version control and tracking make it simple to see what has changed, who made the change, and when it was made.

Support for regulatory compliance

If you work in a regulated field, a document management software system can assist you in limiting the risk of noncompliance. Users may manage information and related workflows in line with compliance rules by automating audit trails and handling information and related workflows.

Scalability

When choosing a DSM, a corporation should consider its scalability. Find a DMS with sophisticated features to handle business growth or change and meet existing demands.

Security

A DMS should have comprehensive security features such as access authorization and control features, audit trails, federated authentication, enterprise file encryption in transit and at rest, intrusion detection, data loss prevention, and high availability.

Usability

Because a DMS is becoming a vital technology for the organization, the user experience must be excellent — with easy access, little to no downtime, and simple-to-use features. Employees should be able to access, manage, and explore files with ease.

Collaboration

A DMS should allow users to exchange and collaborate on documents, including project document management, task tracking, workflows, co-authoring, and easy document sharing between users.

Content Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is used in certain advanced document management systems. Artificial intelligence can assist in categorizing documents by populating metadata fields, scanning files for specific data, and extracting business-critical data from clutter.

Workflows

Managing day-to-day activities manually is a waste of time. A DMS with workflow automation ensures consistency by ensuring that each step of a business process is followed. Automated workflows automate basic business procedures such as contract approvals, controlled content, and invoicing by delivering an alert when a job is has to be completed.

Remote Work

A cloud-based DMS lets users access files from anywhere and typically from any device, allowing for remote work from any place: the workplace, home, airport, hotel, coffee shop...

What Are the Advantages of Implementing a DMS?

A DMS should make work simpler, more productive, and efficient, saving employees hours of tiresome activities and the frustration of not being able to access the documents they want fast. The following are the primary advantages:

Increased Productivity

Workers have more time to devote to value-added work when they spend less time searching for documents or adhering to manual, repetitive chores.

Reduced Security Risk

Keeping information safe and using dynamic access decreases the risk and exposure to information security. When documents are kept in the cloud, disaster recovery is straightforward in the case of an unexpected fire or flood.

Increased Compliance Measures

Many business papers' compliance standards might be extensive and challenging to meet. A DMS helps firms avoid penalties, canceled licenses, and even criminal culpability by automating critical documents to fulfill regulatory standards.

Fast and Simple Document Search

According to Forrester, workers spend 18 minutes looking for a document. A metadata-driven DMS makes it quick and simple to find the correct document.

Improved Collaboration

A DMS facilitates information sharing and collaboration by allowing documents from various sources to be accessed from many places. Users may exchange documents, monitor workflows, and co-author documents.

Conclusion

This blog article covers what a document management software system is. Its benefits, why it is essential, the process of using a document management software system, what purposes document management systems serve, different types of document management systems, the key features of document management systems, the advantages of implementing a document management software system, document management solutions, electronic document management system and document control software.