Whether you are running a small business or a large enterprise, an electronic document management system (EDMS) can help you manage all your documents and go paperless.
Some features are common to all document management software, such as collaboration, file storage, secure sharing, robust search, access control, and security.
In addition to common features, each industry or commercial sector has its own particular needs. For example,
- Software developers need to access all versions of software documentation, and therefore require version control.
- Legal firms need to manage data and documents for each client or matter.
- Healthcare enterprises need to manage images as well as documents, and comply with standards such as HIPAA.
- Financial service institutions need to comply with multiple regulations.
- Businesses need customizable workflows that are aligned with business processes.
There are document management software that support all the common functions. And then there are document management software that support the common functions, and in addition, are optimized for a particular industry or sector.
In this article, we have reviewed various document management software solutions that are available on the market. We have selected the best document management software for a range of industrial and commercial sectors.
Best Document Management Software
Here are our top picks for the best document management software for this year:
- Microsoft SharePoint Online: Best Overall
- Github: Best for Software Document Management
- Alfresco: Best for Healthcare Document Management
- ProLaw: Best for Legal Document Management
- Rubex by eFileCabinet: Best for Government Document Management
- PeopleDoc: Best for HR Document Management
- Document Locator: Best for Financial Services Document Management
- OpenKM: Best Free Document Management Software
Let’s jump to the detailed review of the best document management software.
For each software, we have focused on the key features, advantages, and some of the known disadvantages. Where possible, we have also included the pricing.
Pricing for some of the reviewed document management systems is not listed on their websites. If you need a quote, you will have to contact them directly.
1. Microsoft SharePoint Online: Best Overall
Microsoft SharePoint Online is a cloud-based enterprise document management system. It helps organizations share and manage content, knowledge, and applications to empower teamwork, find information quickly, and collaborate seamlessly across the organization.
Sharepoint supports seamless integration with Microsoft office to enhance productivity for teams of all sizes.
The Sharepoint mobile app is available for iOS and Android. Users can access documents and collaborate from the office, from home, and on the move.
- Comprehensive document management features for all types of businesses: collaboration tools, file sharing, version control, access control, and security.
- Team sites for project teams, departments, and divisions.
- Powerful search and intelligent ways to discover information, expertise, and insights to inform decisions and guide action.
- With Power Automate you can implement automation for business processes through complex automated workflows.
- Power Apps, a suite of apps, services, and connectors, provides you with an environment to build custom apps for your business needs.
- A rich set of tools to help you create and maintain your organization's intranet.
- Seamless integration with the entire suite of Microsoft business applications including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Outlook. The solution also supports greater compatibility with key web browsers such as Firefox, Edge, Chrome, and Safari.
- A wide range of customization options including branding for sites and workflow automation. You can also make programmatic changes to your SharePoint environment through Office Developer Patterns and Practices APIs, the Microsoft 365 CLI, the Microsoft Graph API, and the SharePoint Framework.
- Support for a wide range of third-party apps and solutions.
- Sharepoint migration tool (SPMT) is a free and easy-to-use migration solution that helps you migrate content from on-premises SharePoint sites to Microsoft 365.
- Robust technical support.
- No free-trial option.
- Requires developers for complex customization, which might not be feasible for small businesses.
- Employees need training to get the most out of the platform.
- As it is a cloud-based solution, the bandwidth requirement will increase in proportion to the number of users.
Sharepoint is available separately or as part of Microsoft 365 / Office 365 subscription plans.
Microsoft offers three pricing plans for SharePoint Online.
- Plan 1: This plan is suitable for small and medium-sized businesses. Microsoft Office applications are not included in the plan. The monthly subscription is $5 per user. The free is paid on an annual basis and auto-renews. Users get 1 TB storage on OneDrive. Services included in the plan are SharePoint, OneDrive, and Lists.
- Plan 2: This plan is geared towards larger enterprises. Microsoft Office applications are not included in the plan. The per-user monthly subscription is $10. The subscription fee is payable on an annual basis and auto-renews. If there are at least five users, each user gets unlimited storage. Services included in the plan are SharePoint, OneDrive, and Lists.
- Plan 3 (part of Office 365 E3 plan): This plan is aimed at enterprises that require advanced services for messaging, document sharing, compliance, and management features for IT. The monthly subscription for each user is $23. The free is paid on an annual basis and auto-renews. Services included in the plan are Exchange, Skype for Business, Yammer, Teams, SharePoint, OneDrive, Delve, and Lists.
2. Github: Best for Software Document Management
GitHub is a platform that hosts public and private software code and provides software development and collaboration tools. Features include version control, issue tracking, code review, team management, and syntax highlighting.
Github offers many features that make it a top-rated platform for software developers worldwide. It is the most prominent source code host: over 60 million repositories were created over one year through September 2021, and over 56 million developers were using the platform.
Github is a tool that helps you develop software and share it with your team or with the world. However, it will be difficult for users to make the best use of your software without excellent and comprehensive documentation. There is no denying that documentation is the ultimate advertisement for technical stakeholders. Many organizations make their purchasing decisions based on the quality of a product’s documentation.
That is why Github provides tools for creating and sharing project documentation. With Github, you can develop software and its documentation. The beauty of the Github approach is that it allows multiple team members to work on projects simultaneously and manage both software code and its documentation. You can also create websites for your documentation with a Github service called Github Pages.
Git is free and open-source software that allows you to track changes in any set of files. It keeps track of every modification to the files in a special database. Git is usually used for coordinating work among programmers working collaboratively to develop source code for software.
Github uses the version control and source code management functionality provided by Git and offers several additional features.
- You can iteratively improve the software and its documentation at the same time. Github document management does not only manage version control for your source code, it also manages version control for the documentation so that you can always access previous versions if the need arises.
- With tools such as Github Pages, you can easily publish the documentation to the web, where it will be accessible to all users.
- Collaboration tools that allow multiple team members to work on documentation simultaneously.
- Mobile apps enable development and collaboration on the go.
- A free basic plan for individuals and organizations who want to try out the platform before making an investment.
- Organizations can manage software source code and related documentation on the same platform.
- Version control allows maintenance of all software documentation versions.
- All contributions are tracked, so it's easy to identify contributors.
- Integrated tools allow documentation publishing to the web.
- Organizations can host multiple concurrent projects on the platform.
- Desktop and web clients are robust, simple to learn, and easy to use.
- The subscription fees for paid plans are on the high side, which may not be feasible for smaller organizations.
- The subscription fee is valid for one year, after which it is subject to change.
- All data and documents are hosted on the cloud. Github's status as an industry leader has led to targeted DDOS attacks by sophisticated attackers. Github Enterprise Security is only available with the priciest Enterprise plan.
- Prior command-line experience is required to get the most out of Github.
Github offers three pricing plans:
- Free: a basic plan for individuals and organizations, with 500 MB of storage and community support.
- Team: discounted rate of $44 per user per year, with 2 GB of storage and web-based support.
- Enterprise: discounted rate of $231 per user per year, with 50 GB storage, advanced auditing, user provisioning, advanced security, and premium support.
3. Alfresco: Best for Healthcare Document Management
Alfresco is a commercial, open-source software company whose mission is to provide a better way for people to work. The Alfresco Digital Business Platform is a modern, enterprise-class, cloud-native platform that enables organizations to build digital operations to deliver instant services with exceptional experiences.
Users working in the healthcare sector have to deal with a lot of paperwork such as numerous medical history records, insurance cards, and test results. Therefore, easy document digitization and fast document retrieval in case of emergency are the primary needs for any medical institution.
One of the critical reasons healthcare organizations require document management software is regulatory compliance. Lack of compliance can lead to revocation of licenses, fines, and loss of customer trust. The document management system must ensure compliance by providing a secure repository for data storage, permissions, and version control.
Alfresco helps healthcare providers worldwide consolidate patient data, from any source, into a single patient view—so you can see your patients more clearly than ever.
Alfresco transforms how patient information is managed, shared, and processed across the continuum of care - empowering you to become paperless and mobile while removing barriers to more collaborative working.
Alfresco is an easy to integrate platform that complements and extends your existing Electronic Medical Records (EMRs), helping you better manage patient data and easily automate clinical processes- allowing clinicians to focus on their patients.
- Consolidation of all data - including structured and unstructured data and EMR - into a single patient view.
- Easy query, search, and retrieval of patient imaging, regardless of its source or format.
- Cross-Enterprise Document Sharing (XDS) enabled, allowing health information exchange between different systems.
- Vendor-neutral archive consolidates all Connect Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) and non-DICOM clinical imagery from any vendor. This makes sharing information between multiple Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) easy.
- Healthcare professionals can easily create e-forms and optimize workflow processes with minimal IT involvement.
- Secure collaboration for access to up-to-date patient information.
- Secure availability of critical information on any device.
- HIPAA compliant: The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) is a federal law that requires the creation of national standards to protect sensitive patient health information from being disclosed without the patient's consent or knowledge.
- Suited to any small and large medical enterprise, from 100 to 1000 users.
- Advanced and easily-configurable Optical Character Recognition (OCR) allows easy digitization of patient medical records and other documents.
- Fast document search and retrieval.
- Customizable workflow management streamlines business processes.
- Alfresco's SAP-certified Connector can help cut costs and break critical business information from SAP-specific processes.
- Cloud sync capability enables document sharing with third parties and backup for critical documents.
- The user interface (UI) is not intuitive.
- UI is not easy to customize.
- Documentation is not centralized, and information is not easy to find.
Alfresco offers three plans for clients:
- Starter Edition: up to 100 users, with additional modules including Microsoft Outlook client.
- Business Edition: up to 300 users, with support for all modules included in Starter Edition, plus additional modules including Document Transformation Engine.
- Enterprise Edition: up to 1,000 users, with support for all modules included in Business Edition, plus additional modules including Alfresco Index Engine.
Contact Alfresco for a custom quote.
4. ProLaw: Best for Legal Document Management
ProLaw is a Law Practice Management (LPM) software suite. It helps you simplify your practice and enhance productivity across your organization.
ProLaw provides instant access to essential information that you need to collaborate with clients and colleagues.
Reporting and business intelligence tools enable quick data analysis and standard and customized report generation.
ProLaw provides extensive integration support for several applications, including Microsoft Outlook, Word, Adobe Acrobat and Reader, Intuit® QuickPayroll, and more.
ProLaw is server/desktop-based software. You can run it either
- On your firm’s in-house servers, or
- Host it on a Private Cloud.
- Advanced document management including full-text search, document storage, document tagging & profiling, and version management.
- Streamlined case and matter management through immediate access to important case and matter information.
- Streamlined processes for managing all accounting, time and expenses, invoicing, and payables.
- ProLaw Workspace provides a simplified web-based interface to the ProLaw database for power users.
- Paperless Proforma replaces or supplements time-consuming paper-based proforma distribution and mark-up procedures.
- A central database for storing information related to clients, courts, and other contacts.
- Tracks billable hours and expenses for clients.
- Remote access.
- All-in-one software suite for legal firms.
- Shorter learning curve for new hires.
- Intuitive UI.
- Seamless integration with the Microsoft Office suite for documents and Outlook for email.
- On-premise solution with significant CAPEX involvement.
- IT resources are required to manage hardware and software.
- Lack of quality customer service.
ProLaw is modular software. You can purchase the modules you need, including law practice management, document management, billing, and accounting.
ProLaw offers a free demo.
For pricing information, contact Thomson Reuters.
5. Rubex by eFileCabinet: Best for Government Document Management
Rublex by eFileCabinet is a cloud-based document management software that can help you manage, store, and protect documents related to the operation of government agencies.
Government agencies are legally required to store and manage substantial amounts of data. From meeting agendas to maps, drawings and permits, storage space is at a premium, and immediate document access is imperative. Rublex provides a simple to use, cost-effective system to streamline your document storage and management challenges. Paper documents are scanned, stored, and managed digitally, dramatically reducing costs and improving service.
- Workflow automation to program the system to perform certain tasks when specified conditions are met. You can create approval workflows based on different factors.
- eSignature is the fastest way to sign documents online for indicating consent or approval for digital documents.
- Dual-screen preview to view different documents or different versions of the same document side by side.
- Email import, when combined with workflow automation, adds a new dimension to process automation for the document management system.
- eFileCabinet has partnered with SecureDrawer for encryption of files up to 1GB in size. All documents are encrypted in transmission.
- Version control for documents and maintenance of each document version.
- Custom templates for quick generation of common document types.
- OCR for image digitization, document search, and pulling keywords out into the metadata fields.
- Comprehensive document management.
- Great search features.
- Intuitive user interface.
- Integration with Microsoft Office, QuickBooks, Salesforce, Sage, and Foxit. API integration is available at the Advantage level and higher-level pricing plans.
- Excellent technical support.
- Remote access via mobile apps.
- Learning curve for first-time users.
- Pricing for monthly subscriptions is slightly more expensive.
Rubex by eFileCabinet offers three plans which differ in storage space and supported features. The plans are billed annually. Monthly billing is available at a slightly higher price point.
- Advantage – $55 per user, per month (3-user minimum): 1 TB of storage space and includes secure file sharing, workflow automation, custom, and preset templates, user check-in and checkout, profile tagging, e-signature tools, audit trail features, and mobile access.
- Business – $99 per user, per month: 5TB of storage space, and in addition to the features available in the Advantage plan, includes onboarding tools, manager and admin approvals, and data-specific file routing. Workflow automation tools and zonal optical character recognition (OCR) capture are available as add-ons.
- Unlimited – $199 per user, per month: The Unlimited plan offers all the features in the Business plan with unlimited storage capacity. Support for zonal OCR and workflow automation tools is included in the subscription.
6. PeopleDoc: Best for HR Document Management
PeopleDoc is a cloud-based human resource (HR) management software that enables businesses to manage administrative workflows and facilitate employee onboarding processes.
Primary features include case management, HR process automation, file management, employee management, and onboarding.
The advanced analytics module allows supervisors to monitor key performance indicators (KPI), document expiration dates, and service level agreements (SLA) on a dashboard.
With PeopleDoc HR, you can perform efficient HR document management. You can create, sign, store, access, share, and delete employee files in one secure place. The files are accessible on any device and available wherever you are.
- Create simple and complex documents using the information in PeopleDoc or from your other HR system.
- Create, sign, manage, store, and secure all your documents associated with an employee, generated from any of your systems in a centralized employee file folder.
- Perform advanced search using multiple criteria, such as document type, employee, dates, or other metadata.
- Control access to files based on document type and user role.
- Securely share documents with managers, employees, or external third parties via online sharing spaces rather than via email or paper.
- Quickly view missing documents or documents about to expire, and quickly request these from your employees.
- Place documents under litigation hold with an easy click of a button.
- Set retention schedules by document type and geography to ensure documents are retained in compliance with legal requirements and company policy.
- Cloud storage to keep HR documents safe and secure.
- HR case management and portal for gaining insight into organizational HR policies.
- Third-party app integration.
- Reporting and dashboards.
- Self-service portal.
- High-quality technical support.
- Business Intelligence (BI) reports lack customization.
For pricing information, contact PeopleDoc.
7. Document Locator: Best for Financial Services Document Management
Document Locator is electronic document control and automation software for insurance, banking, wealth management, mortgage, and other financial services firms.
Document Locator is available as on-premises software or hosted in the cloud. ColumbiaSoft offers cloud hosting services using Microsoft Azure.
- Centralized document repository with high-level security.
- Standard and custom workflows that include forms routed for approval as per requirements.
- Regulatory and compliance requirements are omni-present in the financial services industry. Effective control and management of documents within the scope of regulatory requirements is essential to avoiding penalties and potentially severe financial consequences. A few examples of relevant regulations include FRCP, SEC, IRS, Graham-Leach-Bliley, and the Patriot Act. Document Locator's document control capabilities, including security, workflow, records policies, and more, help you manage financial documents in compliance with regulations.
- Audit logging of document activities.
- Annotations, redactions, and digital signatures.
- With SQL Server, stored data is encrypted which is essential for sensitive data.
- Adds meta-data to each document.
- Vibrant web interface and access via the desktop app.
- Strong technical support.
- Email integration with Outlook.
- Integration with Microsoft Office.
- Strong API for interfacing with other software.
- Customizable reports.
- For on-premises setup, only works in the Windows environment.
- Administrators require training to come up to speed with the software.
- Documentation can be a bit complex.
- No mobile apps.
The subscription fees for the on-site and hosted versions of Document Locator are:
- On-premise: $260 per user, per year (15-user minimum).
- Cloud: $633 per user, per year (15-user minimum).
8. OpenKM: Best Free Document Management Software
OpenKM is a document management solution available on-premise or on the cloud, which helps businesses manage documents by capturing, processing, and securing data from various digital sources.
OpenKM includes a content repository, Lucene indexing, and jBPM workflow. The OpenKM system was developed using open technology (Java, Tomcat, Lucene, Hibernate, Spring).
OpenKM is available to the open-source community under the GNU General Public Licence version 2. The OpenKM source code is available for the entire community, which is free to use, modify and redistribute under the premises of such license. The source code is available on Github.
- With automatic cataloging, you can automatically set business logic. You can set rules based on events and for e.g. move documents to a new destination, change security, and apply document transformations.
- With version control, you can manage changes made to documents, and track timestamps and the user making the change. You can compare modifications graphically and restore previous document versions.
- With complete and configurable audit trails, you have documentary evidence of the sequence of activities that have affected everything in the system at any time a specific operation, procedure, or event.
- With OCR you can convert various types of documents, such as scanned paper documents, PDF files, or images captured by a digital camera into editable and searchable data. OpenKM supports integratation with open source and commercial OCR engines.
- Automatic metadata capture: with OCR you can perform data capture and document processing. The feature allows the transformation of streams of documents of any structure into business-ready data. Thanks to OpenKM architecture, it is possible to integrate with commercial technology like Abby Flexicapture, Kofax, Cognitive Forms, among others.
- OpenKM supports integration with third-party applications. Integrations are available for Bonitasoft BPM, Microsoft Office, Vtiger among others.
- API integration.
- Outdated UI.
- Buggy OCR.
- Help documentation is not comprehensive.
There are three editions of the software:
- A free Community Edition: suitable for a small number of users with limited storage requirements. Support is only available through the public forum. Supported operating systems include Windows Server, Debian, Ubuntu, Linux Mint, RedHat, CentOS, Fedora, and others.
- Cloud Edition: the number of users and available storage scales according to requirements. Remote support is available from OpenKM technicians with guaranteed response times. You also get the backup option and Amazon Web Services (AWS) option.
- Professional Edition: unlimited users and storage. Remote support is available from OpenKM technicians with guaranteed response times. You also get the backup option and Amazon Web Services (AWS) option.
Your business needs a document management solution. There never was any doubt about that!
Many document management systems are available. Choosing the solution that is right for you is complicated. The choice depends on several factors. The most important factor is your business requirements.
Other factors related to the document management software include features, pricing, third-party app integration, and many, many more.
If you are already using a document management software, and are thinking of migrating to a different one, then you also need to consider the migration process, and the time and effort required to migrate data.
All in all, it's a decision that must be taken after conducting due diligence. So make an informed decision, and take your business to new heights.
Josh is the founder of Technical Writer HQ and Squibler, a writing software. He had his first job in technical writing for a video editing software company in 2014. Since then, he has written several books on software documentation, personal branding, and computer hacking. You can connect with him on LinkedIn here.