business.com receives compensation from some of the companies listed on this page. Advertising Disclosure
A document management system (DMS) can make a significant difference in how smoothly your business runs. It makes capturing, digitizing and tagging documents quick and easy, giving you the time to focus on more pressing areas of your business. A good DMS will greatly increase the efficiency of your business and can provide valuable extra benefits, such as increased security, collaboration and automated regulatory compliance.
When deciding which DMS service is right for you, focus on both the features you need now and those that you may want in the future as your business grows.
A document management system is software that provides an automated way to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper documents. DMS started as a way to convert paper documents into digital documents, which is why a DMS may sometimes be called an electronic filing cabinet, but a DMS has many more sophisticated features these days.
A document management system can be used to capture, distribute, and track documents and to manage channel workflows, output systems, and information retrieval systems. Learn more about the top options in DMS.
Editor’s note: Looking for a document management system for your business? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.
Not all document management systems are created equal. “DMS” is a broad term representing several different software capabilities. Your business type and productivity needs determine the best DMS for your company.
These are the DMS offerings you could choose for your business:
The three main functions of a document management system are to capture, store and distribute documents. Here’s how it does that.
A document management system must be able to capture a document from any source, be it paper, email, CRM applications or reports, so that the document can be indexed for easy searching later. Indexing is a way to classify a document by adding terms to its metadata, such as tags, order numbers or customer information. Document capture varies by the type of document you are trying to capture.
Proper document storage is the second most important part of a DMS. Having all your documents stored in one central location allows all employees who need access to the documents – both static (documents your company creates every day, like invoices) and dynamic (webpages, forms and emails) – to get to them quickly and easily.
Central storage also helps protect your documents from error and malicious intent. A DMS typically comes with version control, which tracks the changes made to a document and identifies who made them. You can also set permissions to control who has access to which documents, and who can make which types of changes.
The third most important aspect of a DMS is the ability to easily retrieve and distribute documents. A DMS lets you search any document for a keyword and bring it up quickly. This is where the importance of thorough indexing comes in.
You will then be able to send out documents in any manner that you need, such as through email or file transfer protocol (FTP), and automate manual business processes and workflows. For example, you can integrate your DMS with your ERP, setting it so that when an order originates in your ERP, it will trigger a workflow in your document management system that moves the order through an approval and fulfillment process automatically.
Document management systems automatically organize, secure, digitize and index your company’s documents, making them easy to access, edit and share.
Many companies have shifted from traditional paper filing services to DMS because an automated system saves time, money and space. A DMS also eliminates the need for multiple programs to handle your workflow, as all necessary functions are housed under a single interface.
When looking for a DMS, you should keep an eye out for several key features.
Pricing for document management services depends on the type of hosting and how many people in your company will need access. The two main types of hosting are cloud-based and on-premises.
A DMS should make your work easier and more efficient, saving you and your employees hours of repetitive tasks and the frustration of not finding the documents you need.
Here are some of the many benefits of using a DMS system.
If you currently use a manual or paper document management system, you are costing yourself hours that you could devote to more pressing matters of your business. A DMS automates many aspects of document management, taking that responsibility off your hands.
As the world continues to go digital, keeping your information and documents secure becomes a higher priority. Document management systems have built-in security and access controls so that you can control exactly who can access which documents, as well as track and see all activity on any given document.
In the event of a disaster, like a fire or flood, your files are stored safely in the cloud, away from physical harm.
A DMS is more flexible than a traditional paper filing system. It easily grows along with your business, and you can adjust your indexing system with a few clicks. It also reduces the need for physical storage space for files and paper documents.
Compliance requirements for many business documents can be complex and demanding. A DMS can help you avoid fines, revoked licenses or even criminal liability by automating key documents to meet the requirements. For example, HIPAA and Sarbanes-Oxley both have strict security and policy regulations regarding documents and records; a DMS will automatically follow those guidelines for you.
Searching for the right document when you have an entire business’s worth to go through can be difficult and time-consuming, and can even cost you money. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimated that the process of finding one lost document can cost a company $122 on average, and 7.5% of all documents end up getting lost.
Proper indexing lets you find a document in mere seconds, and it also allows employees to remotely access the documents they need.
A DMS makes sharing information and collaborating easy, allowing documents from different sources to be accessible from multiple locations. You can share documents, monitor workflows, grant or deny access to certain documents, and see what changes have been made.
andrei_r / Getty Images