What is a document management system?

You wonder what is a document management system and what is it used for?

You are at the right place!

This article is written to quickly provide what you need to know about a document management system.

A document management system is a software system or technological tool that will help you manage your digital data and information such as Word documents, PDF, voice files, videos, recordings, sound files, spreadsheets. The document management system will also help you digitize and store your paper-based documents such as printed emails, faxes, receipts, legacy contracts and any other paper document. Ultimately, the idea is to consolidate all your physical and electronic data into one single repository.

In this article we will go over:

  1. What is a document management system?
  2. Document management system main features
  3. Why is document management important?
  4. Key features of an effective document management system?
  5. Document management system takeaways

Let’s get started…

1- What is a document management system?

What is a document management system

Document management is the use of a technological platform or system to track, manage and store a document. The document management process can be for the management of a digital document or the conversion of paper-based documents to digital files and documents. 

According to Webopedia, document management is “the computerized management of electronic as well as paper-based documents. Document management systems generally include the following components: An optical scanner and OCRsystem to convert paper documents into an electronic form, a database system to organize stored documents, a search mechanism to quickly find specific documents”.

According to ISO 12651-2, a document is “recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit”.

In a nutshell, document management is a software tool that helps you manage, structure, organize, store and keep control of all your documents within an organization. 

With the volume of data organizations need to manage on a day-to-day basis, having a system to organize and manage that data is essential, if not crucial. A document management system will provide for such capabilities.

2- Document management system main features

What is a document management system

Although document management systems have greatly evolved over the years, we can note, at the high level, some common attributes revolving around the scanning, storing and retrieving process. 

If we drill deeper into the commonalities, we can consider expected features like metadata, indexing, search, security, access and workflow.

Using a document management software, fundamentally, you are looking to digitize your paper-based documents so you can store and access them electronically without having to refer back to the paper-based version.

In many cases, if there are no legal restrictions, you can destroy the original paper-version and only keep the scanned copy for your future archiving needs. 

With regards to the scanning capabilities, you are looking to have a software solution that makes the scanning and conversion of paper-documents to a digital document as painless and easy as possible.

Ideally, you are looking to convert your documents into a PDF format or another readily accessible format. In some cases, your document may be converted to an image only which will reduce your searching and retrieving capabilities. 

When looking at the storage capabilities, you are looking to store your electronic documents in a safe and secure repository. In the past, paper-based documents were archived in warehouses and secure physical locations. 

Today, you can deploy a secure on-premise or cloud-based storage for your electronic documents.

The third main component is with regards to search and retrieval. Your document management system should allow for an easy search and retrieval of the documents you scanned. This can be done through indexing and metadata inclusions.

Your document management system should allow for a user-friendly interface where you can navigate your document repository and perform searches and queries through different filters and options.

3- Why is document management important?

What is a document management system

Document management is crucial for business with the ever increasing data business needs to deal with on a daily basis.

Word documents, spreadsheets, images, videos, voice files, text messages, social media, websites, smartphones, repositories, cloud drives, personal drives, hard drives and the list goes on.

Data creation has accelerated dramatically over the years making it nearly impossible to manage a business without a solid control, management and structuring of its digital documents.

Document management systems are important for business as they can:

  1. digitize all their documents, legacy and commercial contracts;
  2. create a central repository and archiving system for all their documents allowing them to apply the same document management policy to all their contract portfolio from data retention and deletion point of view;
  3. enhance security through monitored and controlled access to the contract repository along with facilitating document sharing and collaboration. 

It is therefore important to have a good document management system and process in place to fully leverage your organization data.

4- Key features of an effective document management system?

What is a document management system

For a detailed review of the features you should expect in a document management system, we have prepared the following list for you to consider:

Document creation

This is to create the document within the system or to digitize an external document such as a paper contract, a commercial document, a receipt, invoice, email or other

Document classification

This is the ability to categorize your documents based on your company policies.

Document search

The search is to allow you to find a relevant document through text search, metadata search or other filters offered by the system.

Document metadata

This is the ability to record additional classification information to your documents so you can easily find them at a later point in time.

Document indexing

Indexing a document is similar to a metadata where you describe or classify your document by index terms or a symbol to indicate what the document is about.

Document viewing interface

Your document management system should allow you to navigate your documents, search, record metadata, index and perform all your operations through an interface and allow you to view your stored documents.

Document editing

Document editing is the possibility of editing or modifying your document in a way that you can trace in the future.

Document sharing

This is an important ability to share documents with others and collaborate on a document together within your document management system.

Document version management

Document version management is the organization of different versions of the same document. Version control is an important feature allowing you to follow the progress in the drafting and evolution of a document.

Document storage repository 

The document management repository will allow you to store your contracts in a central location so you can access and search your entire contract inventory through the application.

Document security and access

Document security and access is your ability to provide users specific access and authorizations so they access only the documents intended for them.

Document workflow

Document workflow is the ability to manage certain document processes directly through the document management system. 

5- Document management system takeaways

What is a document management system

A document management system is a platform enabling you to manage all the data, information and files your organization already possesses and those that will come into its possession. 

With a document management system you can automatically capture, store and archive important volumes of data in such a way that you can centralize your data in one single repository.

Today, document management systems are now included as part of content management systems providing you features and capabilities of a document management system along with added functionalities like artificial intelligence, workflow automation, content processing, mobile and cloud capabilities.

We hope that this article was useful in helping you better understand what are document management systems?

Are you using a document management system? What’s your experience? Share your comments and feedback with us, we would love to hear from you.