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Document Management System

Jen Gannon
Last Updated May 20, 2022 1:28 am

A document management system is an automated software solution businesses and organizations use to organize, share, and secure the documentation needed for business operations. Learn more about how document management systems work and some of the top solutions in this definition.

What Is a Document Management System and Why Is It Important?

Nearly every business is turning serious attention toward document management systems as space becomes increasingly costly, security issues become more severe, and concerns for eco-friendly business practices become more in demand. Moreover, the trend toward a paperless office has been accelerated as a result of an altered work environment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and growing remote workforces.

This shift toward remote work and hybrid work offices ultimately changes the way organizations manage their documents. It’s imperative to have a solid document management system to support the needs of a distributed workforce.

Important use cases for document management systems include:

  • Organizing documents into digital libraries
  • Increasing security for documents both internally and externally  
  • Optimizing workflows that include tagging team members, approval processes, and project management

What Are the Key Features of a Document Management System?  

While each business will have its own unique sets of criteria for its document management systems, some key features should be found in all, including:

Document input

Systems should include an easy way to import key documents. Documents can enter the system through scanning, emailing, manual or bulk uploading, automated uploading, and mobile and web document uploading options.

Document indexing/search

Document indexing is a tool that allows users to tag or label documents to make them easier to find. Using these identifiers, or tags, ensures files won’t be lost and increases productivity.

Workflow automation

Optimizing business processes should include some level of automation. Saving time, improving employee morale, and preventing human error are only a few reasons why automation should be a key feature of a document management system.

Document security

These tools should include security features, such as document encryption, role-based access, audit trails, indexing of revisions, and SSL support.

User dashboard

A central dashboard for users to view and interpret business data is an essential component of document management systems. These dashboards can include features such as workflow inboxes, reporting, calendars, email and SMS functionalities, and alerts and notifications.

What Are the Pros of Using a Document Management System?

Document management systems can streamline, protect, and optimize business operations. These tools can solve the problems that organizations face as they grow and strive for productivity.

Challenges such as meeting the needs of remote workers, versioning issues, and security weaknesses can all be addressed with a robust document management system.
Additional challenges that document management systems can address include:

  • Reducing manual processes 
  • Increasing employee morale and collaboration
  • Improving productivity
  • Reducing storage space needs
  • Improving regulatory compliance 
  • Preparing for backup and disaster recovery

What Are the Cons of Using a Document Management System?

Getting started with a new document management tool can be costly. The complete cost may include software, hardware, consulting hours, and employee hours for getting things started as well as training.

Other key elements of successful document management system implementation are maintenance and updates. These will be necessary to keep the system running smoothly and to prevent new security risks.

Who Uses Document Management Systems and Why?

Businesses of all sizes benefit from document management systems. They are especially important for businesses that are required to meet regulatory demands in their industries, such as medical or financial organizations.

Other types of businesses that often benefit from document management systems include:

  • Assisted Living: A document management system can help one of the fastest-growing industries, elderly care, by addressing regulatory requirements, high patient turnover rates, data security challenges, and space scarcity.
  • Transportation: The transportation industry is especially spread out. Combined with their need for detailed documentation, transportation companies are great candidates for document management systems with features to support fleets, drivers, and multiple locations.
  • Manufacturers: Manufacturing is another industry that heavily relies on documentation. Document management systems are great resources for manufacturers to optimize their production processes, document safety protocols, and optimize their customers’ experiences. 

Three Top Document Management System Solutions

Microsoft SharePoint Microsoft Logo

Sharepoint is a popular document management system that combines workflow and team collaboration.


  • There are many third-party integration options.
  • It has an easy-to-use interface.
  • It allows for highly configurable workflows.


  • Tech experts may be needed for installation.
  • It may offer more power than most users need.

OnlyOffice OnlyOffice Logo

OnlyOffice is a popular document management solution with both cloud-based and on-premises options. It has a solid core feature set that can be suitable for many businesses at a lower price point.


  • Affordable pricing makes it work for smaller businesses.
  • A feature is available for simultaneous document editing. 


  • Compliance features may not be robust enough for a compliance-heavy organization.
  • The cloud version lacks corporate directory integration.

DocuWare DocuWare Logo

DocuWare Cloud offers a variety of document management features at an affordable price. It receives some of its highest praise for user-friendly forms and data fields.


  • DocuWare offers superior form capabilities.
  • It has robust document import and data field functionalities.


  • Integration with third-party software is limited.
  • Not all features are included and require a separate download process.
  • Sharing functionality is less than desirable for many users.

Interested in finding a solution that fits your business? Take a look at some other top Document Management Systems and Software Solutions here.