What is a Document Management System (DMS)?
It is an automated business software solution and is used to organise, secure, store, capture, digitise, and tag business files and documents. They are capable of keeping a record of the various versions created and modified by different users.
DMS has some overlap with enterprise content management systems and are also related to digital asset management, document imaging, workflow systems and records management systems.
How does a Document Management System work?
There are three main functions of a document management system – to capture, store and distribute documents. DMS makes sharing information and collaborating easy, allowing documents from different sources to be accessible from multiple locations. Users can share documents, monitor workflows, co-author documents and more.
What types of Document Management System are there?
There are a few different types of document management systems – depending on how they are classified.
The selection of a DMS system is dependent on what a company’s IT infrastructure is based on i.e., cloud-based, on-site or hybrid?
- Cloud-based document management systems store your files in the cloud, making them accessible anywhere there’s an internet connection.
- Some companies may require on-site document management, where files are stored on a local server. This may be necessary when certain regulations mandate local storage or when certain countries require data sovereignty, for example.
- A hybrid DMS allows for a combination of both options.
What are the main features of an effective Document Management System?
A document management system may have several features that ultimately evolve into more intelligent information management practices. Some key features to explore in a DMS include:
An effective DMS helps users find documents and information based on document identifiers, metadata, relationships and content.
The majority of workers are unable to find a document easily because it has been poorly named or filed. In a DMS, because information is tagged with metadata based on what it is, the same information can be searched for and found using different criteria depending on the user requirements. Unique information appears dynamically where it is needed without duplication.
Many document management systems integrate with other business systems and repositories – email, network folders, CRM, ERP, legacy ECM and others.
Version control Version control features ensure access to the latest version of a document. Version control and tracking makes it easy to see what has changed, who did it and when the change was made.
Regulatory compliance support
If you operate in a regulated industry, a document management system can help reduce the risk of non-compliance. Users can automate audit trails and manage information and related workflows in accordance with compliance regulations.
When selecting a document management system, a company should pay attention to the scalability of that system. Looking beyond current needs, find a DMS that has advanced features that accommodate business growth or change.
A DMS should provide robust security features like access permission and control features, audit trails, federated authentication, enterprise file encryption in transit and at rest, intrusion detection, data loss prevention, high availability and more.
Since a DMS becomes core technology for the business, it’s important that the user experience is a great one – with easy accessibility, little to no downtime and simple-to-use features. Employees should be able to easily access, manage and navigate files.
A DMS should make it simple for users to share and collaborate on documents – with features like project document management, task tracking, workflows, co-authoring and easy sharing of documents between users.
Some advanced document management systems employ artificial intelligence. AI can help classify documents by populating metadata fields, scan files for certain data and separate business-critical data from clutter.
Manually managing day-to-day processes isn’t a good use of time. A DMS with workflow automation helps ensure consistency by verifying that every step in a business process is followed. Automated workflows streamline common business processes – like contract approvals, controlled content, and invoicing – sending a notification when there’s a task to be handled.
A cloud-based DMS allows users to access files from anywhere and often from any device, enabling remote working anywhere: at the office, home, airport, hotel, coffee shop etc.
What are the Benefits of Using a Document Management System?
A DMS should make work easier, more productive, and more efficient, saving staff hours of tedious tasks and the exasperation of not finding the documents they need quickly. Main benefits include the following:
- Increased Productivity
When workers spend less time searching for documents or tending to manual, repetitive tasks, they have more time to dedicate to value-adding work.
- Decreased Security
Risk Keeping information secure and applying dynamic access controls reduces information security risk and exposure. In the event of an unforeseen fire or flood, disaster recovery is simple when documents are stored in the cloud.
- Improved Compliance Measures
Compliance requirements for many business documents can be complicated and challenging. A DMS helps organisations avoid fines, revoked licenses or even criminal liability by automating key documents to meet regulatory requirements.
- Fast and Easy Document Search
Workers spend too much time searching for a document. A metadata based DMS makes it quick and easy to find just the right document.
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