A document management system (DMS) is a computer system used to track, manage and store electronic documents and files.
The processes a DMS helps with include creating, editing, printing, securing, and indexing documents.
A DMS helps you organize your business documents by providing a central repository for your important files. It can also help you keep track of changes to your documents and who made the changes. This can be important for compliance with regulations or legal purposes. As well as document security and preventing data leaks.
Now, if you’re wondering how a document management system works more practically, its benefits, and how to choose the right one for your business, here’s what we’ll cover:
- What Is A Document Management System (DMS) And How Does It Work?
- 7 Biggest Benefits Of Using A DMS For Your Business
- How To Choose The Right Document Management System
What Is A Document Management System (DMS) And How Does It Work?
As mentioned above, a DMS is a computerized system used to manage and store different types of documents, either in electronic or image form. It works by allowing users to create, view, edit, secure and search for different documents from a centralized location.
Considering that workers spend up to 20% of their time sorting through files and cabinets when searching for documents, adopting an online DMS can be a huge help to workflow and operations.
This system can be helpful for businesses of all sizes as it provides a way to store and keep track of important files in one place. Additionally, it can help reduce the amount of paper used by the business.
How does a DMS help?
Let’s take a look at some of the essential document management features to get an idea of what it looks like practically.
Main features to look for in a document management system
When looking for a DMS, there are some key features you should look out for. These include:
- Creating documents: A good DMS will allow you to create new documents from scratch or edit existing ones.
- Document viewing: You should be able to view your documents in various ways, including thumbnails, lists, or in full-screen mode.
- Document editing: You should be able to edit your documents easily, whether you are working with text, images, or both.
- Document printing: You should print your documents quickly and easily.
- Document security: Your documents should be secure so that only authorized users can view them or make changes.
- Searching: You should easily search for specific documents based on keywords or other criteria.
- Importing and exporting: You should import documents from various sources and export them to different formats as needed.
A DMS can also help with most steps of your document management lifecycle system.
Industries that need a DMS
This can be particularly useful in the following industries that usually have heavy document regulation and compliance:
- Insurance: To comply with regulations, many insurance companies use a DMS to store and manage different types of documents.
- Law: Lawyers require a DMS to manage client files, document discovery, and more.
- Healthcare: Healthcare providers use DMSs to manage patient records, prescriptions, and more. Which can then be automatically deleted after a certain number of days to comply with HIPAA. For more information on this, see our guide to healthcare document management best practices.
- Government: Many government agencies use a DMS to manage different documents.
- Manufacturing: To track and manage work orders and other documents, many manufacturers use a DMS.
- Education: Schools use DMSs to store student records, grades, transcripts, and more.
- Non-profit: Non-profits often use a DMS to manage donor information, contact lists, and more.
Most common document templates for a DMS
Now, every industry is different and uses different documents and templates.
But the most common document templates for automated PDF generation you’ll come across include:
- Invoices and bills.
- Cash receipts.
- Financial statements.
- Medical test results and reports.
- Patient information and records.
- Confirmation letters.
- Request forms.
- Price quotes.
- And more.
Now, another thing you should keep in mind here, before we talk about the benefits, is the type of document management systems you’ll come across.
3 Main types of document management systems
Depending on your needs, there are a few different types of DMSs that you can choose from. These include:
A cloud-based DMS is hosted online, which means that you can access it from any computer or device with an internet connection.
This type of DMS is ideal for businesses that want to access their files from anywhere.
- You can access your files from anywhere with an internet connection.
- The DMS is hosted online, so you don’t have to worry about installing any software or maintaining any hardware.
- The DMS is subscription-based, so you only pay for the features you need.
- If you don’t have an internet connection, you can’t access your files.
- You are dependent on the provider to maintain the system and keep it up-to-date.
An on-premises DMS is installed on your computer or server, which means you are responsible for managing and maintaining it.
This type of DMS is ideal for businesses that want more control over their documents.
- You control your documents, and you can access them whenever you want.
- The DMS is installed on your computer or server, so you don’t have to worry about maintaining any hardware.
- You are responsible for managing and maintaining the system.
- If something goes wrong with the system, you are the one who has to fix it.
- You need to have sufficient IT staff to manage and maintain the system.
A hybrid DMS is a mix of cloud-based and on-premises, which means that you can access some files online and others offline. This type of DMS is ideal for businesses that want the best of both worlds.
Generally speaking, we recommend switching from physical documents to an electronic document management system.