Product Guides

What Is A Document Management System (DMS)? What You Need To Know

July 22, 2022

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.
  • Agreements.
  • Claims.
  • 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:

Cloud-based DMS

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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

On-premises DMS

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.

Pros:

  • 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.

Cons:

  • 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.

Hybrid DMS

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.

Out-of-the-box PDF generation
The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
By submitting this form, I confirm that I have read and understood Inkit's Privacy Policy.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

7 Biggest Benefits Of Using A DMS For Your Business

Using a DMS has several benefits, including:

Increased productivity

A DMS can help you to be more productive by automating the process of creating and managing documents. This means that you can spend less time on paperwork and more time on your business.

This also helps streamline your business operations.

According to Frevvo, 85% of business leaders believe that automating their workload will give them and their employees more time to focus on goals that truly matter to the company.

graphic representing the time and cost saving percentages of using DMS

Improved security

A DMS can help to improve security by protecting your documents from being lost or stolen. It can also help to protect your confidential information by ensuring that it is stored in a secure location.

See our guide on data security standards for more info and best practices when it comes to securing your sensitive data.

Reduced costs

A DMS can help to reduce costs by automating the process of creating and automating documents

This means that you can save time and money by not having to hire someone to do this job for you.

Improved accuracy

A DMS can help to improve accuracy by ensuring that your documents are typo-free and consistent.

This means that you will be less likely to make mistakes when submitting or processing documents.

Optimization of business processes

A DMS can help to optimize your business processes by automating the process of creating and managing documents. 

This means that you will streamline your business processes and improve efficiency.

Switching to a paperless office

A DMS can help you achieve a paperless office by automating, creating, and managing documents. This means that you can reduce your environmental impact by not consuming as much paper.

An online document management system is at the core of making a paperless office possible.

Efficiency

A DMS can help you to be more efficient by automating the process of creating and managing documents. This means that you can save time and money by not having to hire someone to do this job for you.

How To Choose The Right Document Management System

When choosing a DMS, you need to consider the following factors:

1. The size of your business

The size of your business will determine the type of DMS you need. A small business will likely need a cloud-based DMS, while a larger firm will likely need an on-premises DMS.

2. The type of documents you need to manage

The type of documents you need to manage will determine the DMS you need. If you need to manage many files, you will need a cloud-based DMS. If you need to manage a small number of files, you will likely need an on-premises DMS.

Another thing you should consider here is your industry.

As mentioned above, a DMS can help certain industries more than others.

But the same time, you can modify the system based on your company and type of documents. For example, see our guide on document management for finance startups.

3. The level of security You need

The level of security you need will determine the type of DMS you need. If you need a high level of protection, you will need an on-premises DMS. If you don’t need a high level of security, you will likely need a cloud-based DMS.

4. The level of automation you need

The level of automation you need will determine the type of DMS you need. If you need a high level of automation, you will need a cloud-based DMS. If you don’t need a high level of automation, you will likely need an on-premises DMS.

5. The cost

The cost will determine the type of DMS that you need. You will likely need a cloud-based DMS if you are on a tight budget. You will likely need an on-premises DMS if you have more money to spend.

Typically, DMS tools are priced based on how many papers or documents you’ll be managing. But it depends on the specific software.

See our guide on how to evaluate a document management solution for more info.

6. Industry regulations

Industry regulations will determine the type of DMS that you need. If you need to comply with industry regulations, you will likely need an on-premises DMS. If you don’t need to comply with industry regulations, you will likely need a cloud-based DMS.

7. The size and quantity of your documents

The size of your documents will determine the type of DMS you need. If your documents are large, you will need a cloud-based DMS. If your documents are small, you will likely need an on-premises DMS.

Anything you should look for in a DMS?

Check out our guide for the 8 essential elements of a document management service.

Where To Go From Here

Hopefully, this guide was helpful and you have a better idea of what a DMS is and how it works.

As useful as a DMS is, choosing and implementing one inside your business isn’t an overnight journey.

Especially when you’re deciding on a specific system for your business. 

You have to take into consideration your requirements, specific features, if the DMS was designed for your industry specifically, and so on.

So, on that note, to help narrow down your search, be sure to check out our detailed guide on 7+ questions when evaluating document generation software.

Out-of-the-box PDF generation
The easiest way to automatically generate and manage paperless documents at scale.
By submitting this form, I confirm that I have read and understood Inkit's Privacy Policy.
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.