Document Management Software
Knowing how to manage your documents is vital in today’s digital age.
Having an effective storage system is more than just using a named filing system. Instead, it is about creating a way of seamlessly backing up your work or making them accessible to clients or co-workers.
In 2020, businesses transformed how they worked. Software solutions such as Microsoft 365 launched new ways of collaborative working and made it easier to access files securely from almost any device, anywhere in the world.
This article will answer what document management software solutions are and how they differ from basic file management systems.
What Is Document Management Software?
Document management software (DMS software) is a valuable tool that allows you to organize all of your files and folders digitally.
Today’s office environment has moved away from the humble filing cabinet. In its place should be a digital filing system that is robust and secure, seamlessly integrating with the Cloud to give you peace of mind that all of your documents are properly backed up.
Firms may choose to invest in a DMS in a bid to be more eco-friendly. After all, the fewer paper documents used, the fewers trees have to be cut down.
If you work across multiple locations, then a DMS is an efficient way of ensuring that you can continually access your files and folders regardless of where you are working from.
You can incorporate full project management capabilities and ensure that everyone is working as effectively as they should be.
These systems are also highly secure. A capable IT manager can quickly restrict access to confidential files and documents to those on a 'need to know' basis.
They can also ensure that everything is password protected and covered by multi-factor authentication, giving further protection against malicious intent.
In addition, a DMS can prove invaluable if your office is hit by a physical disaster – if everything is held securely in the Cloud, your business can still have immediate access to all of your data.
What Are the Benefits of Using Document Control Software?
As just mentioned, the security element is a huge advantage for businesses.
It can be a crucial element for any compliance processes and shows demonstrable evidence to others that you are protecting your corporate data.
Another advantage of electronic document management systems is that you can reduce your office costs.
For example, firms with years of experience tend to accumulate historical paperwork. This paperwork may need to be kept for your audit records, but the bulky filing systems and storage rooms can add thousands of dollars to your rental costs.
Therefore, it stands to reason that a DMS could reduce your storage costs dramatically.
They can also be much quicker to retrieve the documents that you need, increasing productivity.
This is because you can use an intuitive filing system and search operations that help you recover critical documents at the touch of a button, rather than physically searching through piles of paperwork.
In addition, this search function makes collaborative working far more effective amongst staff members who can seamlessly share and edit documents.
How Does Document Management Software Work?
A document management system is a combination of an electronic filing cabinet and a project management tool. It stores and tracks all documents and holds them securely in the Cloud while also facilitating collaborative working.
It is a crucial element of any digital transformation of businesses across any sector or size.
First, you capture your document from any source – this could be printed files, invoices, emails or even your internal applications.
Then, within your document capture, you use tools such as metadata or indexing to add tags to accurately describe the content within that document (such as order numbers or customer numbers).
This allows you to conduct effective searches to find the documents that you need.
Once you have your document, you need a centralized storage system to store your digital papers.
For example, you may need central access to specific files that enable anyone within your organization to retrieve them, or you may wish to implement stringent security settings on confidential paperwork.
Your security will not only track what documents are being opened (and by whom), but they can also track any amendments.
Finally, you need a document retrieval system that allows you to find the documents quickly.
If you have indexed each document correctly during the document capture stage, it should be easy to immediately find what you are looking for through an effective search.
Once you have found what you are looking for, you can share it with others via FTP (file transfer protocol) settings, through email or automation.
For example, many finance teams benefit from document management software solutions because they automatically track whether invoices have been paid or outstanding payments due.
What to Look For When Choosing Document Management Software
There are hundreds of document management software solutions available on the market. Each has different features and different pricing structures.
Before choosing the best document management software system, you should speak to your business development team and your IT and HR departments to ensure that you invest in a system that gives you the foundations for longevity.
Ask yourself whether the DMS you are considering has the following:
Can it adapt and change with different departmental needs? Can it change with your business needs or have the scope to scale up/down as and when required? How can your teams use the project management tools and work plans to improve productivity?
Is it simple for people of different technical capabilities to use? How easy is the system to manage? How much training is needed for individuals to get the most out of the system?
How much proactive management is needed to ensure it is equipped with the latest security updates? Are updates automated? Can they be overridden? What do you need to do to ensure that your data is as secure as possible?
What recovery and backup options are available? Can you simulate disaster recovery drills to practice retrieving your data in the event of a disaster?
What platforms does it integrate with? Does it work with your internal systems and software? Does it integrate with third-party apps that your staff may extensively use? Does it include automation within the software?
Can you easily transfer files between different people? Is it easy to change the security settings of individuals as they change jobs or responsibilities?
If you have issues with your system, how easy is the support and customer service from the service provider?
The 10 Best Document Management Software Solutions in 2021
To help you get an idea of the different options available, here are 10 of the best document management software solutions listed in alphabetical order.
Price: Free for less than 10 users
Confluence is designed for businesses with fewer than 10 users.
It has up to 2 GB of storage and includes archiving/retention, brainstorming, calendar management and document generation.
It is a good tool for collaborative working, but the search functionality could be better.
Although there is a free option available, the possibilities are limited. Therefore, businesses may find that they are better suited to the Standard or Premium options.
Price: $1,200 one-off or $500 per year
Digital Drawer is a popular option for medium-sized businesses.
As well as a cloud-based storage option, users can also benefit from an on-premises storage option for exceptional security.
It is easy to use, and files can be organized in a logical filing system.
In addition, with a complete audit trail, you can easily see who is amending which documents, and everything is encrypted to the highest possible standards.
The search functionality is quick and easy to use, and you can capture multiple documents simultaneously, thereby streamlining your productivity.
Price: £10 per user per month
Dropbox is one of the best-known DMS systems. It allows seamless storage of both multimedia and traditional documentation.
You can easily edit documents while working online, and it is widely integrated with more than three million third-party apps.
In addition, the OCR technology that allows scanning of images to convert images to text quickly is very useful.
This is an intuitive piece of kit. It works efficiently across desktops and Apple and Android devices, and it offers exceptional security features.
One key feature is the ability to remotely delete confidential documents from a device – ideal if you have a member of staff who loses a phone or tablet.
Price: £10.99 per user per month
Evernote is a big name when it comes to business administration. The Evernote Scannable app is rated as an excellent mobile scanning app.
As you would expect, this is a highly effective option that allows you to create and share documents with co-workers.
It is designed and developed to help you work as productively as possible, and it integrates well with a wide range of third-party apps.
The search functionality is excellent – as well as being able to search typed fonts, it can also search through handwritten notes.
This could be a beneficial feature if you have lots of scribbled notes that you need to keep hold of.
It works great for small file sizes, but the relatively slow upload speed could be an issue if you are trying to use large file sizes (such as creative businesses).
Price: $24 per user per month
This is an ideal option for creative industries that require large amounts of storage.
With Hightail, you can easily upload and share videos, presentations and images – all of which are large file sizes. It also offers a streaming option for users, which speeds up the process as they do not have to rely on lengthy downloads.
And it allows users to easily compare versions of the same document – a helpful feature for those looking to work collaboratively.
We like the ‘view send’ feature, which allows you to see if the recipient has received a document, and we appreciate the way it is been developed with user needs in mind. It is intuitive and easy to use.
However, improvements could be made to improve the document retrieval element of the software. Unlike other options, it is not that easy to find specific documents.
Price: Pricing on request
If you want to integrate automation into your business, then M-Files could be a good solution.
The system uses its algorithm to automatically organize your files based upon what the file is.
It can seamlessly connect to your existing network, making your working style quick and easy. There are also specific versions designed for various professions, including financial services, manufacturing and construction.
There is automation which detects duplications; this means that you will always be working from the most recent file available.
It also has highly effective security solutions, with a mix of cloud-based hosting and on-premises servers.
Price: £3.80 per user per month
As you would expect from Microsoft, SharePoint gives you everything you need to collaborate with teams and store your files safely and securely.
It integrates perfectly with Microsoft 365 (as you would expect).
The data capture element allows you to organize your files in the way that you need. Thanks to exceptional metadata fields, you can benefit from a collaborative storage solution that is built to last.
It can scale up and down with your business needs, and the flexibility of the solution is why businesses recommend SharePoint as one of the best document management software solutions.
However, it may require investment into detailed training with so many features available to ensure that everyone is using it as effectively as possible.
Price: Available on request
This is an exceptional document management system for remote workers.
The low cost makes it an affordable option for many businesses, and it is widely used by industries such as accounting, HR, legal and insurance.
Features include e-signatures, compliance tracking, workflow planning, search and secure sharing solutions.
Rubex is a software solution that puts security at its forefront. With secure multi-layers, you can feel confident that your data is held securely, with complete encryption complying with the strictest measures.
It integrates with MS Office, Salesforce, QuickBooks and Sage, making it ideal for various sectors. Furthermore, it features a complete audit log that monitors all user activity.
Price: £19 per user per month
Smartsheet is a good choice for large enterprises. It is not just a file-sharing system – it is designed with complete project management in mind.
You can create effective workflows and schedule reminders and deadlines for individuals, helping to keep everyone on track.
It uses AWS software, so it is highly intuitive and features automation to streamline workflows as much as possible.
It easily integrates with MS Office and Google Docs, and users can work on the same document simultaneously, with full audit tracking.
However, with an array of features available, you may need to invest in training to ensure that all users are using it as effectively as possible.
10. Zoho Docs
Price: £5.60 per user per month
This is a great option for those looking to work collaboratively. It allows easy group sharing options, and multiple people can work on documents at the same time.
The swift configuration with email systems enables users to upload documents through email, and you can have unlimited folders and subfolders to organize your work.
It also includes scheduled reminders and automatically encrypts files, giving you peace of mind for security.
Finally, it enables complete branding in line with your corporate identity, making the system feel a natural extension of your internal software.
This is a viable option for small businesses and independent firms, as it offers free access to companies with less than five users.
It is clear that document management software is vital to those wishing to undertake a digital transformation.
These electronic document management systems can help you manage your documents safely while also providing you with a collaborative tool to increase efficiencies.
With many different options and features available, it is clear that you should undertake due diligence before making a final decision to ensure that you are choosing an option that works with your business.
Make the most of free demo trials – you may be surprised to learn that you find some DMS solutions more intuitive than others.
Pay close attention to what features you think you need now and what you anticipate that you may need in the future. Ideally, you will be using a DMS system that grows with your business and has the flexibility to change with you as your business adapts.