An introduction to Document Management
What is Document Management?
Document Management refers to the processes that you and your organisation use to store and retrieve documents, including emails. Whilst documents can be physical or electronic this article will focus on electronic documents only.
What is a Document Management System?
A Document Management System refers to a software package that you and your organisation use to assist with the storage and retrieval of your electronic documents.
The Windows file system is an example of a document management system. All other document management systems can be compared to the Windows file system and all attempt to address some limitation within the Windows file system.
The following is a list of broad features or requirements that document management systems look to address.
- Store Documents of Any Type – the ability to sort documents into your organisations predefined labeling, coding or filing system; integrate with tools such as Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook to make it easy to save documents to the Document Management System
- Unique Document Identifier – provide documents with a unique identifier so that they can be easier to find; it is common for tools such as Microsoft Word to integrate with Document Management Systems and display the unique document identifier in the footer of the document
- Security (read/write/view) – allow a user to restrict who can read, write and view (see a document in a search results list) a document;
- Version Control – allow users to view the current or a previous version of a document;
- Audit – record and report on who edited and read documents;
- Searching/Browsing – allow the user to quickly find a document that they are looking for by using a combination of document properties (such as title, create date, author, type, category) and the content within the document.
- Compliance – ensure your business obligations regarding the storage and management of documents are met.
Comparing Document Management Systems
There are a large number of document management systems available on the market. The table below shows a comparison between the Windows File System and a product called M-Files.
M-Files is a Windows based document management system. With pricing at a very reasonable $550 per user, it is suitable for business with as few as 3 users. The product compares well with a market leading application such as iManage (FileSite, Desksite). iManage is designed for large organisations and its pricing means that it is only suitable for larger companies with at least 30 users.