What is document management software?

Document management software is a tool that allows for capturing, tracking, storing, retrieving, and sharing electronic documents such as PDFs, word files, and scanned images of paper files. It helps organizations save time and money by streamlining document organization. Additionally, it secures document access, provides centralized storage, and optimizes search and retrieval. By digitizing paper files, document management software eliminates manual practices used for handling paperwork, like printing and organizing files in large storage rooms. This offers businesses increased efficiency, usually at a lower cost. Document management solutions can be simple standalone products or comprehensive platforms with enhanced capabilities for information governance and records management for large enterprises.

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How does document management software work?

Document management software solutions automate the process of capturing, organizing, and securing business files. Providing more than data storage, a document management system also allows users to share, search, retrieve, and digitize documents. Moreover, most solutions have versioning, metadata, collaboration, and indexing features. Users can create, edit, and manage corporate files with document management software. These documents include:
  • Word processing files
  • PDFs
  • Scanned images of paper-based files
  • Emails
  • Financial reports
  • Videos
  • Audio recordings
  • Spreadsheets
Document management solutions centralize these files, making them accessible to everyone in the organization based on user roles and permissions. Authorized users can access the documents from anywhere, anytime. Document management software serves as a single source of truth for all the organization’s files and data. It bridges disparate repositories and systems into a central hub. These solutions preserve confidentiality across companies, their clients, and their stakeholders.

Document management software benefits

Document management software can inherently benefit and improve business operations in various ways.

Stronger security

One of the most important benefits of document management software is its added security. It safeguards critical business files from wear and tear that can damage physical files. In addition, by allowing organizations to digitize their documents, the software protects sensitive information from unauthorized access. Most document management solutions come with built-in security features that enable users to set access and permission rules and monitor document editing, viewing, and sharing.

Increased storage space

Unlike physical document storage, such as filing cabinets and storage rooms, document management software can provide more flexible storage space. It’s easier to add more storage or remove unnecessary files using this software than it is with physical file storage.

Improved efficiency

Furthermore, the software’s search features eliminate the time-consuming task of manually rummaging through thousands of documents. Document management software reduces the time and effort it takes to search for and retrieve the correct documents using indexing capabilities. This means employees have more time to focus on other critical tasks.

Enhanced collaboration

Colleagues can share information and collaborate as the software allows users to access documents from multiple locations. Team members can distribute documents, co-author files, and work together in real time.

Document management software types

Document management software can be classified into two categories: cloud-based and self-hosted.


Cloud-based document management software stores files in a cloud system that’s hosted by a third-party provider. Businesses maintain control over who is able to access what files and how. Cloud service providers typically handle software maintenance and upgrades. This is a better option for businesses with small teams and limited resources.


With self-hosted document management, all business documents are stored on the company’s servers and accessed remotely by authorized users on the business’s network. This gives organizations complete control over their data and ensures data privacy. However, the business is limited by the space and capacity that the physical server will allow. Many self-hosted document management solutions offer user audits for integrity, and most updates are usually handled in-house. This option is best for companies that need strong security controls and have the support and resources to manage those efforts.

Basic document management software features

Some of the essential features an ideal document management software must have include storage, search, versioning, security, and sharing.

Document storage

First and foremost, the most basic function of document management software is storing the company’s documents while providing authorized users with hassle-free access. Effective document storage enables businesses to organize documents and simplifies the search and backup of electronic files in accordance with company policies. Document storage frees up the physical workspace and saves money spent on physical storage maintenance costs.

Document search

Searching allows users to find specific documents in the system through a range of attributes, such as file titles and tags. Numerous document management solutions have metadata search capabilities, too. Metadata is the non-visible information attached to a text-based document that gives additional context. Document metadata speeds up search and data retrieval.


Also known as version management, versioning lets organizations manage multiple versions of a document. The software checks in and checks out a file and grants users access to its current and previous copies to track edits made. It updates changes in real-time and enables users to revert documents to earlier versions.


Documents can contain sensitive information, which is why it is crucial for organizations to guarantee document security. Businesses of any size should make sure that files are always safe from unauthorized access or theft. Reliable document management solutions deliver high-level encryption and role-based access for security. Comprehensive systems also offer protection from advanced threats like ransomware. Document security is imperative if the business wants to remain compliant with industry regulations, especially for enterprises following strict rules to keep sensitive documents private, such as healthcare organizations.

Collaboration and sharing

Document management solutions should promote collaboration by facilitating file sharing. It should also let users rate documents. Some document management systems have features that give external collaborators limited access to view, add, and update content. These users can only view documents that are relevant to them.

Business impact of document management software

Document management software is vital for every business because it increases efficiency, enhances security, ensures regulatory compliance, and minimizes overall expenses from storage costs. Manual document management can risk delays, human errors, and frustration for employees who need to sort through tons of files to find the right document. What’s more, keeping documents in physical storage facilities can be risky. Unforeseen disasters and accidents can permanently damage important files. Document management solutions can help organizations avoid all these issues and keep valuable files safe and secure. Explore Top Document Management Systems on Project-Management.com.