What is a Document management system? A document management system or software (DMS) is a mechanism that helps to store, secure and control access to different types of documents. A document management system can also be defined as a software application using which an organization can play around with the storage of its business information.
You are looking to find a product which will help you with your document management. You want something that is convenient, efficient and effective? You read the description of dozens of programs, but not all software you find is appropriate for your particular needs. And it is confusing. There are many details to consider.
The growth of data has made document management a top priority for many organizations. With the advent of information technology, the business world is rapidly changing. Nowadays, everything is going digital. Information can be stored in a wide range of storage devices and documents can be easily misplaced or even destroyed.
Document Management is as important to business productivity today as an engine is to a car. It is the driving force behind business communication and operations. A good document management tool makes sure you always have access to your most important files whenever and wherever you need them. When choosing a document management platform for your business, the options can be overwhelming with so many features and variables that it can seem impossible to know how to choose which one is right for you. This guide aims to break down the pros and cons of ten of the best doc management tools on the market to help you find the right one for your company.
What Is a Document Management System?
Document management system (DMS) is a system used to create, store, manage, and track electronic documents and images of paper-based documents through software. DMS started as a way to convert paper documents into digital documents. Hence, DMS is sometimes referred to as an electronic filing cabinet.
A DMS can have a significant impact on the way your business runs. It gives you more time to focus on the pressing areas of your business as it makes capturing, digitizing, and tagging documents quick and easy. A good DMS provides valuable benefits along with automated document management, such as increased security, collaboration, and automated regulatory compliance.
- Free for 30-days
- Customized pricing
- Industry-specific solutions
- AI technology
When you upload content to M-Files, the platform automatically organizes the data based on what it is, as opposed to just where you want to store it.
Protect your information by connecting your existing network to M-Files’ AI, automatically and securely.
Another top benefit of M-Files is that they offer industry-specific solutions. Some popular industries that they service include:
- Financial services
- Construction and engineering
- Oil and gas
- Real estate
- Professional services
M-Files is great for larger teams that need to access documents at different times. If someone on your staff needs a file that was uploaded and saved by another colleague, they won’t need to search through different folders to see what the document was saved as.
With AI technology, all you need to know is what type of document you’re looking for. Then you can organize the content based on criteria like project title, author, customer, or expiration date.
It automatically detects duplicate content and updates the latest document to one singular file. This way you always know that you’re viewing or working with the latest version.
With M-Files, you can store a wide range of document types, including emails. The software also allows you to collaborate with external users who don’t have M-Files. That content can be shared as a secure link.
M-Files offers cloud storage, on-site storage, and hybrid storage solutions as well.
You can try M-Files free for 30 days but pricing for M-Files is not listed on their website. You need to contact their sales team to inquire about a custom solution.
- Try for free
- Customized pricing
- Enterprise solutions
- All-in-One document management
Templafy is a relatively new DMS. After launching in 2014, they have been providing all-in-one document management solutions for enterprises all over the world.
It’s designed for large businesses and helps streamline tasks to save time when it comes to storing and accessing files.
More than 300 enterprises across 80+ countries use Templafy for document management. This translates to more than one million users.
Using intelligence software, Templafy will automatically show the most relevant content to each employee based on their usage and position.
That means your marketing team doesn’t need to see documents only relevant to accounting, and so on.
Templafy eliminates of having to create new document on a new platform by giving users the ability to create and edit new content directly within the system.
Both new and uploaded content can all be managed in a simple and singular feed on your dashboard.
Templafy’s cloud storage software means you can access documents from anywhere, including on your smartphones and tablets.
You can integrate Templafy with Microsoft Office 365, G-Suite, and other platforms that you’re using to run your business on a daily basis. You can even integrate Templafy with CRM solutions like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.
Big brands like Pandora and IKEA trust Templafy to manage their documents with enterprise-grade software.
In addition to managing documents and files, Templafy has solutions for maximizing employee productivity and creating an evergreen IT infrastructure.
Security is another top benefit of using Templafy. You and your team can securely store and access content from anywhere, using any device, whether you’re online or not.
Like most enterprise software, Templafy provides custom solutions for each unique company. So they don’t list any prices online. You can try Templafy for free before you commit to a contract by reaching out to their sales team.
- Starting at $15 per month
- Integrates with many third-party services
- File share & collaboration tools
- Access files from anywhere
eFileCabinet is one of the best document management solutions on the market. They help individuals, small business owners, and enterprise-level companies organize data and files online.
Their solution helps you remain organized no matter how many documents and files you have.
You can search for documents or locate them based on folder templates or pre-defined file names. eFileCabinet also keeps a portfolio of your most used documents for quick access.
The eFileCabinet solution does the hard work for you. Simply upload a document, and the software will file it. The automated workflow streamlines your time-consuming tasks to improve efficiency in the office.
All of your documents can be accessed from anywhere with a web browser or mobile app. Use your phone or mobile device to upload directly too. eFileCabinet also allows you to sign contracts.
One of the biggest standouts for this solution is the collaboration features. The system allows you to create different levels of security, so only certain people can access data.
eFileCabinet has encrypted file sharing and requests, two-factor authentication, and role-based permissions. You can even set IP or location-based authentication.
The software integrates with popular third-party services like DocuSign, Salesforce, and Microsoft Office.
Here’s an overview of the plans and price points for eFileCabinet:
- Starter — Starting at $15 per month (25 GB of storage)
- Advantage — Starting at $55 per month (1 TB of storage)
- Business — Starting at $99 per month (5 TB of storage)
- Unlimited — Starting at $199 per month (Unlimited storage)
All prices are listed per user and billed on an annual basis. Once you upgrade from the Starter plan to Advantage, you’ll need to pay for a minimum of three users.
I’d only recommend the Starter plan to individuals. Sole proprietors or very small businesses can probably get away with the Advantage plan, but the Business package will likely be the best for the majority of you.
With eFileCabinet, you get to choose if you want your storage either on-site or on the cloud. Personally, I prefer the cloud storage. But there are advantages to on-premises as well. Click here to learn more and sign up at eFileCabinet today.
- Free 7-day trial
- Starts at only $8/month
- Unlimited templates
- Industry-specific solutions
signNow is an intuitive document signing and management software loved by users for its ease of use and low price point.
signNow is a no-frills solution for affordable document signing services. In terms of features, it stacks up well with big names in the industry, offering unlimited templates, many integrations, cloud storage even on the lowest paid tier, multiple language support, audit trail, reminders, and more.
Unlike e-sign big names like DocuSign and HelloSign, one handy feature signNow offers is a unique direct signing link. When you upload a document for signing, you do not have to let the provider send a third-party email to your client requesting a signature.
Instead, signNow gives you a direct link you can email or text to your client so that the request comes right from you.
Another point for signNow goes to its mobile app. Document recipients can sign important papers without signing up for an account from desktop, phone, or tablet devices.
You can purchase a solution suited specifically for your industry, including but not limited to:
- Financial Services
- Real Estate
signNow users can also set up no-code workflow automation for all document processes. You can assign roles, add conditional routing, set notifications, and integrate with the business tools you already use. Plus, it is very secure, complying with ESIGN authentication and protection, operating according to SOC 2 Type II certification, guaranteeing compliance with industry standards.
signNow has four subscription plans:
- Business: $8 per user per month
- Business Premium: $15 per user per month, includes workflow automation
- Enterprise: $30 per user per month, includes payment requests, attachments, and more
- airSlate Business Cloud: $50 per user per month (5 user minimum), includes a suite of tools and more compliance and support
Even the Business Premium pricing is about what many other DMS software charges for their lowest plans. And you can save up to 60% by paying annually instead of monthly. To get started, try signNow’s 7-day free trial and start sending documents now.
- Limited free forever plan
- Paid plans start at $12/month
- Track file delivery & downloads
- Send large files securely
Hightail is a document management solution with a specific purpose: sharing and collaboration.
Other DMS on the market have features for file sharing as well, but Hightail takes this to the next level.
If you need to send large files securely, this service is going to work well.
Secure sharing is simple. Just drag or upload a file from your device or cloud storage solution into your Hightail account. Enter the information for who you want to share it with, and automatically send an email notification to the recipient.
Share a video presentation with the team, and their get their feedback immediately.
With Hightail, you’ll be able to track the delivery and downloads of content you shared. So you know exactly who opened it and when.
Hightail lets you send files of up to 500 GB. You can add password protection to files and set expiration dates as well.
Here’s an overview of the plans and pricing for Hightail:
Lite — Free
- 100 MB file send limit
- 7 day file expiration
- Comments for feedback enabled
- Sync from third-party integrations
Pro — $12 per month per user
- 25 GB file send limit
- Configurable file expiration
- File previews enabled
- Send tracking and delivery notifications
- Password protection
- Phone and live chat support
Teams — $24 per month per user
- 50 GB file send limit
- Custom branding
- Organization and archiving tools
- Version control with side by side comparisons
- Real-time discussions for collaboration
- Members management
Business — $36 per user
- 500 GB file send limit
- Enterprise-grade security
- Dedicated customer support team
- Organizational level permissions
- Admin reports
As you can see, the pricing is largely based on the file sending limits. But the features get significantly better with each plan as well.
The free option is actually pretty good if you don’t need to send huge files, and even the entry-level Pro plan is suitable for a number of individuals.
If you’re interested in a paid plan, you can try Hightail free for 14 days.
- Custom enterprise pricing
- Security is their top priority
- Large free learning center
- Track changes and revisions
MasterControl is a DMS made for businesses where security is a top priority and concern. Certain industries have strict regulations for companies to comply with.
MasterControl understands those compliance concerns and created a document management solution that meets any security requirements.
They give you the ability to track changes and revisions. This is incredibly helpful—especially if a document needs to be reviewed by a particular person. You can schedule a time and send out reminders as well.
MasterControl can also limit revisions based on access. You have complete control over who can make changes to a document.
You can also create custom watermarks, sequential numbering, and location tracking to control copies of your files.
MasterControl is 21 CFR Part 11 compliant. This means that documents have a time-stamped audit trail, as well as e-sign functionality that complies with federal regulations.
Another unique standout of MasterControl is its learning center. You’ll have access to tons of free videos, documents, and other resources to educate you about the platform and security compliance in general.
If you need enterprise-grade security for document management in a strict industry, MasterControl will be a top option for you to consider. Contact their sales team for a custom quote.
- Customized pricing
- HIPPA compliant solutions
- E-signature capability
- Completely customized services
PaperTracer has solutions for small, medium, and enterprise-level businesses. It’s a simple solution for document management.
With PaperTracer, you’ll have the ability to automate your contracts and digitize all of your documents in a centralized database. PaperTracer has tracking and reporting capabilities and HIPPA compliant solutions as well.
You can also benefit from a cloud-based implementation with end-to-end workflow solutions. This will help you with your document management no matter where you are in the process.
E-signature capability is also available with PaperTracer. In fact, that’s what makes them so popular with legal and healthcare businesses.
Here’s a brief overview of the available plans, although all pricing is customized.
- Up to 10 users
- Electronic signing
- Searchable database
- Upload and scan to PDF
- Advanced reports and dashboards
- Input forms
- Up to 100 users
- Contract authorizing
- Custom fields
- Custom workflows
- Unlimited users
- Unlimited input forms
- Single sign-on
Demos and free trials are available for all three plans. I’d recommend PaperTracer for small and medium-sized businesses. While they do have an enterprise-grade solution, there are better options for that on our list.
- Try it for free
- Customized pricing
- Cloud-based solution
- Used by 12,000+ businesses
DocuWare stands out because it has specific solutions for tasks within your business processes:
- Document management
- Invoice processing
- Employee management
DocuWare has everything you need for digital transformation and going paperless using cloud technology.
As such, I highly recommend them for larger, enterprise businesses.
DocuWare allows you and your staff to edit or annotate documents directly on the platform. Not every DMS on our list gives you this capability.
I like DocuWare because it has features designed to connect remote employees and your deskless workforce. Anyone can easily access content at home or on the go from any device.
More than 12,000 businesses in 90+ countries trust DocuWare for document management. So you know that the company is legitimate with a track record like that.
It has specific use cases for things like contract proposals, finance processes, and HR tasks as well.
The pricing for DocuWare follows a common theme in this guide. They offer a free trial, but you need to contact their customer support team directly for a custom quote.
Key Must-Have Features of Document Management Software
While each business needs to manage its documents differently, there are key features that every document management system should have.
1. Security features such as customizable access restrictions
With any DMS, the ability to customize access permissions is an integral part of protecting your data. By controlling access, you also have a wider range of options in the way you collaborate and use your DMS. You can set unique permissions for different individuals, departments, teams, and even vendor or customer access to particular files.
Without this flexibility, your DMS is much more limited and may not have much value beyond some small business use cases. Yet, businesses of every size and industry can leverage access permissions. That’s why the access restriction functionality is a must-have for any DMS.
2. Ability to store various file types
Businesses use a variety of different files, so document management systems need to have the flexibility to accommodate various types of files in storage. If your DMS only supports a small number of file types, you might need more than one DMS, potentially creating more work for your team and duplicating your business information systems. Generally, the more a single system can do, the better — you can put that flexibility to streamline your business processes.
3. Search functions for quick location and access to important files
Your DMS is intended to improve your use and access to documents. Without the ability to search your files, you may not be able to access the important documents you need. Different document management systems offer different search options. The DMS you choose may depend on which search options are the most beneficial for your specific use case.
4. Document history for auditing and tracking
By tracking your document changes and auditing them, you can manage your documents more effectively and ensure that only authorized changes are made to your files. This helps with compliance for documents as your internal or regulatory rules require you to audit carefully. Hence, a DMS that includes auditing and tracking features is essential.
5. Version control for documents and backup storage
Your DMS should provide you with a paper trail through tracked changes, allowing you to revert to previous versions and see at-a-glance who has made adjustments to these files over time. In the event of data loss or significant disruption, a backup copy should be available.
6. Ease of use
Finally, your DMS must be easy enough to consistently rely on it and train your team to use it. If your system is too complex, you run the risk of the DMS failing to be fully adopted by your organization.
Document management software is a document management system (DMS) that helps you manage your documents and works on multiple levels. It facilitates the process of document creation, collaboration, retrieval and distribution.
Document management is an aspect of corporate life that is gaining popularity with every new year that passes by. It refers to the process of handling and organizing documents, in such a way that they can be easily accessed and retrieved whenever necessary. Many businesses today have incorporated document management tools in their day-to-day activities, increasing its value tremendously.