A lot of people say that it’s not possible to find a good dms software. That is simply not true! In fact, you can find hundreds of solutions available for businesses. Some are user-friendly and affordable, others are enterprise-level solutions for a particular industry or business niche.
Document management is now one of the most critical components in any business. As such, it is no surprise that many companies are looking for the best documentation management software or dms. There are a number of options available out there to choose from – all with different prices and features. We thought it would be useful and interesting to see what others think about the top document management software and give you some insight into how you can get started.
Many small to midsize businesses (SMBs), such as legal firms, creative firms, or media and publishing organizations, aim to go paperless and are looking for the right tool to do so. Businesses generate a lot of data regardless, so choosing a reliable and scalable DM system is key to streamlining and automating workflows.
For SMBs, an efficient DM system can make for better overall performance for several reasons. The most basic reason is having a place to store and organize documents. Version control, workflows, access permissions, backup, and data protection can also be handled by a DM solution. It is the starting point for storing, securing, and sharing various business documents. The ability to classify data is another DM capability that can completely change the way your organization maps its workflows. With all that power, it’s no surprise that worldwide revenue projects for DM and enterprise content management (ECM) systems are steadily tracking up, as shown in the chart below from market research firm, Statista.
DOCUMENT MANAGEMENT SOFTWARE COSTS
Document management software can vary widely in pricing and cost structure. The first and perhaps most important factor in the cost of your document management system is whether you select a cloud-based or on-premises version.
Cloud-based software takes the infrastructure maintenance and burden of security off your business and places it with a third-party company. While this reduces the expense and challenge of managing it in-house, you’ll just have to trust that the company is handling your data properly. Cloud-based software is typically paid for on a subscription basis. For most document management software, this could range from $15 to $200 a month per user, depending on the complexity of the solution you choose.
On-premises versions of document management software require your own servers and, generally, a dedicated IT staff for maintenance. Your business is wholly responsible for the security of your data, but this also means you have full control over your own data. With on-premises solutions, you generally have to purchase a license for each user. Each license can cost $1,000 or more, but it is a one-time fee. However, on-premises solutions typically charge an additional fee for technical support and software updates after the first year, which is usually about 20% of the initial licensing cost.
For small businesses looking for software that is easy to manage and not a large overhead expense, we recommend a cloud-based solution. However, make sure your provider adheres to best cybersecurity practices to protect your data.
The actual price for document management software varies by company. Obviously, systems with more complex features tend to cost more, while costs for basic document management software without extra features (such as task management tools and workflow automation functions) can be pretty low. Also, the more users you add to a cloud-based system, the higher the monthly subscription price will be.
ECM Worldwide Revenue, 2017-2027 (Billions USD)
In addition to new efficiency, DM systems can also act as collaboration tools, ones that combine new ways of communicating with equal attention paid to legitimate regulatory needs. For starters, traditional file storage makes security difficult to manage and maintain. While there are certain capabilities available to set permissions on a file or folder, these permissions can be rapidly degraded or defeated entirely simply by moving files from one folder to another. Tracking changes to a document stored in a shared folder on a corporate server is nearly impossible for users, as is maintaining and evaluating an audit trail. Even in terms of collaboration, there are significant improvements to be had simply by transitioning away from the traditional corporate file share.
And let’s be clear: When we talk about DM in this review roundup, we’re focusing on DM systems that can offer enterprise-level file management, including routing, retention, and sometimes even support for paper file handling, including offsite storage and insurance. If you’re simply looking for online storage in the vein of Dropbox Business or Google Drive for Work, then you can read our reviews of those products in our best cloud storage and file sharing providers roundup.
Storage and Collaboration
Even at its most basic, a DM system should be able to store documents in a wide variety of file types, though you should check your organization’s requirements carefully in this regard and match those up against any potential system prior to purchasing. Even today, there are some proprietary file types, especially in custom-built line of business (LOB) applications, that not every DM system can support.
Aside from that, the DM system should also provide tools to organize these files and find those that meet certain user-defined criteria, with a minimal amount of effort or system resources. Most often, this will come in the form of a “smart search” feature; this is another key feature you should test during your evaluation phase. Capabilities such as tags and customizable key fields are important for finding files after their storage location has fallen from corporate memory. Some solutions, such as Microsoft SharePoint Online, provide features that will automatically classify or tag documents based on rules you configure. This not only improves reliability in the data behind your documents but also improves the odds that users can track down the documents they need.
Many of the DM systems we reviewed include some amount of online cloud storage, such as Adobe Document Cloud Standard, Ascensio System OnlyOffice, and Microsoft SharePoint Online. However, you shouldn’t look at this as a key buying criteria because storage is the easy part. For most organizations, this won’t be the most important factor when evaluating a DM system. Collaboration efforts, such as sharing documents, viewing changes (like in an organized revision history), or simultaneously working on a document with another user (available in both Ascensio System OnlyOffice and Microsoft SharePoint Online), are the kind of capabilities that will improve your teams’ efficiency.
Another common scenario is integrating your DM system with other business apps. Because they handle documents, which are often central to many business processes, DM systems can act as the lynchpin to other business processes by feeding their data and functionality into other apps. Web content can be created, edited, and processed in some of these systems, and then monitored or even published through a marketing automation system.
Another common scenario is integrating a front-end DM solution with a different or customized back-end, business file sharing and storage solution; examples include Egnyte or Microsoft OneDrive for Business. This might be done simply because other company data is located in that repository or because the dedicated service offers better security features, particularly around access control and file encryption.
If this might be important to you, then your evaluation phase will need to focus on any prebuilt integrations a prospective vendor offers as well as the utility of its application programming interface (API)—or whether it has one at all. As always, if you can try before you buy, then that’s the best way to go. Most of these vendors offer at least a 14-day free trial, while many offer a full 30 days. Some vendors even offer a free tier, though this is usually delivered with a low user count and limited features, which can defeat the purpose of evaluating the system.
Approvals, Sharing, and Signatures
There are scenarios in which a business will create a document just to have it. But, in most cases, documents are meant to be shared and usually shared often. Thus, a focus area for any DM system should be the tools it provides for handling such files. At a minimum, these capabilities exist to streamline this communication and improve returns, either from an efficiency or customer perspective. In some cases, these communication tools also support tracking communications and reporting on them over time; this is a feature that can be particularly critical for documents that have compliance or legal repercussions.
From a workflow perspective, being able to route specific types of documents to personnel who need to complete or approve them is a basic level of functionality. Rendering the document in an editable format that becomes final in a non-editable file type, such as PDF, is another good feature. Finally, e-signatures have become a more common requirement in many business scenarios, not just to finalize engagements with partners or customers but also to verify workflow between in-house staff. Some DM systems, such as Adobe Document Cloud Standard, have e-signature functionality built-in while others need to integrate that functionality from an outside source. Whatever the method, evaluating a DM system will often require you to nail down both implementation and functionality, so be sure to ask a sales representative about it during your product demo.
Collaboration features are important, too. Having a check-in and check-out option that locks access when a user has downloaded a file prevents editing overlap and could prove to be a sanity saver. Version history is a great way to track who has edited files and when, and be able to revert to an earlier version if the file becomes corrupted or if errors are introduced. Some programs require integration with Microsoft Office 365 or Google Drive for Work to edit documents online, while others provide their own word processing and document publishing tool kits for the same purpose.
Compliance and Security
Security is a cause for concern for any business and is often top of mind when seeking and evaluating new business solutions. SMBs and startups might not see an immediate need for compliance or legal concerns, but it pays to think ahead. Systems that can grow with a company’s needs featuring basic permissions as well as version control functions, will have the advantage. Consider a solution that can accommodate compliance requirements down the line. Investing in advanced and redundant security and backup features can only help future proof your business.
Companies with compliance or legal concerns, including financial firms, government entities, medical practices, and schools, will really want to focus on security as a primary criteria. More advanced security features, such as audit trails, advanced permission capabilities, or enterprise authentication tools such as multi-factor authentication (MFA) or integration with a device management system, are less of a “nice-to-have” feature and should even be considered mandatory in some cases.
File retention is another security-related area that most of the DM systems we’ve reviewed support, though the tools and features related to file retention vary between the different platforms. Many companies must legally maintain records for a predetermined period of time. Your DM system should provide tools for preventing permanent file deletion. Ideally, it would offer you an archive solution to facilitate proper identification of obsolete files without compromising you legally.
Compliance considerations should be part of evaluating every aspect of your DM system. In cases where documents containing patient or other customer information are being handled or other compliance factors are in play, collaboration features should be managed very carefully. Many DM systems can prevent users from sharing files with external users (Ascensio System OnlyOffice and Microsoft SharePoint Online) or from saving them to a mobile device. Microsoft SharePoint Online takes this one step beyond the competition by offering rule sets that are tailored toward compliance, with specific laws and regulations based on geography.
Microsoft also has the advantage of being able to offer operating system (OS)-level data protection features such as access controls set at individual and group levels and especially data encryption. But, while Microsoft is able to offer these features largely because of its Windows OS, that’s not the only way the company can deliver these benefits; it’s not the only way its competition can deliver them, either.
Meanwhile, solutions like Adobe Document Cloud Standard offer compliance with regulations like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which protects student-education records.
Be sure to ask how a prospective DM system can deliver advanced security features and you’ll find that some will deliver them through whatever OSes they support, while others will integrate with other back-end business platforms for the same capabilities. Once you’ve nailed down the how, be sure to evaluate how well these measures will work in your particular business environment.
Efficiency and Integration
Nobody really likes a tool if its sole purpose is just to maintain compliance and provide oversight for management. Therefore, ideally, your DM system will also make DM-related tasks easier and more efficient. Automation tools are one area in which a DM system can make your life easier. In some cases, these tools are related to a workflow, though each system implements workflow differently.
Integrating with other business systems, whether a financial system, database, or a cloud storage provider, can increase efficiency and accuracy in a number of ways. One DM system we reviewed can even take scanned documents, automatically divide them into separate records, perform optical character recognition (OCR) on the documents, and then produce output files based on the document content. These can then be imported into other systems to eliminate double entry.
Most of these services also have mobile apps that offer limited or nearly full functionality. Ideally, there should be apps for both Android and iOS so that your employees can have mobile access regardless of their device. Look for features in the app such as document editing and creation and file sharing. Ascensio System OnlyOffice and Microsoft SharePoint Online offer not just iOS apps but also Android and Windows Mobile versions, too. Microsoft SharePoint Online also has a mobile user interface (UI) that worked well in our tests and even includes an option to switch between desktop and mobile views. There, you can open documents, upload files, and add folders. Adobe Document Cloud Standard has mobile apps for Android, iOS, and Windows tablets and phones. You can view and sign documents, and even snap photos of forms and then fill them out on your device. Within Document Cloud Standard, Adobe has now added the ability to edit PDFs from iOS and Android tablets. Touch-enabled features make this functionality simple. Within a PDF, users can change text, format and edit as well as rotate and resize images.
Administrative controls are also important in a DM system. While most file-sharing services let you set permissions on particular files or folders, admins may also want to set global permissions for users. For instance, an admin may want to restrict some users from ever being able to delete files. Other admin controls include the ability to remove a user’s access to some or all files (such as when an employee leaves the company or moves departments) and the ability to change ownership of a file for the same reason.
Compatibility and Customer Service
Customer service and support is a very important element even if the DM system is easy to use. The best systems offer live help in the form of phone calls or web chat; email is also a good resource for non-urgent issues or questions. You may even be able to schedule a phone call with support so you don’t have to wait on hold. For small issues or for when you’re still learning how to use features, access to thorough online documentation is necessary and video demos are even better. Other important features include advanced search and organized FAQs.
If you’re investing in a DM system to manage large parts of your business, then it only makes sense to protect that investment by evaluating the support options for that system. In most cases, DM systems that are primarily cloud-based come with some level of support automatically. Systems that are designed to be implemented within your corporate datacenter will typically require a support agreement, usually with an additional annual cost. In any case, you should consider support costs when evaluating your options.
Finally, compatibility is also important. We’re dealing with web apps here so, unless you’re pairing them with desktop software, there’s not as much to worry about compared with when you use other types of software. However, browser compatibility, API support, and file formats are still important considerations, even today. Check to see that the software functions well on your preferred web browser, especially if your business relies on multiple web apps to function. Also, supporting only one browser can help keep your IT people sane. Additionally, do a document audit to find out which file formats your employees are using day to day and pay special attention to files being produced by any custom software your organization might be using.
Once you have a list, see if you can drop any esoteric formats and instead consolidate to more standard file formats, such as Microsoft Office’s DOCX and Adobe’s PDF. These formats are de facto standards and you can save yourself some headaches by relying on them. If you’re stuck using a proprietary format, then don’t give it short shrift. Make absolutely sure any prospective system can handle these files, not just in terms of storage or routing but also as part of advanced features such as e-signatures and especially security.
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BEST Document Management System
|Local File System Sync||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|File Conflict Management||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Digital Rights Management||No||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Cloud Storage Without Local File System Sync||Yes||No||N/A||No||No|
|Platforms||Android and iOS||Windows, Linux, Mac||Web App, Windows||Windows, Mac, iOS, Android||Windows, Mac, iOS|
|Link||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More||Learn More|
eFileCabinet is a document management software that enables you to import documents in one place. It uses a centralized solution for all your documents. This tool streamlines everyday tasks to increase the productivity of the employees.
It enables you to sign a contract with eSignature. This app allows you to share encrypted files with other people. It uses Zonal OCR for automated form filling.
- You can access your documents from Android and iOS apps.
- It allows you to set a complex password to your document.
- You can track the document version with ease.
- This cloud document management enables you to instantly retrieve a file.
- Enables you to schedule a free demo.
- This software has excellent customer reviews.
Zoho Projects is a collaboration and document management tool created by Zoho. This software helps you to plan your projects, assign tasks, and communicate effectively. It enables you to merge documents, graphics, video clips, reports, spreadsheets in one place.
Zoho Projects enables you to share files of your organization with other people. It also helps you to keep track of your document versions. This tool allows you to search for files using the words written in the content or title and instantly view the result.
- Everyone working on a project can log his/her billable & non-billable hours using timesheets.
- Allows you to create an issue and track them as they get fixed and tested.
- The team will always access the latest version of all project documents.
- Integrates easily with third-party apps like Google, Zapier, GitHub, Dropbox.
- It has good customer reviews.
Bit.ai is a smart document management system that helps firms to organize knowledge by projects, teams, and departments. This tool enables you to create unlimited number of workspaces without any hassle.
It enables you to organize your document content in folders and subfolders. This program offers themes for transforming your documents into a new look with just one mouse click.
- It helps you to get useful information of documents.
- You can run analysis report on any document.
- This cloud document management software enables you to manage user roles and permissions.
- Bit.ai allows you to customize workflow.
- It supports 100+ file formats.
IncoDocs is a tool that enables you to digitize the management of documents for exporters and trading companies. This application helps you to create sales and shipping files faster. It enables you to eliminate manual data entry work and costly delays of shipments.
IncoDocs allows you to connect your team in one shared workspace for remote work. It offers document templates that can be easily stored in a secure cloud environment. This application helps you to minimize the inefficient document export process.
- Offers digital signatures and stamps.
- Enables you to import data from existing sources.
- This product allows you to integrate with your existing software.
- You can access it from any device.
- It is one of the best document management software that helps you to create commercial invoices with ease.
Templafy is a document management system that helps businesses to streamline tasks. This software automatically shows the most relevant content to each employee based on position and usage. It enables you to manage content from a simple dashboard.
Templafy allows you to connect all DMS data directly to documents. It provides a faster workflow for creating business documents. This application ensures all documents created through DMS are stored correctly.
- Provides easy access to relevant company content from the document.
- Allows you to build accurate content quickly.
- It automatically fixes content inconsistency with a single mouse click.
- You can integrate this tool with Dropbox, Salesforce, Box, G Suite, and more.
- It can connect and combine appropriate data from the DMS.
- This cloud storage software enables you to access documents from tablets and smartphones.
Price: On Request
Smartsheet is a document management system that offers collaboration and work management. It automates repetitive processes by sending alerts, requesting updates, and locking row-based changes.
- Smartsheet allows you to automate workflow, including forms.
- You can quickly toggle between card view, grid view, and calendar view.
- It supports live reporting.
- You can easily collaborate with others.
- This software supports mobile app integration with other applications like Google, Salesforce, and Slack.
- Smartsheet allows you to manage resources and domain sharing.
Bitrix24 is a collaborative document management tool for teams with large and small sizes. This software is available in both cloud and on-premise with source code access. It enables you to place documents, presentations, and videos for download or private use.
Bitrix24 manages the version of previous documents. It enables you to edit the files on your PC without any hassle. This application can be integrated with external online storage sites like Dropbox, OneDrive, Google Drive, etc.
- This digital filing system is fully customizable.
- Your organization employees can upload files from personal accounts.
- It helps you to create a custom workflow for draft submissions and contract revisions.
- Bitrix24 enables you to open documents using OpenOffice and MS office.
- It automatically saves your documents to Bitrix24 account.
- Offers on-demand Bitrix24 demo.
Bynder is a CMS with million-plus users around the world. It provides different document management features. It helps professionals to accelerate the creation of video and other content and get the right assets to the people and systems that need them, and ensure brand compliance.
- Great collaboration tools
- Easy to create shareable style guides.
- Ideal for marketing
- Digital asset management
- Offers creative workflow.
- It has excellent customer reviews.
- Bynder can accelerate the end-to-end creative content lifecycle.
- It enables you to securely share files both internally and externally without any hassle.
Docuware is a document management and workflow automation tool. It enables you to keep your critical business information secure and accessible. This application enables you to share, edit and archive contracts.
It uses data encryption to securely access the content. This tool allows you to add notes, comments, signatures in documents.
- This digital filing system offers automated invoice processing.
- You can access your content from any device.
- Enables you to organize your employee records with ease.
- Allows you to store all your documents on cloud-based storage.
- It has good customer reviews.
SharePoint is a web-based document management software that helps you to store, manage, share, and access important information from any device. This tool enables you to collaborate effortlessly and securely with other members.
It allows you to automate your repetitive tasks without any hassle. This tool enables you to exchange data, synchronize files, and more.
- Enables you to manage your documents with ease.
- It offers a comprehensive enterprise management facility.
- This document management solution makes complex workflow simple and easy.
- It has good customer reviews.
Logicaldoc is one of the best document management systems that can be used for small and large enterprises and organizations. It allows you to create and coordinate documents using a robust platform. This tool enables you to store and process important content without any hassle.
It helps you to quickly retrieve content and automate business workflow and tasks. This application provides seamless integration with MS Office and Microsoft Outlook.
- It improves your business productivity through collaboration.
- Offers digital watermarking.
- Allows you to annotate content.
- It helps you to manage file versioning.
- Enables you to develop documents on-premises or cloud.
- This document management solution can be accessed from Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Alfresco is a tool that makes your document management process simple and easy. It allows you to track your document with minimal effort. This tool groups file to easily discover content.
It enables you to manage your documents across 60+ applications like FileNet, Documentum, and OpenText. This software has a built-in workflow to simplify document approval and review. It offers filters that enable you to retrieve relevant content faster.
- You can access your documents offline.
- It allows you to add index in your document.
- Enables you to archive your document.
- This software can be accessed from mobile, web, and desktop.
- Allows you to control the version of documents with no trouble.
Openkm is one of the best document management systems to store and manage your content. This application makes the distribution of files simple and easy. It allows you to monitor workflow status, tasks, and processes.
Openkm software can scan and securely store all your paper documents. It enables you to create a personal document for each user. This app can perform a virus scan of all uploaded documents.
- It helps you control your enterprise content.
- You can collaborate with other people on projects and documents.
- Offers add-ons for Excel, Outlooks, PowerPoint, and Word.
- Allows you to send a document as an email attachment or via document URL.
- Enables you to find needed documents with ease.
- You can add comments to documents.
- Enables you to access past versions of documents.
AODocs is a platform to create, share and manage your content. It allows you to easily create collaterals, processing invoices, and handling contracts. This app helps you to streamline business-critical and content-driven processes.
It enables you to generate documents directly from G Suite. This tool helps you to securely share content with other people in just a few clicks. It offers intuitive ways to search your content from metadata, folders, and more.
- It can retain the disposal of your corporate content.
- This file management software provides an unlimited storage facility.
- It offers a user-friendly dashboard that provides real-time reporting on your business.
- AODocs has automated document template approval process.
- It has a drag and drop feature for the easy creation of documents.This tool ensures that your users only have access to the right version of documents.
15) FileNet Content Manager
FileNet Content Manager is a tool that enables you to extract useful information from documents with ease. This application combines enterprise content, security, and storage features with ready-to-use workflow.
It provides secure access across more than one content store and automates the classification of files. This application enables you to quickly collaborate with other people.
- It helps you manage the versioning of the documents.
- This application automatically modifies documents depending on the role of the user.
- It can create index fields and content types.
- FileNet content manager offers API to build and integrate content services into your business.
16) Compleo Hybrid
Compleo Hybrid is a digital document management solution that enables you to transform, convert and deliver your content. It allows you to add indexing in your documents. This application can create efficient workflow that is secure from the release of the document to delivery. It helps you to optimize broadband and resources for better processing of produced documents.
- It can handle high volumes of documents.
- Allows you to perform document archiving.
- You can control the document version with minimal effort.
- This file management software enables you to add electronic signatures to your documents.
- You can assemble documents without any hassle.
Docupace is a tool that automatically organizes and stores all documents in a secure digital vault. This application allows you to track the actions to identify suspicious activity.
It enables you to assign roles and permissions to manage users and records. This software helps you to reduce expenses associated with record filing, maintenance, data entry, etc.
- You can access your documents from any device.
- Offers true cloud-based WORM (Write Once, Read Many) storage.
- It uses encryption techniques to help you maintain the security of your documents.
- This application allows you to manage your documents with SEC (Securities and Exchange Commission).
- Enables you to assign roles and permissions to access documents. RA
CartaDC is software that enables you to create automatic workflows with minimal effort. It gives you quick visibility into all of your documents from any place. This application allows you to store documents online safely and securely.
It helps you to save time by automatically routing documents to the right people for approval. This app offers compliance monitors to build reports, retention schedules, and alerts with GDPR functionality.
- You can share any number of documents with internal and external stakeholders.
- It supports browsers like Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari.
- Can be easily accessed from Windows and Mac operating system.
DocLink is a tool that enables you to effectively track and manage business documents. This application keeps your files secure and easy to find and manage.
It enables you to assign roles and permissions to determine the access and capabilities for each user. This tool helps you to track document changes in less time.
- It is integrated with ERP solutions.
- Provides easy access to all your documents.
- Helps you to increase productivity and collaboration.
- It automates document distribution.
- You can personalize software with smart forms.
- Allows you to control information throughout the document lifecycle.
- You can access documents from your mobile.
How do you choose Document Management Software?
Here are the important aspects that help you to choose Document Management Software:
- Searching: You have to look for a wide variety of options for quickly finding needed files. It is good that it allows you to search documents by name, content, type, and modified date.
- Simple file structure: The Document Management System must have an easy-to-use file structure.
- Version control: Version control or versioning is important feature of document management software that enables you to track changes in files. The best DMS should also maintain an archive of old versions. Therefore, you can easily see the modifications in documents.
- Mobile access: You have to look for the Document Management System that is accessible via tablets and smartphones. This will allow you to view, alter and share files from any place.
- Integration: The document management system should easily integrate with other software you are already using, like CRM software and email client.
- Scanning: The document management software should provide a document scanning feature.
- Security: The document management system must allow you to assign permissions for a particular user on accessing folders and files.
Document management system is a cloud-based automated solution for creating, organizing, sharing, and securing business documents and files. It enables you to track your document version without any hassle. This cloud storage system provides faster reviews and approvals workflow for different stakeholders located at multiple geographical locations. It allows you to easily access business documents from tablets and smartphones.
There are many document management system software options available today. In fact, it’s never been an easier time to find the right one for your business. However, just because there are so many, doesn’t mean you have to choose the wrong one! You can utilize my expertise and research to help you find what is absolutely the BEST software on the market today.