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Best Tools for Document Automation

Automation software is one of the best tools for document automation which not only allows you to convert PDF files into other popular file formats such as DOC, but also assist in improving text structure, formatting and appearance of your content.

Document automation software has been around for years. In the ’90s, most people would manipulate their documents using desktop publishing software and a lot of manual work (including typing). Then, when the 21st century finally arrived, the internet was suddenly a recurring part of life – and companies began scrambling to figure out how to use the technology. It wasn’t long before individuals started creating automated document creation tools – and now we have great ones available on our PCs and mobile devices. To help you decide which product is best for your needs, let’s take a closer look at some of the popular products on the market.

Document management software can help you organize your digital documents and digitize your existing paper records with ease. Because there are so many choices on the market, we researched dozens of options to pick the best software for various types of businesses. To make our selections, we considered factors such as hosting options, search capabilities and scanning choices. If you need a document management system for your small business, this guide will help you choose the best one for your needs.

Businesses have a lot of documents to handle. It can be tedious to reach the occasional person when you need data from one of these. To get around this issue, businesses should use automated documents. A document automation software can plow through data in spreadsheets and databases, assemble it, and present it on one screen. It’s also easy to update a document automation tool.

Document Software Review Summary

Software Researched10
VersioningYes
Storage10GB – 4TB
Free Trial Available30 day with demo

Rubex by eFileCabinet: Best Low-Cost Document Management System

Rubex by eFileCabinetRubex offers monthly and annual billing options.Rubex’s smart automation feature recognizes and organizes your documents.Rubex can have a slight learning curve for some users.

Rubex by eFileCabinet Online is a cloud-based solution that allows remote employees to log in from any computer with internet access and have the exact same functionality as they would have when working from the office. In fact, we previously selected Rubex by eFileCabinet as the best document management system for businesses with a remote workforce. It has a sophisticated mobile app that provides access to every stored file. The system uses a traditional cabinet-folder filing structure and provides several ways to search for documents. Rubex by eFileCabinet Online is available in three pricing plans, which vary in features and storage.

February 2021: Rubex recently unveiled a new pricing structure. There are now three pricing tiers that range from $55 to $199 per user, per month when billed annually. If you pay monthly, the prices start at $66 and increase to $239 per user, per month. The plans vary in included storage space and features and tools. Read Rubex by eFileCabinet Review

Microsoft SharePoint: Best Overall Document Management System

Microsoft SharePoint

Microsoft SharePointSharePoint offers comprehensive enterprise content management features.Its excellent collaboration tools allow teams to edit documents simultaneously.It may require additional staff training to learn all of the software’s capabilities.

Microsoft SharePoint is a leader in the document management and collaboration space, and for good reason. Its comprehensive slate of features includes the ability to establish content hubs or organize archives by teams. It allows you to create custom metadata fields across all files stored in the system, making it easy to tailor the way you organize your documents to your business’s needs. It is especially convenient for businesses that already use other Microsoft products, such as Office 365.

SharePoint offers a flexible and scalable platform to organize and manage your documents and to collaborate on creation and editing. However, it is a sprawling system with a bit of a learning curve, so expect your team to require training and some time to become familiar with the system.

October 2020: Microsoft has introduced SharePoint Syntex, its first product from Project Cortex that uses artificial intelligence to go through your company’s data and gather insights that can be automated into processes. Microsoft describes Syntex as a “trainable AI” that processes three main types of content: digital images, structured or semi-structured forms, and unstructured documents. Read Microsoft SharePoint Review

M-Files: Best for Ease of Use

M-Files

M-FilesM-Files has optical character recognition, which automates your metatag process and categorizes scanned files for you.M-Files supports drag-and-drop capabilities.Only M-Files’ enterprise plans provide print and download prevention, two features designed to keep your data private and secure.

M-Files is a comprehensive document management system with an intuitive and easy-to-learn interface. It can serve a variety of industries, such as accounting, business consulting, construction, engineering, energy, financial services, manufacturing, professional services and real estate. M-Files contains numerous tools that allow businesses to seamlessly organize documents, digitize large volumes of physical papers and automate workflow processes. For example, it offers metadata suggestions and version control, simplifying the storage and retrieval process. It can also integrate with Parashift, a deep-tech company that specializes in machine learning document retrieval, so you can further accelerate and simplify your document management processes. Instead of manually classifying documents and reading data, you can automatically process a wide variety of structured, semi-structured, and unstructured documents.

M-Files offers three different service plans. We like that each one is available as an on-premises, cloud-based or hybrid system, so users can choose the type of system that best meets the needs and capabilities of their organization. Each plan also comes with easy implementation and automatic updates, so you can be sure your document management system is up to date. M-Files offers rapid deployment packages, managed services, and team training services if you need additional assistance. The company also offers a wealth of online learning resources, such as industry reports, case studies, infographics, e-books, videos, podcasts and on-demand webinars.Read M-Files Review

VIENNA Advantage Community: Best Free Document Management System

VIENNA Advantage Community

VIENNA Advantage CommunityVIENNAA Advantage is an open-source document management system.It is certified for compliance and quality by TÜV SÜD.VIENNA Advantage can be complex and require some technical know-how to implement it.

VIENNA Advantage is an open-source, community-driven document management system that is available to businesses for free. Its user-friendly interface is easy to navigate and neatly organized. It has workflow automation options to streamline tasks and secure encryption of sensitive documents. It is also scalable, allowing your business to grow with a free document management system.

The challenge associated with VIENNA Advantage is technical; you must rely on the support of its user community to help you implement the software and troubleshoot any issues. Unlike paid document management software, VIENNA Advantage does not offer a tech support team.

January 2021: VIENNA Advantage has recently been certified by TÜV SÜD, which provides safety, security, and sustainability solutions as well as testing, certification and auditing services. VIENNA Advantage’s TÜV SÜD certification includes certification for ISO/IEC 25051:2014 and IDW PS 880 (GoBS) standards, which verify that the software works as offered and that it stores data safely and properly. Read VIENNA Advantage Community Review

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.

Key TakeawayKey takeaway: Cloud-based document management software typically costs between $15 and $200 per user per month. The price varies on how many features and tools you want access to.

Benefits of Document Management Software

A document management system can improve efficiency for you and your staff by organizing all of your files and making them easy for anyone in the organization to find. The many benefits of a DMS system include:

Time savings  

If you are currently using a manual system, you are costing yourself hours that could otherwise be spent on other, more pressing business matters. A DMS automates many aspects of document management, taking that responsibility off your hands. 

Easy scaling

A document management system is more flexible than a traditional paper filing system. It easily accomdoates your business’s growth, and your indexing system can be adjusted with a few clicks. It may  reduce the need for physical storage space for files and paper documents.

Enhanced document security

As the world shifts toward digital solutions, ensuring that your information (customer data, trade secret info, etc.) is secure is critical. Document management systems come with built-in security and access controls so you determine who can access certain documents. In addition, you can see all activity on any given document.

In the event of a disaster, like a fire or flood, your files are stored safely in the cloud, away from physical harm.

Quick and easy document retrieval

Searching for the right document can be difficult and time-consuming; it can even cost you money. With the right indexing system, finding a document can take mere seconds, and employees can remotely access the documents they need. [Discover the benefits of a paperless office.]

Did you know?Did you know? Organizations can lose thousands of hours of productivity each year due to poor document management. Discover other benefits of a paperless office.

Better regulatory compliance

Compliance requirements for many business documents can be complex and demanding; a DMS can help you avoid fines, revoked licenses or even criminal liability by automating key documents within the requirements. For example, HIPAA and the Sarbanes-Oxley anti-fraud law have strict security and policy regulations regarding documents and records – a DMS automatically follows those guidelines.

Improved collaboration

A DMS makes sharing information and collaboration easy, allowing documents from different sources to be accessed from multiple locations. Users can also share documents, monitor workflows, grant or deny access to certain documents, and see what changes have been made.

What to Look for in Document Management Software

While all document management systems digitize and organize documents, making them easy to retrieve or revise for users with permission, many other features might be built into your document management software. Here’s a look at some of the tools and aspects you might want to consider when choosing a document management system.

Usability

One of the most important elements of any software is usability. It could offer all the features in the world, but they won’t do you any good if the system isn’t user-friendly. Many document management systems offer free trials that allow you to test them before buying. If possible, allow your team to try out the software during the free trial period and offer their feedback on what they like and dislike about it.

Document Sharing and Collaboration

While the primary function of a document management system is to digitize and organize files, most modern software also allows users to share files with one another and collaborate on editing them. Some document management software allows users to edit a document simultaneously, while others rely on a check-in/checkout feature that guarantees only one user can work on a document at a time. Others offer both options.

Version Control

Version control, sometimes referred to as “versioning,” is a critical feature of document management software that lets you keep track of changes to a document. The best document management software even maintains an archive of old versions, letting you see how documents have changed over time and revert to an old version if needed.

Image Scanning and OCR

Image scanning and optical character recognition are useful features for businesses that have a lot of paper records they would like to digitize. Scanning is the first step – turning a paper record into a digital file that can be imported into the software. OCR is a more advanced feature, but it’s a must-have for streamlining large digitization projects. OCR reads the text of an image and makes the content of the image searchable. The best document management systems use OCR to automatically fill out metadata and make it even easier to search for the document later.

Electronic Signatures

Document management software is often home to files that require a manager’s signature, such as purchase orders. Many document management systems integrate with an e-signature tool, such as DocuSign, to allow electronic signatures. You can often send a document to a recipient with a request for their signature through the software.

Workflow Automation

Workflow automation features move tasks along automatically. Take the purchase order above as an example: You could set up a workflow automation so that once a purchase order is generated, it automatically goes to the appropriate manager for their signature. The manager will receive a notification, and when the task is complete, the next relevant team member (such as someone in the accounting department or the manager’s supervisor) will be notified. If more action is necessary, you might be able to build that into the automated workflow as well. The best document management systems allow you to customize workflows to suit the way your teams work together.

TipFYI: Automated workflows can help streamline your business processes and maintain legal compliance.

User Permissions

An essential element of document management software is the ability for administrators to set individual user permissions. Permissions allow certain users to view or edit files, while others can be prevented from even seeing those documents in the system. Not only is this useful for efficiency purposes, it is also an important security measure. The best document management software allows administrators to set permissions by specific groups, as well as to change permissions on the fly if you need to make an exception while keeping the default permissions settings the same.

Mobile Functionality

In today’s business environment, mobile device access is essential. Many document management systems have a dedicated mobile app. Others rely on web browsers or online portals. Make sure the mobile version of any document management software you are considering is truly mobile-friendly. Even if you personally don’t use it on mobile devices, it is likely other members of your team will.

Not every document management system checks all these boxes, while others offer all of them and more. When choosing your document management software, consider which tools and features would be most useful to your business. It is important to strike a balance between comprehensiveness and usability; for instance, some systems can do it all but are a challenge to navigate (not to mention more expensive than simpler software).

Data Security

Data security is a vital part of any document management system. In 2019, reports TechRepublic, the number of breaches increased by 54%, 89% of which were outside attacks.

As an increasing number of businesses go digital, more customers are entrusting sensitive personal information to the companies they do business with. Your organization is responsible for ensuring customer data is safe and protected from a breach. Look for document management services that offer encryption and compliance tools, auto-updates, data redundancy and backups.

Best Document Generation Software

Document generation software allows users to generate, customize, edit, and produce data driven documents. These platforms can function as PDF creators, and document generators that pull data from third-party sources into templates. Document generation applications can leverage data from a variety of source systems like CRM, ERP and storage. Document generation applications should easily maintain brand consistency and offer conditional formatting. Documents created through these products range in functionality and can include reports, forms, proposals, legal documentation, notes, and contracts, among others.

To qualify for inclusion in the Document Generation category, a product must: Enable the creation of text-based and graphically rich documents Allow documents to be saved and exported in multiple formats Have the ability to store and share documents Offer data merge/import capability from 3rd party systems such as ERP or CRM Support dynamic and/or customizable templates Support complex content types such as tables, images, charts, and custom fonts

CONCLUSION

Document management software is highly diverse. Each solution offers unique benefits for businesses based on size, industry, and many other factors. Consider your specific collaboration needs, security preferences, and whether the solution you’re looking at will integrate seamlessly with the business tools you already use.

No matter how appealing it may seem, stopping to manually fill out countless forms on a daily basis is not the most efficient use of time. While computers are great at many things, filling out forms is not one of them. Luckily, there are tools on the market that can help us make our lives easier while utilising the highly specific information we have available to us.

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