What is a Document Management System?
A Document Management System (also referred to as a DMS) simply means a computer based program that helps an organization manage documents. This computer based program can be seen by the end users as a web application (a website) where users can manage these documents. This DMS web app could be hosted on-premise of the organization or in the cloud. Alternatively there are DMSs that can be installed on to the computers, however, they are rarely found these days.
Adding, organizing, updating, archiving and searching are the main high level functions of a DMS. Think of the physical way of managing documents in an organization. Tons paper documents are created and used. Searching, sorting, archiving and longevity of documents is really a challenge and expensive. A DMS makes it easy and efficient.
A DMS is a much better digital version of a paper document process and archive. It removes many disadvantages you find in a physical paper based system. With a DMS, an organization’s digital documents can be managed centrally. Security of documents can be guaranteed by setting proper access controls to documents by persons or teams.
The purpose of a DMS is not just to digitize existing paper documents, but also to reduce the use of paper documents by enabling end users to create and manage digital documents.
Most sought out features of a DMS for companies in Sri Lanka are as follows,
Metadata is there for each document and it helps quick search/filter of documents.
Helps upload scanned documents to the DMS. These uploaded documents can be sent through an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) to convert these docs to machine readable text so that for example text searches within a document can easily be performed.
Documents are arranged in a structured manner such as a folder hierarchy. For example, a separate area can be created for each department of an organization. When indexed, classification and search of documents based on metadata is easy.
This is a powerful feature. Compared to paper based systems, as an example DMSs allow retrieval of documents through simple searches of document name or metadata.
This allows check-in/out of documents by users. Maintains a historical list of versions of the changes to the document. This allows retrieving an old version of a document very easily.
This means, a document’s lifecycle can be tracked with changes, reviews or approvals. An organization can have multiple different document workflows. Users can be assigned at each stage of the workflow for specific actions such as approval.
Keeps the full history of the document changes from the creation of the document. It contains info such as who, did which changes at what time. Unlike paper document management, with an audit trail, an organization can properly audit the document history
Many companies now in the process of their IT infrastructure in to the cloud. So, Cloud availability is an important feature of a DMS.
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