Top 8 Powerful Open Source Document Management Systems

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When it comes to choosing a document management system for a company, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “What are the top open source document management systems on the market?”

Organizations increasingly deal with a large number of documents in their daily operations, and maintaining them has become an exceedingly difficult task for management and personnel.

Managing and organizing documents inside a corporation is no longer a luxury; it is now a must in order to decrease costs, boost productivity, safeguard sensitive information, get insights, and make educated business decisions.

During the COVID19 pandemic, organizations without a proper document management system implementation found themselves unable to conduct business while working from home. Companies realized the need to be able to access their documents from anywhere.

In fact, the number of people searching for “Free Document Management System” or “Document management system open source” on Google has increased by about 900 percent in the previous three months as shown in the picture below.

Document Management System Open Source Free
Document Management System Open Source Free

In this article, we’ll explain what an open source document management system is. What are the best free/open source document management systems available? and what are their advantages?

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What is an Open Source Document Management System (DMS)?

An open source document management system is a system or software used to capture, store, manage, and easily retrieve documents within an organization. Normally this will result in cost reduction and employee productivity improvement.

A non-proprietary document management software can be downloaded for free. Furthermore, there are no license fees or expenses per document for the user. The software’s source code is also available to the public.

The advantage of having the source code available is the opportunity to customize it to meet the demands of your department or company. To do so, you must learn the languages used to develop the software, and any software developer with minimum expertise may tweak or add more connectors with other accessible business line applications.

A licensed DMS, on the other hand, needs one-time or monthly charges based on the number of users and documents and does not allow for in-house customization. When your business requires customization, you must contact the software manufacturer to make the necessary changes, which is normally a chargeable service.

There is a big list of top free DMS software available in the market but choosing the best one for your organization can have a significant impact on how your organization operates.

Most of the available free document management software comes in two versions: Community and Enterprise.

Community Edition

A completely free version that you may download and install on your organization’s internal servers. You are allowed to modify it to meet your own business requirements. However, this version doesn’t include any support from the publishers.

You will very certainly want support down the road if you are experiencing technical difficulties in the deployment, troubleshooting, or even wanting to learn how it works internally in order to personalize it.

Enterprise Edition

An enterprise edition of the free document management software will cost your firm an annual fee in order to receive vendor assistance in the event of a problem in the production environment, help in customization, or troubleshooting.

What Are The Benefits Of Using Open Source Document Management Software?

An open source document management will most certainly minimize your reliance on paper documents, lowering physical storage and printing expenses. Furthermore, it allows employees to discover documents more quickly, and controlling the lifecycle of documents is simplified and managed.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant advantages of implementing an open source DMS.

1- Minimum Initial Cost

This is the most essential advantage that companies may require at this time. When you begin a digitization project inside your firm, you usually do not want to commit to a high-priced licensed solution unless it can be demonstrated to management that it would lower overall business operations expenses and enhance productivity.

The first expense of deploying free document management software is the availability of the hardware on which the software will be put.

2- Prepare Employees

At the outset, you may pick key personnel to begin testing and working on the solution in order to learn how the functions operate and how they can be maximized.

It is critical to become acquainted with the solution. It allows you to properly test it and get a sense of how easy it is to use and what restrictions you may encounter in the future.

3- Prepare The Proper Plan & Best Practices

Having an open source document management system will give you enough time to prepare of how do you want to implement a proper plan across your organization.

Planning is very essential in document management. Your organization needs to understand how the documents are collected or generated, how they are flowing internally, what type of documents to manage, how to automatically capture information, etc.

I strongly advise you to read the article below for a list of challenges you are likely to face.

11+ Critical Document Management Challenges and Solutions (theecmconsultant.com)

4- Ability To Customize

Having an open source DMS, like anything else in life, has advantages and disadvantages. It is quite powerful to have the source code available for your company to alter and adjust features.

Furthermore, you may wish to combine your document management system with other business line systems that are already in place in your firm. That should be simple if you have a developer with the necessary expertise.

To summarize, employing open source solutions is especially beneficial for small and medium-sized businesses. Because these types of solutions are free to use, there is little risk for businesses who are just getting started with digitized document management.

I highly recommend to check out the below article for a complete list of benefits

15 Remarkable Document Management Systems Benefits (theecmconsultant.com)

Top Open Source Document Management Systems

I’m sure you’ve read this far in order to get to the most crucial section. What choices do we have when it comes to free document management software?

The top 8 open source document management systems are: OpenKM, OpenDocMan, LogicalDoc, Krystal DMS, Kimios, Mayan EDMS, SeedDMS, Alfresco community edition.

Let’s take a closer look at the top 8 free and open source document management systems. A detailed table comparing these products is included below.

It should be noted that the order of the list does not indicate which option is preferable than the others.

1- OpenKM

OpenKM is a document management software that combines all necessary document management, collaboration, and sophisticated search functions into a single user-friendly solution. The system also offers administrative tools for defining multiple user roles, access control, user quotas, document security level, complete records of activity, and automation setup.

I tested this product a while back and found it to have outstanding document management, records management, and document processing capabilities. I highly recommend checking it out.

OpenKM may be used by organizations to manage documents, content, security, document workflow automation, and information obtained from any digital source.

When it comes to open source products, my personal preference is to have well-defined documentation that explains how to configure and utilize the product at the most basic level without having to pay for trainings. OpenKM includes excellent documentation, videos, and webinars to help you get started.

Another advantage is the availability of Microsoft Office Addons to help you easily import document with metadata to your repository.

The disadvantage is the small number of users and the limited size of the repository..

It comes with two editions: Community and Professional.

2- OpenDocMan

OpenDocMan is a free, web-based, open source document management system (DMS) written in PHP designed to comply with ISO 17025 and OIE standard for document management. It features web based access, fine grained control of access to files, and automated install and upgrades.

It includes all of the fundamental capabilities of document management, including the ability to build up document approval cycles. It is incredibly light and simple to deploy and use. What I dislike about it is the crude user interface.

Remember that the younger generation of employees is accustomed to intuitive user experiences, and they will be dissatisfied if you deliver a poor one.

Another point is the lack of a clear documentation and training materials

It comes with two editions: Community and Enterprise

OpenDocMan

3- LogicalDOC 

LogicalDoc is yet another excellent free document management software option. The GNU license is used to provide the community edition, which is absolutely free to download. The program provides a variety of functions and makes it simple to manage your documents and files.

It organizes personal or business documents, making it easier to locate prior versions. It allows for content-based searching by utilizing document content indexing. It is presently available in 15 languages.

It supports almost all internet browsers. However the mobile and tablet application is not available for the community edition.

As you may know, my preferred option for open source document management systems is to have comprehensive documentation and videos, which LogicalDoc does.

It comes with 4 editions: community, business, cloud, and enterprise.

The below is the full comparison between editions

Document Management System Features (logicaldoc.com)

I strongly advise you to check it out.

4- Krystal DMS

You may also use Krystal DMS, which is a highly unique document management software. The application has complex capabilities such as indexing, thorough auditing, and multilingual support to help you manage your documents with ease.

It is an award-winning Document Management Software Solution from Primeleaf Consulting, Mumbai, India. It is easy to install, easy to configure and easy to use system that allows you to spend more time on customer facing activities – instead of on tedious administrative and paper-based chores.

The fact that this solution has a large number of well-known clients is a plus. That demonstrates that you may begin with the community edition and then upgrade to a paying license once you tried it out and ready to scale it up.

It does not, however, support mobile devices or provide document collaborative options.

It comes with different editions: Enterprise, Premium, Standard, and Community.

Check below link for a detailed comparison between these editions

KRYSTAL Document Management System (DMS) India | Products | Comparison (krystaldms.in)

5- Kimios

Kimios is an open source document management program used to store, edit, create and track documents. It offers smart digital workflow solutions and document control.

It was designed to help companies and departments with a large document flow: Human Resources, Financial Departments, Quality Service, etc.

Kimios web application is currently tested on Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer and Safari. It has a powerful search engine based on metadata and full text search, multiplatform and desktop integration, service-oriented support, and an index that can be customized.

It can be accessed via a Web browser, a Windows desktop (with support for Microsoft Office), a specialized interface, or a virtual disk, and it also offers mobile access.

In general, it is a very good software, with easy to use interface, and provide workflow capabilities. The only issue is the lack of proper documentation.

It’s worth noting that their website hasn’t been updated since 2020.

6- Mayan EDMS

Mayan EDMS is an open-source software that allows the full lifecycle of documents with a quite an impressive feature set. It can save several versions of a document via document versioning. You may download it or return to an earlier version, and you can track its progress with document workflows.

Document versioning, sophisticated security and rights allocation, retention policies, document linking and referencing, document workflows, and a flexible design that works on computers, mobiles, and tablets are all included.

I haven’t tried it myself, but based on their client list, it appears to be a viable option.

To get you started, there is online documentation available.

It comes with two editions: Community and Enterprise. Even their support is reasonably priced.

7-  Alfresco Community Edition

If you are a tech enthusiast with the ability to self-support, our Community Edition products are freely available and offer powerful capabilities for non-critical business process or content needs. Alfresco’s open source software is widely adopted for community-driven development and contributions as well as for researching new features.

It helps more than 1,300 industry-leading organizations, including Cisco, Pitney Bowes, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, US Department of the Navy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and NASA, be more responsive and competitive

Alfresco is a very well known open source enterprise content management system which covered all the functionalities needed to manage your documents and content including a powerful workflow engine.

Community Editions Include:

Alfresco Community Edition: The open source Enterprise Content Management software that handles any type of content, allowing users to easily share and collaborate on content.

Activiti: The open source Business Process Management software with a high performance business process engine suitable for running a wide variety of processes.

Because Alfresco was just acquired by Hyland, I was hesitant to bring it up because we don’t know what the future of this product would be. Will the community version be made available in the future?

Nothing is obvious as of now, but it will always be an outstanding contender for your firm to utilize.

8- SeedDMS 

SeedDMS is a free document management system with an easy to use web based user interface for small and medium sized enterprises. It is based on PHP and MySQL or sqlite3 and runs on Linux, MacOS and Windows. Many years of development has made it a mature, powerful and enterprise ready platform for sharing and storing documents.

SeedDMS has a lot of capabilities, but it’s also easy to install and use. It has several applications, ranging from private document storage to business use with rigorous and complex workflow control. Users employ it for storing invoices, documentation, learning materials, emails, etc.

It works, and it’s simple to set up and use. However, it is not enterprise-ready! It is not feasible to remove numerous files, you cannot change the original document name, and accessing a document requires too many clicks. Documentation is insufficient. For that, it is best suited to personal and small company requirements.

9- OpenProdoc (Bonus Entry)

OpenProdoc is a Document Management System that enables features such as:

  • Ability to define types of folders / files to structure documents according to the organizational structure, the processes of the business, etc…
  • Define document types for each project or area
  • Store documents in a folder structure
  • Assign metadata to facilitate business use of the documents and subsequent search
  • Create multiple versions of documents
  • Share documents among groups of users, permitting or restricting access based on permissions

It features a complete portable version just for easy of deployment, evaluation and personal use in addition to a good documentation to get you started.

This document management system is developed by Joaquín Hierro.

The table below compares the community versions of the above open source document management systems.

The information gathered is research. However, if you wish to seek for a specific product, you must contact the merchant directly for confirmation.

Three of the aforementioned products were unable to locate documentation, or only a premium version of the documentation was accessible.

FeaturesOpenKMLogicalDocKrystal DMSMayan EDMS
User Interface
Multilingual
Desktop
Mobile Web X
iOS App – iPad and iPhoneXX
AndroidXX
Document Management
Version Control
Metadata & Templates
Indexing
Searching
Audit Trail
TagsX
Version ComparisonXXX
Saved SearchN/AXXN/A
Digital WatermarkingXXX
Full Text SearchX
OCR X
Online EditingXXXX
Digital SignatureXX
File PreviewX
Records Management
Archiving & RetentionXX
Collaboration
Checkout / Check-in
AnnotationsXXXX
Internal Messaging SystemXX
Workflow EngineXX
Security
Users and Groups
Password ExpirationN/AN/AX
Single Sign-onXX
Files EncryptionXN/AN/A
Reports
Basic StatisticsN/A
Standard ReportsN/A
Integration
DropBoxXXX
Ms OfficeXXX

Which Free Document Management Software Is Best?

In general, there is no best free document management software; it all depends on the demands and business requirements of your organization. Each free document management software has benefits and drawbacks.

The comparison above will give you a good idea, but you must conduct your investigation and examine your company requirements before proceeding.

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