12 Components of Document Management System

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Written By Haisam Abdel Malak
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The components of a document management system form the foundation that help organizations unlock the true potential of their workforce by enabling quick access to documents whenever needed. By understanding these elements, businesses can scale their implementation and deliver better experience for employees and customers.

Nowadays, organizations of all sizes have no valid reasons for not embracing an EDMS. In case of low budget, multiple open-source document management systems are readily available, offering valuable assistance in efficiently organizing your documents and automating processes.

These solutions come equipped with powerful features to provide numerous benefits including facilitating seamless document storage, retrieval, and collaboration.

Components of document management system

The key components of a document management system are:

1- Document Capture

This element involves the import of physical or digital documents into the EDMS to serve their need in the future. It helps organizations convert paper documents, images, surveys, or any other type into a digital format for easier storage and retrieval.

With efficient document capture, businesses can streamline their workflow processes, reduce manual data entry errors, and enhance overall productivity.

There are several ways that documents can be imported including:

  • Physical documents, users have to explicitly scan papers using a scanner and an OCR application to transform them into digital format and easily searched for in the future.
  • Digital documents can be imported one at a time, or in multiple shots, or from another application.

2- Document Indexing

The goal of adding the documents into a central repository is to deliver this information to the right audience at the right time and the right place. Through indexing, documents are assigned relevant tags, allowing for easy categorization and quick retrieval based on specific criteria.

This tag might include keywords, dates, authors, or any other relevant attributes. As a result, users can easily locate and access the required documents without the need for manual browsing through countless files and folders.

3- Document Storage

document storage

Document storage is one of the fundamental components of a document management system specially for small business as it serves as the centralized repository for all types of information and files within an organization.

Providing a scalable, centralized, and secure repository for all your business documents will help improve productivity, reduce data breaches, and have a more organized implementation. In addition, businesses can efficiently organize and manage vast amounts of data, enabling quick retrieval, version control, and collaborative sharing among team members.

There are two kinds of storage available nowadays:

  • On-premises: the documents will reside on your organization’s hardware giving you full control over security, backup, size. This however increases your operational costs as you often need to scale your hardware to support more document quantities.
  • Cloud-based: the documents will reside on a third-party cloud-based service that will take care of security, archiving, and backup when needed.

4- Document Versioning

During the document creation process, multiple versions are often generated to accommodate comments and feedback from all parties involved. An EDMS plays a pivotal role in automating document versioning, distinguishing between major and minor modifications.

This feature ensures a seamless record of document changes, making it easy to track the evolution of the content. Furthermore, an EDMS allows users to designate older versions as active versions whenever necessary, providing flexibility and control over the document’s lifecycle management.

This capability proves invaluable in collaborative environments, as it enables teams to revert to earlier iterations if required, maintaining a comprehensive history of the document’s development.

5- Full Text Search

This document management system component makes it possible for locating documents not only based on tags and metadata but also it allows locating documents by searching within the text inside the document, image, or any other digital content.

This is particularly beneficial in knowledge-intensive environments, allowing teams to access critical data instantly, make informed decisions, and foster effective collaboration.

6- Audit Trail

During critical periods, having a comprehensive log of all operations performed on a specific document becomes exceptionally crucial. This log should capture vital details, including the history of downloads, the document’s creators, the number of versions created, metadata values associated with each version, and the differences between those versions.

Such a detailed log serves multiple purposes. Firstly, it enhances security by providing a clear audit trail, allowing organizations to monitor and track any unauthorized access or changes to sensitive information.

Secondly, it ensures transparency and accountability within environments, enabling teams to review the document’s evolution and contributions made by various stakeholders.

7- Documents Retrieval

According to Worlddata, the average annual wage for employees in the United States in 2021 is $70,430. So, each employee costs the organization over $21.000 per year merely to search for information and that’s add up to $1740 per month.

This particular component has a transformative impact on retrieval speed, making it remarkably swift to access any required document promptly. As a result, employees can effortlessly retrieve the necessary information, freeing up significant amounts of their valuable time.

8- Annotation & Collaboration

In all work environment, it is common for employees to engage in a process of commenting and annotating on documents as part of their workflow before arriving at the final version. This interactive and iterative approach is crucial for gathering feedback, making improvements, and ensuring the document’s accuracy and quality.

Thankfully, some have gone the extra mile by offering real-time annotation capabilities, revolutionizing the way teams work. With this component, multiple users can simultaneously access and work on the same document, making comments, suggestions, and edits in real time.

9- Automated Workflows

McKinsey estimates that 60% of employees could save 30% of their time with workflow automation.

Digitizing documents and organizing them within a centralized repository provides organizations with the opportunity to leverage the capabilities of an EDMS to automate document-centric processes, such as handling leave requests, termination requests, and various other workflows.

Moreover, it grants users the ability to assign approvals for specific revisions, which triggers automatic notifications to the designated approvers. This streamlined approach ensures that the right individuals are promptly notified when actions need to be taken.

As a result, the approval process becomes more efficient, reducing delays and expediting decision-making. By incorporating these functionalities, organizations can enhance their overall productivity, streamline workflows, and create a more agile and responsive environment.

10- Flexible & Robust Security

This is one of the most powerful components of document management system is its robust security module, designed to empower organizations to significantly mitigate or eliminate the risk of data breaches and exposure of sensitive information that could adversely impact their brand reputation.

This sophisticated security module offers a plethora of capabilities, including granular security controls, role-based access management, and encryption mechanisms, making it exceptionally hard for unauthorized personnel to access or download documents.

Through granular security, organizations can precisely define access rights for individual users or groups, ensuring that only authorized personnel can view or interact with specific documents.

Role-based access management allows administrators to assign permissions based on job roles or responsibilities, further safeguarding critical information.

By implementing state-of-the-art encryption techniques, sensitive data within the documents remains unreadable and secure, even if unauthorized individuals manage to gain access to the files.

With such an all-encompassing security infrastructure, organizations can confidently protect their valuable assets, maintain customer trust, and uphold their brand’s integrity.

11- Powerful Administration Tool

A Powerful Administration Tool is a crucial component within a document management system (DMS) as it plays a central role in overseeing and optimizing the system’s performance. It empowers administrators with the ability to efficiently manage user access, permissions, and document workflows.

It facilitates the monitoring of system activities which will allow for the identification of potential issues, security breaches, or workflow bottlenecks. Also, it enables the enforcement of compliance standards and regulatory requirements by offering features such as audit trails and version control.

In addition, a powerful administration tool will help you with:

  • Add/Remove/Lock users into the system and define their roles (administrators, members, read-only).
  • Import users from your active directory.
  • Create groups & managing their members.
  • Define template types and their properties.
  • Create workflow visually to automate processes.
  • Organize information based on their storage type. That will allow you to organize your organization’s documents and manage access.

12- Integration Capabilities

Consider the multitude of applications you utilize in your daily work-related tasks, ranging from MS Office, including Office 365 and Outlook, to HR, CRM, ERP systems, and more.

In the realm of business-related processes, accessing data and documents often necessitates tapping into various systems employed throughout the organization. The seamless integration of these systems becomes crucial to ensure efficient workflow and streamlined access to critical information across departments and teams.

Embracing interoperability among these applications enhances productivity, fosters innovation, and empowers employees to make well-informed decisions by leveraging data from different sources.

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