Document management, also known as Document Management Solutions or Document Management System (DMS), basically refers to the utilisation of a computer system (inclusive of software) as a way of storing, managing, and tracking electronic documents and/ or electronic images which have been captured from paper-based information by a document scanner.
So, the term ‘document management solutions’ simply means how a business or organisation stores, tracks, and manages electronic documents.
What about document management alone? Document management can be defined as the software used to control and organise documents within a business or organisation.
This incorporates document capture, content capture, document repositories (repositories are produced whenever documents are indexed), workflow, information retrieval systems, and output systems. It also incorporates the processes involved in the tracking, storing, and controlling of documents.
Document management solutions is among the precursor technologies involved in content management. Not so long ago, document management solutions was only available as a stand-alone solution, such as workflow, image, or archiving.
Document management solutions provide basic functionality to all types of content management, management capabilities, and imposing controls onto what would otherwise be ‘dumb’ documents.
What this means is that when there are documents that need to be used, you can easily do so in the way that you want.
Among the key features of document management solutions are:
- Check-in and check-out as well as locking. This allows you to be in control of a document when it is being simultaneously edited. That way, when someone makes changes to a document, those changes do not overwrite another person’s changes.
- Version control. This allows tracking of changes to a document. With version control, it’s easy to monitor how those changes came about over time.
- Roll-back. Roll-back allows a prior version of a document to be activated. This is important so that errors can easily be resolved or when a document has been prematurely released.
- Document annotation and stamping.
- Audit trail. A document audit trail permits the tracking of a document in terms of who did what to edit it throughout the document’s life within the system.
Document management solutions, at least to a large degree, has been incorporated into content management. This is because we have far more information available to us and at our fingertips than at any time previously.
Given the mainstreaming of an array of sources, including the internet, smartphones, thumb drives, and more, there has been a huge acceleration for the need to handle all types of information, be it old or new. This is not merely about the fact that we now have more media types available to us – images, text, voice files – it’s also about how structured it is and thus how easily managed it is, too.
Document management systems today come in all different sizes and a variety of scopes. Anything from the smaller, standalone system right on through to configurations that are very large scale and enterprise-wide – document management systems that serve a global audience.
Many document management solutions cater to a means of incorporating what would otherwise be standard physical document filing practices to being electronically filed. These include:
- Security and access control
- Storage location
- Audit trails
- Version control
- Check-in/ check-out in addition to document lockdown.
While document management solutions is still utilised on an independent basis, it’s a commonly found component within the enterprise – otherwise known as an Enterprise Content Management environment.