What Is an Electronic Document Management System?

An electronic document management system (EDMS) manages the creation, use and storage of documents. While electronic document management systems share similarities with enterprise content management (ECM) systems, it’s important to differentiate them, especially when shopping for solutions.

Most ECM systems can be considered EDMS platforms, but not the other way around. Traditional EDMS platforms lack some of the functionality that many ECM systems provide, including intelligent content capture and business process automation features.

However, even on its own, an EDMS offers a comprehensive solution to help knowledge workers efficiently organize and distribute documents across their organizations.

EDMS platforms contain tools for:

Scalable and centralized document storage
Versioning, markup and collaborative editing
Access control and tagging
Metadata management and full-text search
Federated searches across multiple resources and platforms
Managing document and record lifecycles
Internal and external file sharing
Tracking document history and system activity

Common features of an EDMS

An electronic document management system offers a robust feature set aimed to promote information governance, transparency and collaboration across the enterprise.

Federated Search

Search multiple data stores from one interface.

Metadata & Full-Text Search

Search based on results within document text or associated metadata.

WORM Storage

Retain records in an unalterable, write once, read many (WORM) format.

Document Markup

Add annotations, highlights, stamps, text boxes, redactions and more to documents.

Version Control

Track modifications to documents and their version history.

Mobile App

Manage and use a repository from your smartphone.

Security & Audit Trails

Protect content from unauthorized access and track how and when content is accessed.

Cloud Deployment Options

Limit IT overhead and increase system scalability with the cloud.

External File Sharing

Share information with external parties safely and conveniently.

Records Management

Streamline the management of record lifecycles, supporting compliance efforts.

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Who should use an EDMS?

Organizations typically start considering an electronic document management system when

  • Response times to customer requests don’t meet expectations.
  • Recurring process bottlenecks start to stretch resources thin.
  • Traditional archiving methods become a strain on budgets.
  • A data breach or compliance fine makes regulatory risk a top concern.

For organizations that have clearly defined but resource-intensive business processes and workflows, an EDMS is an ideal fit. Document management helps organizations across industries sidestep busywork by mitigating the need for manual document maintenance, opening up opportunities to reclaim valuable staff time and boost the bottom line.

Common pain points prior to using an EDMS:

Spiraling costs in physical and/or outsourced archiving and storage
Time-consuming document search and retrieval
Lengthy response times for client-facing requests
Increasing delays in core business processes
Siloed information across departments and working groups
Information governance issues and disaster recovery risks
Data entry errors due to manual document processing

Electronic document management system deployments are often initiated by IT to standardize information management practices between departments that had previously been inconsistent or varied. For example, if one department was storing content on cloud drives, and another was doing so on personal computers and unsecured shared drives, a savvy IT department could come in and implement an EDMS to standardize and protect this information.

Department managers that oversee back-office processes like HR management, accounting and contract management (or other repetitive processes with defined steps) also frequently catalyze the move towards an EDMS platform. Starting a small-scale document management project for a specific process pain point helps demonstrate initial gains that can be applied to other areas of business.

Implementing electronic document management software is also a recommended first step that a company can take to kickstart larger digital transformation projects. Moving from physical to digital storage opens up the possibilities for gaining new efficiencies from process automation solutions, including analytics dashboards that can help your organization identify and address process bottlenecks.

Document Management Explained

See how your organization can keep its content more organized and secure with a document management system. An EDMS provides a centralized, protected repository that employees can access from almost anywhere, while increasing transparency and efficiency across the enterprise.

Benefits and ROI of EDMS

Companies that choose an EDMS platform to digitize paper archives see initial gains by reducing the volume of paper that needs to be stored and reallocating financial and employee resources previously spent managing paperwork to other projects, increasing productivity. However, there are many more benefits. Ultimately, a robust set of document management tools enables organizations to:

Provide a Single Point of Information Access

No more digging through multiple storage rooms or software systems to find what you need. Users can find exactly what they need, when they need it – across repositories, devices and document formats.

Foster Collaboration Between Teams

Extensive markup options, version control, simultaneous document editing and more enable employees to work together on document changes and make better, more informed business decisions.

Improve Document Security

Organizations can control information access in order to bolster their efforts to stay in compliance with regulations, mitigate data loss and prevent data breaches.

Ensure Resiliency in Times of Crisis

Choose a cloud-based EDMS and be ready for whatever comes your way, with your information always ready and backed up around-the-clock.

Increase Transparency in Document Use & Modification

Get a bird’s-eye view of how documents are being used throughout the organization and manage records using clearly defined retention schedules.

Process Customer & Public Service Requests Quickly

Provide instant and secure access to information for clients, customers or citizens with public portals, or share content on an individual basis using secure file sharing.

Customers can't say enough about Laserfiche document management

In a crowded EDMS market, Laserfiche document management sets a standard for its ability to effectively centralize, gather information from and secure critical content organizations need for business operations.

Typical ROI for electronic document management


Up to $5 in savings per document that would have been processed with paper.

Cost Reduction

40% reduction in costs related to how your organization manages documents.


Half of all companies using an EDMS realize an ROI within six months.

5 Year ROI

Some organizations receive an ROI of over 400% over five years from using an EDMS.

Contact Us for Your ECM Needs

Whether you have product questions, support needs, or want to partner with us, we’re here to help you on your digital transformation journey. Fill out the form and a Laserfiche team member will be in touch as soon as possible.