What is an Electronic Document Management System?

An electronic document management system (EDMS) manages the creation, use, and storage of documents in most, if not all, formats. While electronic document management systems share similarities with enterprise content management (ECM) systems, it can be important to differentiate them, especially when shopping for solutions. Most ECM systems can be considered EDMS platforms, but not the other way around. EDMS platforms lack some of the functionality of ECM systems, including intelligent content capture, business process automation and records management features.

However, even on its own, an electronic document management system 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

By centralizing information use and access, electronic document management serves as a hub from which broader information management strategies like ECM, records management and business process automation can be connected and deployed.

Common Features of EDMS

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

    Enable authorized employees to locate files across document folders and repositories, with the ability to search based on file name, metadata, document contents and more.

  • Document Markup

    Add annotations, highlights, stamps, text boxes and more to your documents. Advanced EDMS systems also offer the ability to redact particularly sensitive information.

  • Security & Audit Trails

    Use robust security controls and document tags to ensure information is only available to authorized employees, roles or departments. Audit trails automatically track who is accessing information and when to support regulatory compliance.

  • Records Management

    Securely store records, connect them to retention schedules and apply legal holds, simplifying how you comply with recordkeeping regulations and manage records throughout their lifecycle.

  • Document Metadata & Full-Text Search

    Customizable metadata fields — which can include information such as creation dates, statuses and more — provide context for documents and makes them easier to search for. An electronic document management system also enables users to search a document’s full text for a search term when metadata isn’t enough.

  • Version Control

    Automatically track modifications to documents and metadata, creating a history of document use to maintain compliance with governance standards. Check-in and check-out features help ensure information integrity and streamline collaboration.

  • Cloud Resiliency & Scalability

    Minimize system downtime and be ready for any increases in scale with a cloud-based EDMS that adapts to your needs with little-to-no IT infrastructure cost or maintenance.

  • Digital Vault Services

    Organizations in highly regulated industries, such as wealth management, can retain records in an unalterable, write once, ready many (WORM) format.

  • Mobile Application Access

    Leverage easy-to-use mobile apps to securely retrieve and receive information from your repository, increasing collaboration between those in the office and out in the field.

  • External File Sharing

    Secure hosting for individual files and public portals help ensure information can be shared with external parties safely and conveniently.

Who Uses EDMS?

Organizations typically start considering an electronic document management system when customer response times become too slow, departments don’t have bandwidth to solve recurring process bottlenecks, traditional archiving becomes too costly or when regulatory risks are exposed after a data breach or compliance fine.

For organizations that have defined but resource-intensive business processes, an EDMS is an ideal fit. Document management helps organizations across industries sidestep this busywork by eliminating manual document maintenance, reclaiming valuable staff time and boosting 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 using its own imaging system and another team kept files on everything from personal computers to cloud drives and unsecure shared drives, a savvy IT department could come in and implement an EDMS to standardize and protect this information.

Specifically, 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 across other areas of the business.

Implementing electronic document management software is also the recommended first step a company may take to kickstart larger digital transformation projects. Moving from physical to digital storage opens up the possibilities for deploying process automation solutions and gaining insightful analytics into business operations.

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.

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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Increase Transparency in Document Use & Modification

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

  • Improve Document Security

    Control information access and reduce the risk of data breaches, document loss and compliance infractions.

  • Process Customer & Public Service Requests Quickly

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

Typical ROI for Electronic Document Management


$1-5 Savings per document

Cost Reduction

40% Document-related cost reduction


Half of all companies using an EDMS system experience ROI within six months

5 Year ROI

404% ROI From an EDMS over 5 Years

Schedule a Document Management Demo

Whether your organization is looking to manage content, digitize documents or optimize document-driven processes, Laserfiche provides the document management features you need.