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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:
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.
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.
Add annotations, highlights, stamps, text boxes and more to your documents. Advanced EDMS systems also offer the ability to redact particularly sensitive information.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Organizations in highly regulated industries, such as wealth management, can retain records in an unalterable, write once, ready many (WORM) format.
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.
Secure hosting for individual files and public portals help ensure information can be shared with external parties safely and conveniently.
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:
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.
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:
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.
Choose a cloud-based EDMS and be ready for whatever comes your way, with your information always ready and backed up around-the-clock.
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.
Get a birds-eye view of how documents are being used throughout the organization and manage records using clearly defined retention schedules.
Control information access and reduce the risk of data breaches, document loss and compliance infractions.
Provide instant and secure access for clients, customers or citizens with public portals, or share on an individual basis using secure file sharing.