Document management systems help you organize your business’s files in a way that goes far beyond tools like DropBox or Google Drive. They help you manage documents, collaborate on work, and meet compliance obligations.
Many types of businesses benefit from these tools. They’re especially useful for remote teams, those with strict compliance requirements, and companies that want to go paperless.
This article will highlight some of the best document management systems currently available. I’ve included options suitable for a wide variety of businesses and industries.
Document Management System Software Comparison Criteria
When choosing the best document management systems, we looked for tools that meet certain criteria.
- Clean user interface (UI): Document management can get messy, which is probably why you want to move away from filing cabinets in the first place. The tool you choose should simplify your business processes as much as possible. The solutions on this list have clean UIs that make organizing documents a breeze.
- Are easy to use: The tool you choose should be simple to set up, have features suitable for your industry, offer fast tech support, and have plenty of resources to help you hit the ground running.
- Integrate with other tools: Your DMS software should integrate with the other tools you use. This could mean file storage platforms like Google Drive and Dropbox or file editing suits like Microsoft Office.
- Offer value for money: The tools on this list come at various price points, but they are all worth it for the right type of business.
Electronic Document Management System Key Features
The majority of electronic DMS tools, even those built for specific use cases, will have some of the following features.
- Version control: When multiple people collaborate on a document, you end up with different versions of the same file. DMS tools help you manage these versions and ensure that people always work on and share the most up-to-date ones.
- Metadata management: Metadata is all the information associated with a file. It includes details such as the author, version, and document type. This data is used to help organize and search for files. The best DMS tools automatically gather metadata from each file in the system.
- Manual or automated archiving: Tools that use automated archiving grab files in relevant locations and add them to the system. For example, they can grab all attachments sent via specific email accounts.
- Audit trails: In some industries, files must go through approval processes to ensure the company is regulation compliant. Audit trails help by keeping track of who views and approves each file.
- Scalable cloud storage space: Cloud-based tools need enough space to store all your documents. You must be able to increase your storage as your needs grow. This isn’t a priority if you choose a self-hosted tool.
The Digital Project Manager is reader-supported. We may earn a commission when you click through links on our site — learn more about how we aim to stay transparent.
Overviews Of The 10 Best Document Management Systems
Here’s a brief description of each digital document management system to showcase what each tool does best. I’ve included screenshots to highlight the best features.
docEdge is a capable DMS with plenty of features that let you monitor, manage, and control your business’s documents. docEdge has powerful organizational features where you can tag documents for easy categorization, meaning your people can always find exactly what they are looking for.
Version control is an important feature on any DMS and docEdge is no exception. The tool highlights previous versions of documents stored in the system to ensure that you and your team are always working from the correct file.
You may not want all your documents to be available to all employees. docEdge solves this issue with permissions features that allow you to give people access to the files they need.
There are three versions of docEdge suitable for businesses of various sizes. Contact the company via its website for pricing information.
Microsoft SharePoint has a unique take on DMS that is based around intranet sites. Just create one from within the app and then add your team, project, or organization.
Once you’ve created a site and added your team, it’s easy to share and create multiple types of documents. You can then set permissions and collaborate with anyone you give access to. SharePoint also comes with robust versioning features, which means it’s easy to check a document’s history.
If you use other Microsoft products, SharePoint is easy to learn. You access the tool within Office 365, and its UI will be familiar to anyone who uses these products. It also has a vast app library that you can integrate with the software to add extra functionality. You can connect with both Microsoft products like Microsoft Flow and third-party products like DocuSign.
Microsoft Sharepoint costs from $5/user/month.
Amazon WorkDocs is a DMS built on the Amazon Web Service (AWS) cloud. The tool stands out due to its security. It protects your data and helps you meet compliance requirements, including GDPR for those based in Europe, PCI DSS for the financial industry, and many more.
I found the approval workflow feature useful. Setting up automated workflows makes it possible to route files to one or more users when you need their approval on a document. You can also track and manage the entire automation process.
The tool integrates with plenty of Amazon and non-Amazon tools. You can connect with Workspaces to provide employees with virtual desktops. Or you can use the SDK to have your developers connect with the software you already use. I also like that WorkDocs integrates with Windows File Explorer and Mac Finder. This lets you access your documents as you would with any other file on your computer.
Amazon WorkDocs costs $5/user/month and offers a 30-day free trial for up to 50 users.
OpenDocMan is free, open-source document management software. It has features that are equivalent to paid tools, including granular file permissions, support for multiple file types, and change tracking.
The tool goes beyond these necessities. You can set up automated document review workflows with email notifications. There’s also powerful search functionality which makes finding documents a breeze.
The tool is free, which makes it a good option if you need a self-hosted on-premises DMS. There is also a cloud-based version that costs $79/month for unlimited users and 500GB of storage.
Dokkio is an AI-driven document management software system. It stands out by helping you manage files in multiple locations. The tool manages documents uploaded to DropBox or Google Drive alongside those sent via Gmail or Slack. This provides full visibility into file versions across all the places where your team shares and stores documents.
At first, I thought this could get overwhelming. But Dokkio’s AI features tag, group, and organize your files. There’s also powerful search functionality that lets you find files wherever they are based.
The tool has a Chrome extension that helps you search and organize files while browsing the web. It means that if you’re writing an email in Gmail and you need to add a link to a file from Slack, you can do so from within the browser.
Dokkio has a free plan and a pro plan that is $9.99/user/month. Contact the company for information about enterprise pricing.
The OpenText Content Server is a DMS for the OpenText Enterprise Content Suite. It has all the features you’d expect from an enterprise DMS.
The software works with any type of document, ensuring you can use your existing file formats. And it has powerful management features that let you create workspaces for your organization, project, and even individuals. You can also add custom metadata to all your files.
The tool has deep Windows integration meaning you can move files between your desktop and Opentext straight from the Windows Explorer file tool. You can also work directly from tools like Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint.
The intelligent capture feature is an easy way to digitize paper documents. Take a photo of a document with the smartphone app, and the tool will create a paper version of the file and upload it to the server.
Contact OpenText for pricing information if you’re interested in the tool.
MasterControl’s documents module helps users manage all their files. It handles all types of documents no matter which software created them. This is useful for companies that work with a large variety of programs and file types.
The tool stands out due to its compliance features, which it says help users meet or exceed regulations by the FDA, ISO, and more. Automated routing is key to this. The tool’s escalation and approval features ensure the right people can access and approve the correct documents. If the document isn’t ready to be approved, users can add comments and feedback to help get it up to scratch.
As with other tools, you can collaborate on the documents. The software keeps all previous versions, while making sure the latest one is most visible.
Master Control’s document module comes as part of the overall quality management software suite: it’s not a stand alone product. Contact the company for pricing information.
Arena Solutions is a product lifecycle management and quality management system. Its document management software is part of this suite of products. It aims to help businesses deliver high-quality products while meeting industry regulations.
The main aim of the tool is to increase traceability to ensure that documents have gone through the correct procedures. It’s possible to create and automate approval workflows that prove this to regulators.
Teams can use the software to manage SOPs, track changes, access previous document versions, and enforce product processes. It also has collaboration features to help streamline your workflow.
The package comes as part of Arena Solution’s product suite. Contact the company for pricing.
Bynder is a powerful enterprise content management system for digital assets. It is a great option for storing multimedia files like images and videos. It comes with plenty of features that support this. When you upload media, it automatically tags images and videos to make searching for them easy. It’s also possible to preview both videos and images within the software.
You can share files with people outside your organization using the link generation tool. Then control who can access each file to reduce the chance of unapproved content being leaked or published.
Accessing digital files from within the software is simple. You can crop images and download them in whatever file size suits you best. The Bynder UI is easy to get to grips with and there is plenty of training and help available to get you up to speed fast.
Bynder has two plans: one for small to midsize enterprises and one for larger organizations. Contact the company for pricing.
Meridian is a DMS built with engineering in mind. It helps teams manage CAD files, drawings, technical documents, and designs. It works with files created by all CAD tools so you can benefit no matter how your teams create their designs.
A helpful feature is that the tool maintains the relationship between documents while still providing access to the latest versions. This ensures people always work on the correct files.
Where relevant, you can also share documents and files with contractors and suppliers. The tool creates a trail of who accesses each document which you can use during audit.
Meridian doesn’t publicize pricing, contact the company to find out more.
The 10 Best Document Management Systems Summary
Other Online Document Management System Options
Here’s a few more tools that didn’t make the top list. These are still good options for the right company.
- eFileCabinet – Best for individuals and small businesses
- NetDocuments – Best for email management
- DocStar ECM – Best for accounts payable features
- FileHold – Best for digitizing paper documents
- Consentia – Best for managing legal documents
- Document Locator – Best for Windows users
- Content Central – Best for fax integration
- XaitPorter – Best for collaborating on bids and proposals
- OpenKM – Best open source document management system
- SAP DMS – Best document management system in SAP software ecosystem
Document Management System: FAQ
Here are some commonly asked questions about document management tools.
What is a document management system?
A document management system is software with features that help businesses manage digital documents. They typically enable businesses to share, collaborate, and organize multiple file types.
These tools are often cloud-based. This means people can access the files they need anywhere with an internet connection. Document management system examples include Microsoft SharePoint, Amazon WorkDocs, and Dokkio.
What are the benefits of a document management system?
Document management systems allow anyone in an organization to access the documents they need to work. And they ensure that all your documents are organized and easy to find, no matter how many people access them.
DMSs go beyond your typical file sharing and management service like Google Drive or DropBox by including advanced features such as granular permission settings.
What Do You Think About Cloud-Based Document Management Systems?
Document control and document storage can be done online and in the cloud. It’s time to ditch the paper documents and leap into the digital age.
So tell me: What do you look for in a document management solution? Have you tried any of these content management systems? Let me know in the comments.
Keep up with leaders in the digital project management space by subscribing to our newsletter.