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Document management system (DMS) overview

Have you ever wondered what document management systems (DMS) are and what benefits digital document management could have for companies? If so, you've come to the right place! We’ll give you a definition of DMS systems and you’ll find out more about functions and requirements in terms of corresponding solutions.

Simple Definition

What are document management systems (DMS)?

According to the definition, document management systems are software solutions for digital document management. Put simply, electronic document management systems allow you to create, process, monitor, distribute, archive, or delete a document based on a workflow throughout the entire document life cycle.

Abbreviations & synonyms

In this context, the abbreviation "DMS” means “document management system“. We sometimes talk about DMS systems or DMS software.

Possible applications

The application scenarios for digital document management are endless. Here are just a few examples:

Benefits for companies

What are the advantages of a document management system?

Document management systems are software solutions that make your dream of a paperless office become a reality. A DMS also offers further benefits:

  • Saving time: You save time because you can access information more quickly.
  • Saving space: You no longer need premises to store mountains of files.
  • Less material consumption: You work with electronic documents, which means that you save materials such as paper.
  • Greater transparency: Your work is traceable which enhances cooperation.
  • Increased customer satisfaction: You are less likely to make mistakes and can give feedback to a customer more quickly.
  • Increased legal security: You can archive and delete documents according to legal specifications.

In short, you increase efficiency, save resources, and operate on a secure legal basis. This means that you can focus on what is essential in your day-to-day activities and deal more effectively with your core business. Especially in times of crisis such as the coronavirus pandemic, companies that rely on a DMS system (mobile work) also secure a competitive advantage.

6 phases of document activity

How does a DMS support the document life cycle?

When choosing a DMS system as an efficient solution for digital document activity, you need to take the document life cycle into account. You can use this cycle to check whether the chosen document management software offers all the necessary functions and fulfills your requirements analysis.

1. Creating or generating a document

During the initial phase, users create a document on paper, on a monitor or on a mobile device. Alternatively, a document can be automatically compiled in the document management system thanks to automated text recognition and the entry and processing of data from different sources.

If the document is created on a PC, software such as Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel will also be used depending on the document type. The document can then be stored in a central memory location and prepared for further processing.

2. Processing content and making it usable

In the second phase, the document is made available in the DMS system for use by other people and information is aligned, transmitted, documented, and indexed. Several people or departments can process documents together in parallel or consecutively. Revision security, versioning and synchronization are therefore important requirements in terms of digital document management. An efficient search tool, a regulated filing system, and structured data processing and access controls are also essential.

3. Distributing the document

As soon as internal preparation and processing are complete, the document goes back into circulation. Purely informative documents such as operating instructions or memos are stored, for example, in electronic files within the DMS software, whereas contracts and (automated) incoming invoices go through more complex business processes that link different departments and participating employees together. Follow-ups are also automatically scheduled and executed. The documents can be accessed from all devices.

4. Actively using the document

The fourth phase defines how users can access and use a document. Access can be set as permanent or simple, content can be retrieved repeatedly or only once, and read/write and release rights can be stored in the document management system. If changes are made to a document, it is demoted to phase three so that all the changes can be traced. DMS software supports companies, in particular with legal documents, and offers protection against manipulation and subsequent changes.

5. Revision-proof archiving of a document

In the penultimate stage, long-term, revision-proof archiving in the document management system ensures that the document is kept according to the applicable guidelines and is protected against manipulation. A DMS system stores documents according to legal specifications and deletion deadlines in a digital archive. All access to the document is seamlessly archived. The document can be found within seconds and shared from the archive thanks to integrated full text or keyword searches.

6. Deleting or destroying a document in accordance with the law

In the final phase of the document life cycle, the legally compliant disposal or deletion of a document defines the point at which a document no longer offers any benefit for the company. Digital archives within the document management systems carry out this task automatically and permanently delete a document and all associated data.

Functions of modern DMS

What does document management software need to be able to do?

Digitizing, creating, sharing, administering and digitally archiving documents: The list of general functions of a document management system is more or less the same for all software providers. The process automation performance, which can vary depending on the DMS provider, determines how automatically and seamlessly individual intermediate steps are carried out.

The catalog of requirements for modern DMS solutions:

  • Interfaces and integration of third-party systems
  • Rule-based workflows
  • Recording of structured and unstructured data (integrated OCR recognition)
  • Foundation of rights and role management including position-related redaction
  • Graded escalation management
  • Revision-proof archive with rule-based archiving
  • Indexing and automatic enhancement with metadata
  • Process monitoring
  • Versioning
  • Logging
  • Dark posting
  • Legally secure marking including meta data storage
  • Legally compliant digital signature
  • Shared basis of information through Web / Cloud-based access
  • Guaranteed provision of information

DMS support corporate processes

Why is a process-based DMS system useful?

Companies can only experience the full potential of DMS systems with a completely integrated IT infrastructure which also takes into account processes that are not paper-based. This is because day-to-day activities are determined not by documents but by processes. These processes can be optimized by process digitalization and process automation interconnecting tasks, employees and software.

Workflow Management is a crucial part of the document management system when it comes to moving as close as possible to a paperless office. The best option for a company is a digitalization platform, which combines the DMS system with BPM tools so that all processes can be digitalized.

A document management system based on software with a strong process automation focus automates both document-based and data-driven processes. Employees remain flexible and can work on a process from start to finish. This is because the workflow controls digital document administration throughout the whole company.

Introducing DMS holistically

Why can DMS systems not be used as isolated solutions?

Everyone involved should be aware that an interruption in a digital process due to media disruptions has a negative effect on the company's overall efficiency. There is a greater risk of careless mistakes, omissions or inefficient communication if non-automated processes are used. This can have a negative effect on employee motivation. It can also lead to reduced work efficiency and quality, which in turn can have a negative impact on the company's overall result.

JobRouter® digitization platform

Document management systems without media disruptions

New tools, systems and digital infrastructures are creating a highly functional, complex ecosystem that is developing all the time. One of the main requirements of a document management system is therefore that it can be connected to as many different applications as possible with minimal media disruptions. The JobRouter® digitization platform with agile document management fulfills this requirement and allows you to create a fully digital document life cycle. This is because it is only when DMS software is underpinned by a strong process engine that you as a company can benefit from end-to-end document management. Request our JobRouter® demo now and see for yourself how effective our holistic solution is.

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