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Document Management Systems Explained

A document management system (DMS) or electronic document management system (EDMS) is a sophisticated piece of software used to manage digital documents of digital images. The digital images have often originated from a paper source and will have been scanned into the system. The main function of document management systems is to track, manage and store documents. Most document management systems can keep a record of versions (often known as version history, version tracking or history tracking). Historically document management systems only managed the scanned paper documents. These days electronic document management systems manage the images of paper documents, electronic documents, e-forms, emails and photos such as jpeg images.


According to ISO 12651-2, a document is "recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit". A document management system incorporates document and content capture, workflow, document repositories, COLD/ERM, and output systems, and information retrieval systems. It also incorporates the processes used to track, store and control documents.

Some of the most important features of a document management system include:

  • Check-in/check-out and locking, to coordinate the simultaneous editing of a document so one person's changes don't overwrite another's.
  • Version control, so tabs can be kept on how the current document came to be, and how it differs from the versions that came before.
  • Roll-back, to "activate" a prior version in case of an error or premature release.
  • Audit trail, to permit the reconstruction of who did what to a document during the course of its life in the system.
  • Annotation and Stamps.


Some of the obvious advantages include:

  • Increasing efficiency by removing manual tasks.
  • Archived data can be accessed almost instantaneously.
  • Filing cabinets can be removed saving precious floor space.
  • Data is far more secure, fire and flood risk, theft risk removed.
  • Significantly lower costs for document storage and supplies.
  • Data compliance and retention secured.
  • Integration to popular platforms quick and easy


If you would like to discuss the benefits in more detail and how these would relate to your organisation, please drop us a line at 

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