Document management, often referred to as Document Management Systems (DMS), is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper based information captured through the use of a document scanner.
A Document Management System (DMS) can be seen as a set of standardised practices that:
- Control the creation and authentication of documents
- Exercise version control where multiple versions of a document are maintained
- Manage storage of documents in a way that facilitates convenient retrieval of a particular document when needed
- Ensure security and safety of documents with the dual objectives of preventing unauthorised access to documents and allowing recovery from physical damage or loss of documents
- Creates the policy for archiving old documents and disposing them at the end of their life
The DMS can be manual or electronic, though the latter has such overwhelming advantages that wherever the investment is justified, an electronic document management system (EDMS) should be installed in full or part.
According to ISO 12651-2, a document is “recorded information or object which can be treated as a unit”. While this sounds a little complicated, it is quite simply what you have been using to create, distribute and use for years.
Document management is one of the precursor technologies to content management, and not all that long ago was available solely on a stand-alone basis like its imaging, workflow, and archiving brethren. It provides some of the most basic functionality to content management, imposing controls and management capabilities onto otherwise “dumb” documents. This makes it so that when you have documents and need to use them, you are able to do so. Some of the key features in document management 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
- 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,
Document management systems today range in size and scope from small, standalone systems to large scale enterprise-wide configurations serving a global audience. Many document management systems provide a means to incorporate standard physical document filing practices electronically. These include:
- Storage location
- Security and access control
- Version control
- Audit trails
- Check-in/check-out and document lockdown.
Document management, while still recognised and utilised independently, it is also a common component found within an Enterprise Content Management environment.