What is a
Document Management System?

"What is a Document Management System and how can it help your organization?",
"Are there different types of Document Management Systems?"
and "Why choose Omnia for your document management solution?".
These are some of the questions we often get. This FAQ page contains common questions from our customers and our answers.

What is a Document Management System and how can it benefit your organization?

A Document Management System, DMS, is a software and/or process for capturing, storing, organizing, editing, and collaborating on documents and files. This can be word-processing documents, PowerPoint and Excel files, PDFs, or digital images of paper-based documents.

Storing all critical documents in one place ensures that the employees can access and work on the same information set. This centralized storage and structuring of documents serve the organization with “one single version of the truth”, which helps to reduce the amount of incorrect information, duplicates, redundant or outdated information. Furthermore, a DMS enhances findability, efficiency and productivity, collaboration, information security, and compliance with policies and regulations. Find out more about the benefits of implementing a modern DMS under the question “Which are the top 5 benefits of a Document Management System?” below.

Are there different types of Document Management Systems?

There are roughly five different types of Document Management Systems. These are categorized as:

1. Content Management. This type of solution is typically referred to as a web content management system, designed to help users create, edit, publish, modify and lifecycle manage content on an external website or intranet.

2. Records Management and Storage Systems. A Records Management System (RMS) is a solution providing for the lifecycle management of an organization’s records. The solution includes functions supporting the control and efficient creation, governance, and destruction of records. Highly regulated businesses, like healthcare, typically use RMS systems.

3. Workflow Management Systems. These systems support automated rule-based document management processes. Rules are set up for different document types assigning specific tasks to users in the workflow process. A system like this could, for example, be used in order to get sales order approvals from executives in a sales process.

4. Document Imaging Systems. In its simplest form, a Document Imaging System scans paper-based documents to images. However, with an Optical Character Recognition (OCR) functionality scanned texts are digitally converted to searchable content. This is very useful for organizations still managing various processes using pen and paper.

5. Enterprise Content Management. ECM systems take content management a step further as they incorporate the functionalities of other types of document management systems, such as support for workflow, processes, business rules and lifecycle management. They combine the capture, archiving, management, networking, and search of documents and organizations can use them to efficiently manage any kind of document or multimedia content with a workflow-centric approach. An ECM system typically includes processes controlling the creation, approval, and distribution of content as well as secure storage for all managed items, digital or analog.


Does Microsoft 365 and Office 365 provide support for document management?

Yes, both Microsoft 365 and Office 365 provide support for document management. These product suites include various software solutions, such as SharePoint and OneDrive, which can both be used for document management.

What is a Document Management Software?

Document Management Software is basically a digital solution used for capturing, storing, organizing, editing, and collaborating on documents and files. This can be word-processing documents, PowerPoint and Excel files, PDFs, or digital images of paper-based documents.

How do you store documents in the system?

Documents are either stored locally on on-premises servers or in the Cloud. There are lots of on-premises and online storage solutions and database technologies to choose from. For most organizations, the choice of storage solution isn’t the most important factor when evaluating a Document Management System. That’s the easy part. Collaboration capabilities, structuring, search features, permissioned access, security options, etc. are far more important buying criteria. However, the choice between cloud-based or on-premises storage is of great importance for your organization’s flexibility and efficiency, as well as for the security measures you have to implement.

What is an Electronic Document Management System, EDMS?

EDMS is a software solution used to create, store, retrieve, structure, share and collaborate on documents in different formats. It digitally stores original documents and enables users to manage and track documents and their history in a centralized database.

What’s the difference between cloud storage and cloud-based Document Management Systems?

Cloud storage is basically an online file server on which you can store, share and retrieve your files. Online services like Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox, and OneDrive are mainly used for storing and sharing files. Many organizations use cloud storage just for backup and redundancy. A cloud-based Document Management System, however, provides you with both file storage and the ability to efficiently lifecycle manage and collaborate on the files in the Cloud.

Document management best practices

Precio Fishbone helps companies and organizations all around the world to create, upgrade and modernize their digital workplaces. With our award-winning intranet platform Omnia we can deliver a complete solution for internal information, communication, document management, and collaboration. With its powerful integration capabilities, you can smoothly integrate both internal and external applications, providing employees with a unified digital workplace experience. Read our customers’ best-in-class intranet and document management examples to get inspiration for your digital workplace and/or document management initiative.

Is SharePoint a Document Management System?

SharePoint is a web-based collaboration and document management platform with a broad set of features for organizing, storing, lifecycle managing, and collaborating on any kind of document.

In addition to the common properties of a Document Management System, SharePoint also includes features enabling an organization to handle documents as corporate records in accordance with legal requirements and corporate guidelines. With SharePoint, you can also apply policies to each document ensuring that document-related actions are carried out correctly. This includes actions such as audits, storage, deletion, and safe protection of high-value information.

Don't miss our on-demand webinars about the digital workplace

Which are the top 5 benefits of a Document Management System?

Depending on the nature of your business, a Document Management System (DMS) that captures, stores, structures, and retrieves both digital and paper documents offers multiple benefits to your organization. The top five are:

1. Boosted findability and retrieval. One of the key advantages of a DMS is the ability to find content and files fast and easily by searching for a single word or phrase. By digitizing paper-based documents, thus making their content electronically searchable, the improvement in productivity is tremendous. Also, if the DMS is accessible through the cloud, users can search for and retrieve documents from anywhere, anytime.

2. Enhanced security and compliance. A DMS can help you increase the level of security and regulatory compliance. The system provides control over sensitive information and access to documents can be restricted at folder or document level for individuals, groups, or user roles. It also leaves an audit trail for each document enabling you to track every action, such as viewing and editing, and by whom. A DMS can also help an organization efficiently comply with standards, laws, and regulations.

3. Better collaboration. The ability to quickly create, store, find, access, and share documents in a centralized location simplifies collaboration. Especially for teams that are spread out across different locations and time zones. With a DMS teams can collaborate in a safe and efficient way.

4. One single version of the truth. If the DMS is accessible to everyone in the organization, this will create “one single version of the truth”, which will reinforce the information’s reliability and trustworthiness. Consequently strengthening decision-making processes. Also, unnecessary misinterpretations, fake news, and bad decisions based on inaccurate information will be prevented. And when everyone gets access to the same information simultaneously, organizational cohesion will strengthen.

5. Increased productivity. Gathering all documents in one place makes it easier for the employees to access and find anything they need to execute their work tasks and efficiently collaborate on projects. With a powerful search engine critical information and documents can be quickly located and retrieved, saving the employees lots of time. Faster document retrieval can also boost work flexibility, employee engagement, and customer satisfaction.

What is a Document Management Workflow?

A Document Management Workflow is the process of creating, storing, routing and sharing, approving, deleting, editing, managing, and categorizing documents in the organization. The process provides guidelines on how to perform various tasks during the document life cycle.

The workflow includes tasks such as:

  • Creation. How a document is created in the specified workflow.
  • Retrieval. How to find and access documents and what to do if a document is deleted by mistake. Are the access rights restricted for some types of documents? For whom and to what degree?
  • Editing. How are the documents edited? Does the Document Management System provide version control and can selected revisions be undone? How to roll back to an earlier version?
  • Requests and approvals. Does a new document need approval by someone else than the creator? Which actions are involved in the approval process?
  • Deletion. How are duplicates and other redundant files identified and removed?
  • Update. How do you keep the documents updated and relevant? A modern Document Management System allows you to set audit reminders for the owners of the documents.
  • Tracking and reporting. To ensure that all the processes involved in the document life cycle are working properly the workflow can be monitored using various tracking functions.
  • Sharing. How are the documents distributed and shared in a secure way and without risking that duplicates being spread in the organization?


What to look for in a Document Management System?

When choosing a Document Management System look for these key features:

  • Multi-source document input. For efficient and user-friendly document processes it’s good to have various ways of bringing documents into the platform. Besides allowing for a smooth, consistent, and uniform creation of new documents via templates, the platform should support the import of documents via for instance email, scanner and OCR, apps, and bulk uploads.

  • Permissioned, mobile and cloud access. It’s absolutely essential that the platform allows you to restrict access to certain documents or folders and that this can be done based on role, group, department, or a specified user. Having the documents accessible via the Cloud and mobile devices boosts your organization’s flexibility, productivity, and collaboration.

  • Document version control and restoration. One of the great benefits of a Document Management System is that you get full control of who’s done what with a document, from its creation until it’s archived or deleted. You may also roll back to its earlier versions and undo changes being made to it. That is if the platform provides full support for versioning, editing history, and restoration.

  • Advanced structuring and search. Tagging and indexing your documents makes the search for them considerably easier and faster. There are a number of indexing features. A document can, for instance, be categorized and indexed based on its author, version and revision, metadata, context, and content. If, for example, all product or service white papers are tagged “White Paper” you can quickly find all of them using phrase search. But just as important as the structuring options is the platform’s search functionality. To make good use of the indexing the platform must provide advanced search filters so that the users can combine different search categories in order to narrow down the results.

  • Automatic updates and deletion. Keeping the documents up-to-date and the archives free from redundant information and duplicates saves space and ensures that decisions and actions are based on accurate information. Many platforms provide good support for update reminders and the automatic deletion of redundant and outdated files.

  • Templates guidelines. This is a hygiene factor. The platform should provide tools for organizing all approved templates used for the variety of documents that your organization will create and manage through the platform. Using templates is the best way to keep your processes, brand, and communication uniform and in line with company policies. Furthermore, templates make processes and the employees’ work easier and more efficient. Omnia and similar platforms provide wizards to help users to create new documents based on templates.

  • Integration capabilities: The platform should be easy to integrate with your current IT infrastructure and applications your organization already use. For instance, your intranet, CRM, communications, desktop, and collaboration applications. Check the platform’s open APIs, which allow you to connect the DMS to different applications.

  • Multi-layer security. Keeping sensitive information safe is imperative. Safe login procedures, encryption, comprehensive backup plans, and role-based access are definitely things to look for. To ensure that only the right people have access to certain information access rights can be set based on a number of criteria: by user, group, or department. User restrictions can also be set by the folder or the document. Security is also about being able to track a document’s complete audit trails so that every revision can be accounted for.


Which is the best Document Management System for small businesses?

Many smaller companies are often reluctant to spend money on tech solutions that they believe aren’t absolutely crucial for operations. They generally think that it’s something to worry about later on when the business starts growing. But inefficient processes will only deteriorate further and cause unnecessary costs as the business grows. Document management, or rather the lack of it, is one of those processes that will undoubtedly become a headache if not addressed correctly from the very start.

There are plenty of suitable Document Management Systems for small businesses. Solutions that fit the wallet of a smaller company and have flexibility and scalability to allow the organization to expand without restrictions. Precio Fishbone, for example, offers the intranet and document management platform Omnia in a lighter version called Omnia Express. It’s an adapted solution, with a swift and fixed price delivery, for organizations with up to 500 users. Omnia Express gives you an integrated and full-featured intranet and document management platform with lots of room to grow.

Which is the best Document Management System for law firms?

Law firms handle large amounts of documents and sensitive information. This includes legal briefs, client documents, contracts, and other critical files that need to be safely stored in a systematic way for quick and easy retrieval. A Document Management System is indeed the best option for managing this information efficiently.

Although there are Document Management Systems specially designed for law firms, most modern products are just as good contenders in the search for a suitable solution. However, it’s important that the system include features that:

  • Make it easy to categorize and find documents by client or case.
  • Ensure that only authorized employees can access sensitive information.
  • Help you meet regulatory local and international requirements and industry standards, such as GDPR.
  • Enable efficient tracking of a document’s history (version control).
  • Remind the documents’ owners when it’s time to revise a document or review it for some other reason.
  • Automatically deletes or archives documents.

Which is the best Document Management System for healthcare organizations?

Every healthcare clinic or organization needs a proper Document Management System today. From simple forms to internal policies, regulations, and procedures, healthcare and document management go hand-in-hand. Medical document management involves sensitive personal records, strict regulations, and medical and organizational processes. Every item of information and document has to be categorized, stored securely, and often checked and approved by someone with the right authority. Keeping document processes compliant with regulatory standards is vital for both the safety of patients as well as the organization.

Most modern Document Management Systems have features like version control, making it possible to track every revision (and by whom) during a document’s lifetime, permissioned access, and revision reminders (as health and medical regulations keep changing). For healthcare organizations, these features are an absolute must. Another critical feature is the mandatory read option which gives you the ability to track who has read and signed a document. In some areas of healthcare and medicine, you have to prove that the entire organization or key personnel have read and signed certain policy documents.
As a lot of documents need to be approved by another person than the creator the platform should also provide robust workflow processes supporting the smooth routing of files across the organization.


Which is the best Document Management System for accountants?

Financial services companies, like accounting firms, handle massive amounts of documents on a daily basis. For companies like these, there is plenty to gain implementing a Document Management System. In addition to boosted findability, efficiency, productivity, control and security the accountants’ work, communication and collaboration processes, as well as the exchange of files across the organization and with clients will run much smoother. As an extra bonus, a modern Document Management System with built-in version control creates audit trails automatically.

To state the obvious, the time, space and frustration you save by digitizing your entire document management structure is enormous. It’s no longer a question of whether or not. It’s just a matter of figuring out how and on which platform. In addition to our general recommendations (see question “What to look for in a Document Management System?” above) it’s important that the platform you choose support efficient and secure workflow processes so that drafts, reports, legal documents and other files can be routed and approved, internally and externally, by clients and others.

Another feature you might want to include is a function that converts PDF documents to Excel and/or Word as accountants often need to extract and work on data from older PDF-based reports. If this functionality isn’t incorporated a third party product, like Adobe’s PDF converter, can easily be added to or integrated with practically any platform you choose.

Which is the best Document Management System for construction firms?

Construction companies, and their project/construction managers, in particular, juggle a vast array of documents for each project. Documents such as blueprints and drawings, permits, specs, contracts, and many other documents are needed to keep a project afloat from start to finish.

Many contractors use a mix of digital documents and paper, but the trend is leaning towards full digitalization as most organizations want to reap the benefits of having it all digitized. When all documents are digitally readable and accessible everything from the creation, search and access, editing and revision, collaboration, approval, and deletion of documents will be considerably easier, faster, and more secure.

In addition to our general recommendations (see the question “What to look for in a Document Management System?” above), it’s important that the platform you choose supports mobile access on any device as you want your team to have all necessary documents readily available when they’re out on the construction sites. If, for some reason, you think it’s best to store your files on an on-premises server, mobile accessibility can be arranged via VPN connections. However, implementing a cloud-based storage and document management solution is by far the most efficient and convenient solution enabling your workforce to find, access, and collaborate on project files wherever they are.

You should also ensure that the platform provides robust workflow processes that enable smooth routing and approval of various documents with customers and employees throughout your organization.

Which is the best Document Management System for consultants?

As a consultant, you generally manage a considerable amount of documents containing sensitive information about your customers and their businesses. These documents are often shared within your team and sent back and forth to your clients. With many customers and ongoing projects, it’s important to be able to quickly find and access all types of documents and know that the information is accurate, up-to-date, secure, and properly governed. A modern Document Management System is designed to help you achieve just that. Depending on your or/and your client’s area of business, it will also help you comply with necessary industry standards and regulations.

So are any Document Management Systems specially designed for consultants? Not really, as a consultant can be anything from a management consultant, an interior designer to an accountant. However, a Document Management System is generally very flexible so you can customize it to meet your organization’s unique needs and preferences. Omnia is, for example, an intranet and document management platform that can easily be adapted for any kind of consultant business.

Document management vs File management.

File management refers to software and/or manual processes used for the maintenance or management of files and folders. File management software has rather limited capabilities and is intended to efficiently manage individual or group files. The most common operations include opening, creating, moving, copying, renaming, searching for, and deleting files, as well as modifying file permissions, attributes, and properties. File management software allows the user to, among other things, browse, sort, and move files according to various criteria like date of creation, file type, date of last modification, size, etc.

Document management is about the creation and lifecycle management of documents, leveraging templates and tools to create digital or digitized physical documents, searching for content, collaborating and sharing documents anytime and anywhere, reviewing and approving documents, and more.

Why is file management important?

Good file management software and practices ensure that files are kept in an organized structure, making them easy to find and retrieve and that they are not lost or misplaced. It boosts efficiency and reduces stress and time spent searching for or recreating files not found.

Which are the 5 best tips for good file management?

Efficient and safe file management is maintained following these five simple rules:

  1. Consolidate and store your files in one location with proper backup routines and a redundant structure (mirrored data storage).

  2. Establish a logical file naming system using short filenames describing the content.

  3. Store files in hierarchical folders and subfolders and put related documents together, regardless of format. Avoid overfilling the folders. Try categorizing and dividing the files into different subfolders instead.

  4. Separate ongoing work and project files from completed ones.

  5. Don’t mix executable files with data files. Use the default file locations when installing application programs.


How to create a Document Management Protocol?

A Document Management Protocol outlines the rules as to how documents are to be managed throughout their entire life cycle. This includes rules for how they are created, moved, stored, protected, structured, retrieved, shared, edited, archived, and deleted. The protocol should comprise virtually every document management process and interaction with the Document Management System.

What is Omnia?

Omnia is a modern and flexible Microsoft 365 and SharePoint-based intranet-in-a-box solution. It comprises leading-edge tools for communication, collaboration and governance which help companies and organizations improve internal communication, collaboration and knowledge-sharing. 

Why choose Omnia for your document management solution?

Precio Fishbone’s award-winning intranet platform Omnia delivers leading performance and an intuitive, personalized, and task-oriented user experience on all devices. Its fully featured intranet capabilities cater to both simple and complex publishing scenarios and ensure that content is constantly fresh and accurate and that users stay updated. It provides tools for targeted internal communication, streamlined collaboration, and advanced search, all of which reduce the time users spend searching for information and help them collaborate and execute their work more efficiently. The platform also includes functionality and support for Document and Quality Management Systems, coupled with a process visualization tool (Process Viewer).

Omnia’s rich social features, like its smart templates and wizards for creating communities, can support an organization in strengthening its workplace cohesion and boosting knowledge-sharing and employee engagement. Omnia’s integration capabilities also enable smooth integration with internal and external applications, providing users with a unified digital workplace experience.

With Omnia, a company or an organization can consolidate and integrate its entire information archive, documents, processes, collaborations, and tools in one place. This will make any item of information or another internal resource accessible via a single entry point and provide the organization with a “single version of the truth”. All in all, this will boost productivity, engagement, and the organization’s ability to create a better future for itself. The platform also provides unique capabilities for future adaptation and development, backed by Precio Fishbone’s support as your needs evolve.

Explore how Omnia can help you!

Want to rejuvenate your employee engagement but don’t know where to start? Would you like to learn more about Omnia or schedule a product demo? Contact us, we’re here to help!