A document management system (DMS) is a system used to track, manage and store documents and reduce paper. Most are capable of keeping a record of the various versions created and modified by different users (history tracking).

Document management systems commonly provide storage, versioning, metadata, security, as well as indexing and retrieval capabilities

Components of DMS:

Metadata: DMS may also extract metadata from the document automatically or prompt the user to add metadata. The resulting extracted text can used to assist users in locating documents by identifying probable keywords or providing for full text search capability, or can used on its own. Extracted text can also be stored as a component of metadata, stored with the document, or separately from the document as a source for searching document collections.

Storage: Store electronic documents, which often includes management of where they are stored, for how long, migration of the documents from one storage media to another and eventual document obsoleting.

Versioning: Versioning is a process by which documents checked in or out of the document management system, allowing users to retrieve previous versions and to continue work from a selected point. Versioning is useful for documents that change over time and require updating, but it might be necessary to reference a previous copy.

Security: Document security is vital in many document management applications. Compliance requirements for certain documents can be quite complex depending on the type of documents. Document management systems may have a rights management module that allows an administrator to give access to documents based on type to only certain people or group of people. Document marking at the time of printing or PDF-creation is an essential element to preclude alteration or unintended use.

Indexing: Indexing tracks electronic documents to keep track of unique document identifiers. It takes a more complex form, providing classification through the documents metadata or even through word indexes extracted from the document contents. Indexing exists mainly to support information query and retrieval.

Retrieval: Retrieve the electronic documents from the storage. Although the notion of retrieving a particular document is simple, retrieval in the electronic context can be quite complex and powerful. Retrieval that is more flexible allows the user to specify partial search terms involving the document identifier and/or parts of the expected metadata. This would typically return a list of documents, which match the user's search terms.

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