What is DMS?

Those hunting for a better way to manage their office’s paperwork are often told that DMS is the way to go, but many of those people are unsure exactly what DMS is and how it can help them. In the article below, we’ll outline exactly what DMS is, the basic features and functions you should search for, the benefits of using it, and more.

So What Is It Exactly?

DMS can stand for “document management software” or “document management system.” These two phrases are used interchangeably to refer to any computer-based system that helps to reduce a business’s dependency on paper by transitioning documents to an electronic format. DMS is capable of not just storing electronic documents, but tracking and managing the changes made to the documents and helping to improve processing speeds and productivity over paper-based processes.

DMS vs Cloud Storage

Those who aren’t familiar with DMS often believe it is simply another form of
cloud-based document storage. This simply is not true. Comparing DMS to cloud storage is like comparing a personal assistant to a filing cabinet. Sure, both of them can keep your documents organized, but just as a filing cabinet can’t answer phones, cloud storage can’t truly manage your documents.

In cloud storage, documents are stagnant. They simply sit in an electronic older in much the same way they would sit in a physical folder in a filing
cabinet. But DMS actually helps you process those documents, guiding you through every step of the file’s lifecycle. From initial document creation to edits and new versions to collection of final signatures, DMS helps to automate various steps of a document’s lifecycle, whereas cloud storage merely allows you to continue with manual processes in an electronic format.

Below is a list of features and functions that set DMS apart from cloud storage.

Features and Functions

Most DMS solutions come with similar features and functions that are designed
to help simplify document workflow and offer added security to protect the documents that are being stored in the software. Here are just a few of the features and functions that you should be looking for in DMS:

  • Encryption of data in transit and at rest
  • Role-based user permissions
  • Audit trails showing who accessed a document, when it was accessed, and
    what changes were made
  • Unique user logins
  • Automated workflow to move documents on to next stages in lifecycle
  • Securedocument sharing portal
  • File versioning, with option to revert to an old version of a file
  • Action-based file retention policies
  • Profiles and templates to maintain file structure
  • Integration with popular 3rd-party software (Microsoft Office, Salesforce, etc.)
  • Full text search
  • OCR and/or Zonal OCR
  • eSignature integration
  • Regulatory compliance with entities like HIPAA, SEC, and FINRA

While not all document management solutions will have these features, it is wise to
find as many of these features as you can in the software that you choose. This will enable you to sift through the dozens of options that are out there so that you can find a system that will make your document management as simple and secure as possible.


Now that you have a basic idea of what DMS is and the features that it has, you’re probably wondering exactly what it can do for you. The potential benefits of using this type of software are boundless, but here are just a few for you to keep in mind:

Increased productivitySpend less time dealing with documents so you can focus on more important matters, like actually running your business.

Better security The security features mentioned above will help to protect all of the data in your documents; it’s a lot safer than a drawer in your office.

Decreased costs You’d be surprised just how much money you spend on paper, ink, toner, and postage; DMS greatly reduces your reliance on these supplies.

More space By digitizing all the files in your office, you can get rid of the filing cabinets used to store your documents and use that space for more productive endeavors.

Stop losing documents You won’t have to worry about who last had a customer’s file and where the copy of their contract went; it will always be available to you in your DMS.

Better accessibility You’ll be able to access files from any computer or mobile device, so you can be productive from anywhere, and you’ll never have to go back to the office to find a file.

Easier disaster recovery How would your company recover if a fire struck your office? With DMS, you don’t have to worry about losing your files to a disaster, and you can get back to business more quickly if such a situation ever does occur.

Simpler regulatory compliance You don’t have to stress about a compliance audit; as long as you’re using the right DMS (and doing it in the correct way), audits will be easy.

Happier customers – Today’s customers like to get results quickly. Features like eSignatures and electronic file sharing let you get things to your customers faster, so they’re happier with your service and more likely to give you repeat business.

Our users all experience incredible benefits that are unique to their business and their industry, but the impact DMS has on businesses is always a positive one. Ultimately, when it comes to defining what DMS is, the best answer is that it is a tool that makes it possible for businesses to grow and improve their bottom line by helping them to properly manage their documents.

To learn more about what a DMS is and what it can do for your business, contact an
eFileCabinet business efficiency expert.