Electronic Document Management Systems

Document management systems, DMS for short, are systems used to trail and store images of tangible paper documents or electronic documents. The system functions through either a computer system or a set of computer programs that do all the work. These systems are often treated as vital components of enterprise content management (ECM) systems. It is also recognized as being related to systems for workflow, document imaging, record management systems, and digital asset management.

How it first began

Although foreign to most people, the idea of software systems managing images of hard documents, be it paper or pictures, is actually old. The idea behind this kind of system began in the 1980s; vendors began to research and develop software that would manage these types of files. These systems were known as electronic document management systems (EDM).

Eventually, later developers began to focus on systems that would focus on managing electronic documents. These systems managed the files that were created and stored on a computer's local file system. Early systems could only manage proprietary formats or a very limited number of file formats.

The evolution of electronic document management systems

Continued development of EDM systems steered it towards a direction where it was eventually able to manage security, electronic documents, workflow, collaborations tools and many more.

An EDM system basically allows any organization to receive faxes and forms and save copies of it as digital images. The documents are then stored in a depository for future reference or use. One of the two main advantages of such systems is that they do not require physical space for storage, at least the digital documents themselves.

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of EDM systems is that they can withdraw documents from the depository at a very quick rate. The EDM system is responsible for extracting text from the document. The EDM system is able to retrieve files in quick fashion because of a text-indexer function.

EDM systems of today

There are a lot of EDM systems out there in the market today. One of the most common features among all of them is that they can store documents in their native format, i.e. Microsoft Word or PDF formats. However, recent trends have shown an increasing tendency to require users to store their documents in an HTML format.

Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML) is the markup language used in displaying webpages on a web browser. This requirement makes it necessary to import all documents into an html format. The idea behind such a change is that doing so will making looking for documents a whole lot easier. Modern EDM systems that rely on this method can act like search engines, such as Google, Bing or Yahoo.

Why organizations use EDM systems

Organizations spend a lot of money in labor when it comes to filling documents. A significant portion of these files are also lost or misfiled. A survey even notes how more people spend more time looking for something than actually reading what it is they were looking for. Electronic document management systems make storage and retrieval faster and more efficient, thus lowering operational costs.

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