What is an EDMS?

EDMS stands for Electronic Document Management System.  It is a computer solution that gives its users the ability to quickly store, locate, view, edit or print documents no matter where those documents may be located.  Most EDMS solutions offer the following functionalities:

  • Capturing Information: From paper, application files, email, fax, audio, video, etc.

  • Indexing: ability to organize information using keywords or their content.

  • Storage: Information is typically stored in a central repository (not on an individual's workstation)

  • Search & Retrieval: Rapid access to any document

  • Revisions: Ability to edit and change documents electronically and create new revisions.

There are other terms used in the industry that essentially refer to the same thing as EDMS such as Knowledge Management (KM) and Content Management (CM).

What are the benefits that an organization can derive from an EDMS solution?

  • Instant Access: Finding that needle in the haystack becomes a reality.  An EDMS solution can locate and retrieve any document within seconds even when there are millions of documents in the EDMS.

  • Simultaneous access: Multiple people can access and view the same document at the same time no matter where they may be located.

  • Check-In / Check-Out: When a user wants to edit a document, that document is checked out which ensures that other users cannot also edit it until it has been checked back into the EDMS.

  • Revision Management: When a user changes a document and checks it back in, the original document is not overwritten.  Instead, a new revision is created.  This maintains the integrity of the original document.

  • Audit Trail:  Tracks and records every action taken within the EDMS such as who edited which document and when, or who deleted a document, etc.

  • Access Control:  A good EDMS will provide security features to restrict access to sensitive documents in a variety of ways such as document type, user, group, security level, and other criteria.

  • Reduce Photocopying:  Studies have consistently shown that organizations loose much productivity because users resort to photocopying files to store them locally.  This wastes time, resources and photocopying supplies.

  • Eliminate "Multiple Original Syndrome":  When several users keep their own local copies of a document, they tend to write notes and make changes on their local copy.  This results in there being multiple "living" copies of the same document which makes it very difficult to get all the information about a certain document or file.

  • Reduce Physical Storage:  Once information has been scanned or otherwise captured into the EDMS, the filing cabinets and storage boxes can be significantly reduced or eliminated.  This frees up floor space for more productive use.  Similarly, external warehouse storage facilities may also no longer remain necessary.

  • Retention & Disposition Controls:  Rules for determining how long certain documents should stay within the EDMS and how and when to dispose of them.

  • Privacy & Regulatory Compliance: Advanced EDMS solutions offer several important features that assist organizations in complying with new privacy and regulatory compliance laws.


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