The best document management system software makes it simple and easy to manage your files and file systems in a safe and secure way.
This is becoming increasingly important as the concept of a paperless office is actually turning into an everyday reality, especially with the growth in remote working. This means that routine office documents cannot be simply filed in an office, and instead need to be archived online. This is where cloud storage really comes into its own, as many service providers can also accommodate document sharing and syncing for organizations.
However, a Document Management Software (DMS) platform isn't simply about archiving information securely online, as much as making the whole process of document management easier, covering everything from branded templates, improving workflows, working with collaboration tools, as well as being able to sort through sometimes technical information. And that's on top of general document editing and management tasks.
Good document management software also has to be able to work with different digital file types, not just from office software, images and designs, and anything else you could imagine previously being printed on paper, including from legacy file formats. These days it will also cater for online document e-signing software .
However, a lot of suppliers and contractors will still deal with paper, so any DMS needs to have a document scanning solution, often working as a standalone or part of an OCR scanning software package, so that any such paper invoices, receipts, or other documents can be scanned so that a digital copy can be archived while the paper version is recycled.
The paperless office has been a long-time in coming, but it's finally here for those who want to embrace it. Below we list the best document management software solutions currently available.
We've also featured the best alternatives to Microsoft Office.
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The best document management software in full:
Reasons to buy
Templafy is one of the best document management tools out there. The system aims to integrate essential office suites and solutions used by businesses on a daily basis.
If there’s one thing that can be frustrating, it’s having to create brand documents using different software. This can become time-consuming and fragmented, but Templafy can help. With it, you can create a range of files within the system and manage them from a single feed.
The software is compatible with a range of devices and uses the cloud to let you access all your documents across computers, tablets and smartphones. There are also automatic compliance checks, and you can give feedback to employees easily, too.
Contact is required for a pricing quote, and not surprisingly, the exact cost depends on the number of users, features and add-ons chosen.
Best for workflows
Reasons to buy
When it comes to document management, M-Files aims to improve internal workflows, and to ensure important information is kept secure at all times. Its customers include many large corporations such as Comcast and Yokohama.
There’s a single vault for a plethora of files, and you can easily find them by client, project, date, status or other criteria. The software aims to avoid duplication – it’s quite common to end up with two copies of the same report, or possibly more.
There is a free trial available, but pricing isn’t stipulated on the site, so you have to get in touch for a quote.
Read our full M-Files review.
Best digital workspace
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
DocuWare takes a cloud-based approach to document management. It integrates cloud storage and office automation to create a digital workplace. This paperless approach to the full spectrum of office tasks is another example of the digital transformation which is driving many processes these days.
DocuWare offers services to create a ‘cloud workflow’ when it comes to documents. It allows services to be purchased on a small scale as needed, and then as use-case scenarios are created, and reliability is ensured, the service can be scaled up for a larger deployment.
Mobile apps that can integrate into this workflow are also offered, facilitating the likes of scanning receipts on the go, approving invoices for speedy payment, and signing forms directly on the device.
While DocuWare does offer a demo and free trial, the pricing of course, depends on the services chosen, therefore requiring the prospective buyer to get in touch for a custom quote.
Read our full DocuWare review.
Best for compliance
Reasons to buy
Within big organizations, there are often processes and regulations put in place to ensure documents are compliant and follow company guidelines. But when you have a ton of files, it can be hard to follow such rules.
MasterControl Document Control Software, which is used by some of the world’s largest regulatory bodies, is document management software that addresses complex regulations and standards around the globe. It aims to reduce compliance cost and increase internal efficiency.
The system fully automates routing, delivery, escalation and approval of vital documents. It also sports a centralized, secure archive where you can store and search for business files.
There is no indication of a free trial, and pricing requires contacting the company for a quote.
Best for collaboration
Reasons to buy
If you’re looking for a cloud solution for creating documents, then you should definitely check out XaitPorter.
The great thing about this system is that it’s extremely flexible. You’re able to collaborate and work on documents with colleagues simultaneously, and you can easily share feedback with each other. It also manages all aspects of workflow, so you don’t have to worry about formatting, numbering and layout.
XaitPorter has some useful tricks on the integrations front, as well. The software can work with Salesforce, Oracle, SAS, Microsoft 365, OpenText and Dropbox. And it’s currently used by over 45,000 firms across the globe.
While there is a demo available, there is no free trial, and pricing requires getting in touch for a quote.
Best for complex documents
Reasons to buy
PandaDoc offers a lot more than just the option to fill in forms and sign docs. The software allows you to create complex documents from scratch and track their progress from the very beginning to the signing of contracts.
You can choose the pre-made templates or go with a blank slate. Either way, you have a very powerful layout designer in your hands. It’s really flexible as you can easily add videos, images, and similar as well as make a simple text document.
PandaDoc has several pricing plans with the cheapest one called Essentials, priced at $19 per month when going annually. This gets you unlimited document uploads and e-signatures, real-time tracking and notifications, rich media drag-and-drop document editor, document analytics, and a few more things.
Next in line is the Business plan, priced at $49 per month, annually. This plan adds some more goodies, including CRM and Zapier integrations, custom branding, a content library, and more. There’s also an Enterprise option for large companies with complex document workflows, and for that, you need to contact the sales department directly.
To create an account you’ll need your email, name, phone, and some details regarding your business or company. The software doesn’t ask you to create your own signature when creating the account, instead, you’ll have to find that on your own by going to the profile settings. From there you can then pick the font and color of your signature.
Apart from being available on desktop, PandaDoc also has apps for Android and iOS.
Read our full PandaDoc review.
Other DMS platforms to consider
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While there are a number of dedicated office and document platforms we could mention, not least Office 365, LibreOffice, and Adobe Document Cloud, these are more focused on creating documents and managing those, rather than managing and storing documents from multiple sources and formats. Therefore we'll continue this list by featuring some of the other DMS solutions worth considering:
Samepage is a little different to standard document management as it's more about creating a single focal point for all communications, projects, and document sharing tools. The aim is to simplify everything in a single app as opposed to having multiple software applications for different tasks. The interface is simple and easy to use, with collaboration built into the heart of it. In that regard it makes Samepage a potentially flexible solution to cover multiple needs.
Dokmee advertises itself as an enterprise content management solution, to organize, secure, and manage files. It supports a number of document formats, and also provides document imaging and data capture as part of its service. Everything can be smartly indexed using AI, with files automatically stamped for indexing, as well as rules-based routing to make storage and archiving easier, which is all done through secure hosting in the cloud. As expected, collaboration is supported, with permissions and auditing options available for easier file management.
eFileCabinet is a document management software solution that uses smart automation to organize, name, and store files according to their content. Templates are available to customize the document folder tree throughout your system. Permissions, file/folder expiration, and notifications can also be set up for file sharing and for sending file requests, all of which is done using a secure URL. General accessibility rules can also be set up according to company policy.
Abbyy are perhaps most famous for their file reader and scanning services, but they also provide a digital document archiving service which allows for the secure storage and use of documents. Access can be tracked and logged, and existing documents can be reused and edited as required for reissue. Meta keywords can be applied for easy search on top of normal search functions, and distributed easily via the web or email as required. One potential limitation is that Abbyy services are primarily built to store documents in PDF format.
We've also featured the best cloud document storage.
Which document management software is best for you?
When deciding which document management software to download and use, first consider what your actual needs are, as budget-priced software options can sometimes prove limited when it comes to the variety of tools available, while higher-end software can really cater for every need, so do ensure you have a good idea of which features you think you may require.
How we test
How we tested the best document management software
To test for the best document management software we first set up an account with the relevant software platform, whether as a download or as an online service. We then tested the service to see how the software could be used for different purposes and in different situations. The aim was to push each software platform to see how useful its basic tools were and also how easy it was to get to grips with any more advanced tools.
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Nicholas Fearn is a freelance technology journalist and copywriter from the Welsh valleys. His work has appeared in publications such as the FT, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, The Next Web, T3, Android Central, Computer Weekly, and many others. He also happens to be a diehard Mariah Carey fan!