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Key Characteristics of Document Management Systems

Mar 9, 2017 | Blog Posts

You may be wondering: Why should I consider a document management system for my organization? One answer is they provide useful features that go well beyond an ad-hoc system on a PC or a filing cabinet. This blog post will outline a few of the common features found in these systems.

Storage of various document types

Today’s document management systems are capable of storing a wide variety of document types, including images, word processing files, PDFs, and Excel spreadsheets. In some cases, audio and video files are also supported. Having all of this content in one place makes it easier to retrieve later on.



Search capability

Many document management systems employ powerful, granular search capabilities to help users find documents and data quickly. A variety of search functions (e.g., auto-fill search, full-text search, and “looks like” search) may be supported.

Check-in/check out

Check-in/check-out enables employees to open a document and lock the file so no one can make changes simultaneously. This helps ensure that edits aren’t being made to multiple files, creating more work down the road.

Version control

With version control, different versions of a document are saved—allowing the user to revert to earlier versions if need be. This may be helpful if someone realizes, for example, a key section of a Word file was accidentally deleted.

Audit trail

An audit trail is a complete history of any activity performed on a file inside the document management system. This includes actions like creating, changing, copying, moving, and deleting documents. This feature helps organizations identify unnecessary processes, prevent security breaches, and meet regulatory compliance standards.


The flagging feature allows organizations to assign documents an expiration date. When the date arrives, the document will either automatically delete, or the user will receive a notification that it’s time to dispose of the file. This feature can be useful for compliance requirements dictating the length of document retention.


Annotations, such as stamps, redactions (blackouts or whiteouts), and sticky notes allow users to add or remove information about a document without permanently altering the original image. As annotations are simply overlays, the documents can be printed with or without the markups.


These are a few of the commonly found features in today’s document management systems. Many systems go beyond these capabilities to enable even greater productivity, security, and usability. For more information on these features, speak with your trusted technology partner.

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