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What is Document Management?

By Sherry Holetzky
Updated Feb 19, 2024
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Businesses and other organizations, as well as individuals that handle a great deal of information, need document management systems to file, secure, retrieve and share that information. Document management is an organized system that methodically processes, stores and recovers documents and the data within them. For hard copy, or paper documents, the process may simply be referred to as a filing system.

Document management is a more contemporary version which usually involves electronic production, storage and retrieval of documents and other files, providing secure access to those who have clearance. Aside from typical documents, such as text files or scanned copies of paper documents, document management may also include audio and video files, emails, faxes, reports, photos, fonts, graphics and other images.

Document management software was created in the effort to introduce "paperless" offices. Upon the realization that this business model was impossible to perfect, newer models began integrating both paper and electronic document management. Since organizations present diverse needs, document management systems are designed specifically to address particular aspects of sorting and managing information.

One example is the banking industry. These days, instead of sending canceled checks along with bank statements, banks make miniature digital copies of checks and print them out as needed. The bank also keeps a copy for its records. The actual checks may be destroyed or kept in a secure location for back up in case of computer malfunction or corrupted data.

Another good example is advertising agencies. Rather than using premium space to hold onto storyboards and presentation materials, these items can be turned into digital data. An entire advertising campaign can be transformed into a few files or folders stored on the computer, which can later be accessed, distributed or printed as needed.

Document management can effectively streamline any office environment. By classifying and conveniently storing information, and making it easily accessible, this process helps employees to work more efficiently. Document management saves not only space and time but money as well. Because it is so much more efficient than typical filing systems, it may also reduce stress in the workplace.

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Discussion Comments

By anon14593 — On Jun 20, 2008

what is the difference between dms and windows explorer. why do i need a dms to organize my files/folders?

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