In an effort to become more efficient and productive, many businesses are turning to digital document management systems. Instead of physical file cabinets and individuals storing various files on their own computers, document management systems are electronic filing cabinets that serve as a central repository for company files.
These systems store any type of file — word-processing, spreadsheets, PDFs, emails, presentations, JPEGs, etc. — and can be easily searched. The search functionality allows employees to find the documents they need in a matter of seconds. Experts say document management systems cut down on administration time, reduce the reliance on paper and improve productivity.
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How We Evaluated Document Management Systems
Tom's IT Pro is owned by Purch, which is home to several websites, including Business News Daily and Top Ten Reviews. As a company, we share data and research, and such is the case with document management systems. This gives us access to research on dozens of well-known systems.
Business News Daily and Top Ten Reviews evaluated these systems for ease of use, file cabinet structure, search capabilities, scanning options, collaboration tools, mobile access, customer service and cost. We dug through each site's research and conducted our own into IT-specific areas, such as hosting options, operating system compatibility, security and custom integrations. Using all of this information, we narrowed the choice to four services suitable for small-to-medium-sized businesses and considered how those will affect the IT department.
PinPoint Documents Now
Pros: Self-hosted and cloud options; Compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems; Open API
Limitations: Expensive per-user fees; No evening or weekend support; Few online support resources
PinPoint Documents Now from LSSP Corporation is a self-hosted or cloud-based document management system. It is accessed via web browsers with both hosting options and can be used on computers using Mac or Windows operating systems.
The self-hosted system has one-time software licensing fees of $600 per user for between two and nine users; $500 per user for between 10 and 49 users; and $400 per user for between 50 and 100 users. The only annual fee is for software updates and support, which is 20 percent of the original purchase price.
The cloud system has yearly subscription fees that include support, software updates and 100GB of storage. The cloud system costs $225 per user for between two and 9 users; $200 per user for between 10 and 49 users; and $175 per user for between 50 and 100 users. PinPoint offers deeper discounts on both hosting options to businesses with more than 100 users.
While PinPoint's cloud-based system requires no special software, the self-hosted system needs to be installed and maintained by an IT staff. The system only requires software be installed on a server and not on individual workstations. The system is accessed via your own network with Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Opera, Firefox or Safari. More details on the system's server requirements can be found on the PinPoint website.
PinPoint uses a traditional cabinet and folder filing structure. Documents are added into the system by importing or dragging and dropping them from your computer or scanning them in. You can search for files by browsing through all of the cabinets and folders or by looking for specific metadata. Plus, you can conduct optical character recognition searches to look for specific keywords.
PinPoint's dashboard can be customized for each individual user's preferences. They can select the view they like best — classic or express — and choose different quick link buttons for their favorite search and filing methods.
The system offers a wide range of features, including workflow tools, check-in and checkout options and role-based security, which allows businesses to restrict which cabinets, folders and documents employees have access to. The system also integrates with a number of other programs, including Microsoft Office, Dropbox, Salesforce and Google Drive. In addition to its built-in integrations, PinPoint allows you to create your own with its open architecture feed.
Both the self-hosted and cloud-based systems can be accessed from any smartphone or tablet. PinPoint's mobile-friendly website allows users to access, view and modify any document in the system from any mobile device.
Verdict: PinPoint is a great option for businesses of all sizes since it offers multiple hosting options and works on all types of operating systems.
Pros: Self-hosted and cloud options; Impressive mobile app; Open API; Great online support tools
Limitations: Expensive installation costs; No weekend support; Self-hosted system has recurring costs
eFileCabinet Online is available in three service plans — performance, professional and enterprise — as a self-hosted or cloud-based solution. Each service plan differs on price and the number of included features.
Rather than charging one-time licensing fees for the self-hosted system, eFileCabinet uses monthly subscription plans for both hosting options. Monthly fees are $50 per user for the performance plan and $65 per user for the professional plan. eFileCabinet offers customized pricing for businesses using the enterprise plan.
There are also setup costs for both hosting options. The implementation fee for the performance plan is $500 for the first three users and $100 for each additional user; $750 for the first three users and $150 for each additional user for the professional plan; and $4,000 for the first 15 users and $100 for each additional user for the enterprise plan.
The cloud-based system requires no software for IT staff to install or maintain. The self-hosted system, which is only available on computers using Windows operating systems, requires software be installed on your company's server, as well as on each workstation.
It has different server requirements based on the number of users. For businesses with more than 13 users, eFileCabinet recommends a Windows Server 2008/2012 SQL version; an Intel Xeon/AMD Opteron Class Quad Core or higher processor; at least 12GB of RAM; and a minimum of 30GB of free space on the C drive. More details on the system's server requirements can be found on the eFileCabinet website.
This software uses a traditional file cabinet structure. In each cabinet, you can add as many drawers as you like, and in each drawer you can add an unlimited number of folders. Files are stored by importing them or dragging and dropping them from your computer, or scanning them in.
You can find saved documents in a variety of ways, including by doing a quick search for words or phrases in your documents, or by looking for the specific file name, who added it to the system or the date it was added. eFileCabinet lets you save searches that are conducted on a regular basis for quicker access to frequently used files.
The system includes a number of valuable features, including access to SecureDrawer, which lets you electronically send confidential files and an electronic signature tool. eFileCabinet also allows you to create templates for commonly used documents such as invoices and letterheads. The software automatically files documents away based on specific fields that are recognized when they're saved into the system, and it features role-based security that restricts employees from having access to every document.
The system integrates with a number of popular programs, including Microsoft Office, Salesforce, QuickBooks and Sage. In addition, eFileCabinet's open API allows your IT team to create custom integrations.
Cloud users can log into the system with eFileCabinet's mobile app, which is available on iOS and Android devices. With the mobile app, you can view and edit any document saved in the system, email files and print documents. You can also save files to the system by taking a photo of it with your mobile device's camera.
The eFileCabinet website is filled with training videos, user guides and other helpful support materials.
Verdict: eFileCabinet Online's cloud-based solution is a great option for businesses of all sizes, especially for those with an abundance of remote employees. The self-hosted system offers a lot of value to businesses using Windows operating systems.
Pros: Uses same file structure as Windows Explorer; Homepage can be customized for each user; Open API
Limitation: Expensive installation fees; No phone support; Not Mac compatible
FileHold offers self-hosted and cloud-based document management systems. The self-hosted system is available in two plans that differ by the number of users they support and price. The express plan is for businesses with up to 20 users, while the enterprise plan is for larger businesses. The functionality, however, is the same for both plans.
For the express plan, there is a one-time $3,750 fee for the server software and five user licenses. Additional user licenses are $200 each. The server software is $4,400 for the enterprise plan. In addition, there is a $400 charge for each concurrent session, which is what's needed for multiple employees to use the system at one time. There is also a $40 fee for each registered user.
In addition, there are costs for implementation, installation and training, which range between $1,200 and $3,600. The self-hosted system requires a Microsoft Windows server and a Microsoft SQL server. You can learn more about the specific server requirements on the FileHold website.
The cloud system charges monthly fees of between $12 and $15 per user. However, the actual hosting of the system is not included. You will need to find a third-party hosting facility to store the software, which is an additional cost.
FileHold has the same look and file structure — cabinet, drawer, folder and subfolder — that's used in Windows Explorer. FileHold's homepage can be customized with different quick links for tasks like adding files or checking documents out.
You save files by dragging and dropping them from your computer, scanning them in or using the Microsoft Office integration to add Word, Excel, Outlook or PowerPoint files with the click of a button. You search for files by entering keywords or phrases into the main search bar, similar to a Google search, or by looking for specific metadata attributes.
FileHold has all of the features a business of any size needs from a document management system, including numerous collaboration tools, workflow capabilities and electronic signature options. The system also lets you assign users one of 11 different security roles to restrict the files each employee can access.
FileHold's customer support team can be reached by email or by submitting an online help ticket. Normal office hours are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, however support technicians monitor email and help tickets 16 hours a day. There is also a complete library of user guides and other support resources on the company's website.
Verdict: FileHold is best for businesses that want a self-hosted system and use computers with a Windows operating system.
Pros: Self-hosted system compatible with all operating systems; Wide range of features; Open API
Limitations: No phone support; No Microsoft Office integrations on Mac operating systems
LogicalDoc offers self-hosted and cloud-based document management systems. The self-hosted system is available in two service plans — business and enterprise — which differ in the included features and price. The cloud solution is only available in the enterprise plan.
There are software licensing and per-user fees with both options. The self-hosted system's one-time licensing fee is $1,000 for the business edition and $2,000 for the enterprise plan. The per-user licenses are $50 each for the business edition and $100 each for the enterprise plan. The only recurring annual fee with the self-hosted system is for ongoing support and software updates, which costs 22 percent of the original purchase price.
If you want your system on a dedicated server that only stores your business's documents, the yearly software licensing fee is $1,500, plus $40 per user. If you are fine sharing a cloud server with other organizations, there is an $800 yearly software license fee, plus $25 per user. Each of the cloud options includes support and upgrades, as well as 15GB of storage.
Both the self-hosted and cloud systems can be accessed from any web browser regardless of whether you are using a Windows or Mac operating system. Supported browsers include Firefox, Internet Explorer, Edge, Google Chrome and Safari.
For the self-hosted system, your server must have a 2.4-GHz 32-bit or 64-bit dual core processor, 6GB of system memory and 1GB of storage. Additionally, each workstation requires a 2.0-GHz 32-bit or 64-bit processor, 1GB of system memory, 50MB of storage space and a broadband connection to the server.
LogicalDoc's automated installer allows IT staff to have the system up and running on its own, without paying for professional installation. More details about the server requirements and installation can be found on the LogicalDoc website
LogicalDoc has a cabinet and folder filing structure. Files are stored in the system by uploading or dragging and dropping them from your computer or by scanning them in. You can find files in LogicalDoc by conducting a full-text search, which allows you to look for documents by name, author and contents inside of the file. You can also search via the metadata that is assigned to each file when it's added into the system.
LogicalDoc integrates with a variety of programs, including Microsoft Office, Google Docs and Dropbox. However, the Microsoft Office integration is only available on Windows operating systems with the self-hosted solution. LogicalDoc also offers an open API that lets you create custom integrations.
Features of the system include check-in and checkout options, role-based security, version control and workflow tools. Overall, the system offers more than 60 features.
Both the self-hosted and cloud solutions can be accessed remotely with the LogicalDoc mobile app. With the app, which is available on iOS and Android devices, you can view and edit documents, conduct full-text searches and email downloaded files.
Verdict: LogicalDoc is a great option for businesses that want a self-hosted system. This system is especially valuable for businesses using Mac computers, or a combination of Mac and Windows.
Moving to an electronic document management system can save businesses a tremendous amount of time and money. Research from the LSSP Corporation found that the average company spends up to $25,000 to fill and maintain a four-drawer file cabinet.
In addition, the typical office worker spends 150 hours a year looking for documents that were filed away incorrectly. Gartner reports that electronic document management systems increase productivity by as much as 30 percent.
In order to get the most out of a document management system, there are several factors you need to consider:
Document management systems are available as on-premise or cloud-based solutions. In addition, some systems incorporate both options as a hybrid solution.
With on-premise systems, the software is installed and maintained on your company's servers. That means all of the data you store is saved on location in your business. On-premise systems require IT staff to install the software and keep it up and running. They also require specific types of servers and computers to be run on. With this option, you typically pay one-time licensing fees for the software and annual costs for software updates.
Cloud-based systems, which use the Software as a Service (SaaS) model, don't require you to install any software and are maintained by the service provider. Cloud systems are accessed from a web browser and typically charge monthly subscription fees. There is typically no extra charge for software updates.
While cloud-based systems typically work with computers running Windows and Mac operating systems, self-hosted options aren't always compatible with both.
Some self-hosted systems use a SQL database that requires software only be installed on a server. The document management system is then accessed over the local network via web browsers, which often makes it compatible with any operating system.
Other self-hosted systems not only require server software but also software that's installed on each workstation. These systems are typically only compatible with Windows or Mac operating systems, not both.
Document management systems provide options for restricting which employees have access to which files. While some systems only limit the cabinets and folders employees have access to, others drill down to specific documents. In addition, some systems allow employers to create security permissions for each employee, while others require employers set restrictions by employee type or department.
In addition to role-based security, cloud-users want to make sure the data center where their files are stored is secure, there are procedures in place in case of a disaster, there is a backup power supply and that documents are encrypted when being transmitted back and forth.
It is important to choose a document management system that has the functionality your business needs. Among the features you might want to look for are:
- File structure: The structure should be easy to understand and flexible enough for users to create filing systems that make sense to them.
- Searching: In addition to looking for documents by title or author, you want a system that allows you to search for keywords or phrases within the content of each file.
- Scanning: The system should be compatible with a wide range of scanners.
- Remote access: It is important to check if a self-hosted system you are considering can be configured for remote access. The system should offer ways for employees to view and edit documents from their mobile devices, either with a mobile app or mobile-friendly website.
- Integrations: Integrations allow for documents to quickly be saved into the document management system from the programs they are viewed or created in, such as Microsoft Word or Outlook. In addition to built-in integrations, some systems offer open APIs that allow you to create your own.
- Collaboration tools: The system should make it easy for multiple employees to work on documents together. This includes offering file versioning, workflow tools and check-in and checkout options.
Other Document Management Systems
These are the other systems that we considered, and that Business News Daily and Top Ten Reviews have researched.