An enterprise document management system (EDMS), refers to a computerized environment that permits the creation, capture, organization, storage, retrieval, manipulation, and controlled circulation of documents in an electronic format. An EDMS enables a user to create and manage electronic documents that can be viewed, searched, and printed from virtually any computer or printer while pages retain their original look and feel, complete with text, graphics, photos, and color.

Initially, all EDMS systems contained the following basic functions:

  • Storage repository where electronic documents are archived
  • Way of depositing documents in the repository
  • Method for locating and identifying stored documents
  • Method of retrieving documents from the storage area

The need to keep track of similar documents produced by a variety of users and multiple versions of the same document has created a host of library functions, including:

Version control and audit trail - methods for monitoring changes in the document and keeping track of multiple versions of it.

Check-in/out privileges - a locking mechanism that allows only one user to modify a document at a given time

Security - controls that restrict user access according to document type and purpose

Collaboration - enables simultaneous document sharing and multiple authorship of documents

Indexing system - permits organizing documents into related groups, such as folders or books

Free-text search and retrieval - enables rapid access to documents based on finding keywords in text

Metadata indexing - enables document workflow controlled by index data such as the author, title, date created or modified

Electronic imaging - permits information capture by scanning documents into the system

OCR, ICR - recognition technologies that enable conversion of imaged paper documents into computer-usable data

Electronic publishing - assembles and combines documents into coherent collections for selective distribution

ERM storage - large volume electronic storage media for permanent archiving of documents

Publish to Web - metadata such as HTTP and XML allows documents to be posted on websites and accessed in e-commerce environment

Needless to say, the benefits of efficiently managing documents are numerous. Those commonly cited by managers who implement DM systems include increased production from faster (and wider) file access, decreased staff requirement, fewer filing mistakes, reduced cost of paper storage, and offsite storage protection and disaster recovery.

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