What is now subsumed under the broader umbrella of a content management system? A document management system entails the collection, storage, curation and version control of documents stored, recorded and tracked. It simply puts into technical terms a paper workflow that has been around for years. In essence, a document management system (short: dms) outlines the need for organizations to be able to control and manage shared documents internally. There are a couple of ways and processes to do so, using software and techniques that are best practices and the body of this forms this system. In a broader way you can see different software approaches as offline dms (where documents are stored inside the customer premises) or modern online document management systems where the files are stored using centralized cloud resources.
Inside your personal DMS
Once a document is created and stored inside a dms, it should be able to be archived and accessed and modified by anyone within a given group and the proper permissions. These modifications should also be stored so that they are later able to be accessed and “audited”. Changes tracked should be displayed in a visual way so that auditing between versions can happen with ease. And, furthermore, the multiple iterations of a document undergoing changes should act like a “backup” that can be restored in the current at any time, upon the user’s determination.
Online Document Management vs offline-DMS
This auditing trail helps to keep a document current and effective but also, essentially, allows a large number of individuals to be coordinated when working simultaneously upon a project. So, besides simply archiving several versions and leaving a “trail”, this also means incorporating such functions as locked editing for when a document is being handled or edited by one user and is thus locked to other users until the changes have been made and saved and the user has exited. Annotations and stamps should exist in order for several users to communicate over the audited changes within the document, remark and mark up for future use as well as version control that demarcates exactly how and where a document differs from its previous incarnation.
Instead of storing critical documents like contracts, proposals, agreements and technical papers on individual USBs, network drives or a local hard drive, a robust document (or content) management system stores the document within software that accounts for all these changes and functions and makes available the document to several users at once. It’s a time-tested way to coordinate content creation and production efforts efficiently.
Today, it’s important to employ a system that is extensible and has features built in that would allow for the coordination of documents and users with each other through the use of wikis and calendars as well as third party APIs that can integrate with existing software (such as CRM or ERP). Running a tight ship successfully is what a well-designed dms can handle.
You’ll find more examples of software vendors for document management in this extensive list.