What is a Document Management System and Why It’s Useful

By Doron Gower   |   October 1, 2020
document management
Many people use the terms interchangeably, but document management, information management, and knowledge management (KM) are three distinct processes. Managing all of them well can contribute to business efficiency and give you a competitive edge.

Document management is about how your organization captures, stores, and distributes documents such as papers, emails, and system-generated reports. A document management system is an automated software solution, often cloud-based, that also digitizes, tags, approves, and completes designated tasks with these documents.

Organizations that use document management appreciate the freedom it gives them from manually handling information sources as well as the security and convenience it provides when accessing sensitive information from multiple devices and remote locations.

Knowledge Management vs Document Management

It’s often said that people are an organization’s most valuable asset, and it’s true. Kris Dunn, director of human resources at Kinetix , and the editor of the popular HR blog Fistful of Talent, believes “the key to great business results is to hire great people.” A huge part of the value of great people is, of course, the knowledge and wisdom they possess.

It’s critical to capture employee knowledge in a way that makes it easy to share their know-how with other team members. Good document management is the first step in creating a KM solution that saves you time, money, and resources. Understanding the difference between the two processes is key to successfully implementing a KM initiative.

What is a Document Management System?

Often referred to as a digital file cabinet, a document management system (DMS) transforms documents from a paper-based form into a digital one. Document management functions include publishing, storage, and retrieval of those digital files. DMS software is designed to organize and classify documents using metadata. Additional functions include searching, indexing, versioning, administration, and security.

The document management process your organization uses should make finding and retrieving business files and other documents quick and easy.

Knowledge Management Documentation

Broader in scope than a DMS, KM documentation captures, manages, and shares both explicit and tacit knowledge.

  • Explicit knowledge is easy to articulate, write down, and share.
  • Tacit knowledge is more difficult to express and is best compared to wisdom. It’s the knowledge and skills someone has obtained from personal experience.

Both types of knowledge are valuable but tacit knowledge is often harder to capture. For instance, a successful sales team member can usually create a list of proven sales tactics. It’s more difficult to share specific buying signs they’ve learned from observing prospects.  Knowledge base document management enables your organization to retain both explicit and tacit knowledge, something that’s particularly useful as employees move from position to position, leave the company, or retire.

Making Document Management Accessible

A DMS works by:

  • Capturing documents from any source, indexing them, and making them easy to retrieve.
  • Building a centralized cloud-based document storage base that allows for easy management and retention of information.
  • Speeding up document retrieval and distribution so users can quickly find the answers they need.

A good DMS makes life easier and gives your employees more time to do the work that matters. And as today’s workforce becomes more mobile and/or remote, it’s a convenient way for employees to work with documents anytime, anywhere, on any device. Finally, for organizations that want their information to be as secure as possible, a DMS offers customizable security controls that ensure peace of mind.

KMS Lighthouse is an AI-powered solution designed to help employees find the information they need when they need it. It’s designed to improve its performance over time, enabling them to gain real-time insights into knowledge base assets and other resources and quickly shift gears to align strategy and operations. Best of all, it takes the burden of humdrum tasks off an employee’s plate and gives them more opportunity to grow their career and support your core mission.