Businesses from such industries as finance, healthcare, education, and others should know how to develop a document management system to handle their paperwork.

How to Develop a Document Management System in 9 Steps [The 15-Minute Guide]

Most businesses today deal with high-stakes data that should be stored safely and anonymously, as well as accessed easily, so that is why they develop a document management system. These conditions, among other things, are dictated by COVID-19, which implies remote work. One way to keep up-to-date with the company’s information is a smooth document management software (DMS). Thus, learning how to create a document management system is crucial for many businesses.

DMS is the acronym for document management system, which refers to the design and implementation of a process for handling documents in a secure and organized manner, enabling the efficient generation, sharing, and storage of data. Keeping proper records for different departments is vital for business efficiency. Reading this article from OpenGeeksLab will show you the true value of document management system development, revealing its features, opportunities, and possible challenges that you may face.

Why Companies Need to Develop a Document Management System

Storing and extracting content in your office may lead to real chaos. Some discipline measures are required. When looking for a specific doc turns into a terrible headache, it’s about time to think about developing a DMS. Otherwise, you risk facing some severe consequences.

File Damage Caused by Tech Gaps

As a rule, sales managers spend plenty of time creating presentations for potential buyers. Let’s say this person leaves for a home being fully satisfied with the work done during their busy day. However, all of a sudden, this employee returns the next morning just to find their important files missing.

If we speak about online storage, it could be the result of a cyberattack, malware, virus, or else. So, there is no way to fix their file before the presentation. Avoiding such a mess is possible – DMS is a good solution.

Stack of Papers Turns Your Worst Nightmare

Almost everyone hates paperwork. Working with documents is half the battle – storing them safely is what matters. These files are strewn across your desk and the desks of other people working for your company.

DMS is designed to leave behind the bunch of cold repositories full of accounting reports forgotten a long time ago. DMS tackles the paperwork with the help of such devices as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.

Team Collaboration Has Some Gaps

Team-building activities are great, but some types of collaboration may help unite team participants effectively. An example of such activity is updating the eBook or print-out materials. It means a well-structured doc flow for engaged users. If you cannot keep up with all changes made to those documents, you risk failing to meet deadlines.

Out-of-the-box integration with data sharing platforms like Dropbox, SharePoint, and Google Docs can make it possible to access docs at any point in the world. A DMS is perfect tracking software that captures any modifications or transfers.

When Data Security Is a Priority

Protecting personal or company data is critical in any case. From data leakage to human error, many risks exist. Preventing issues caused by these threats is possible as the document management software solutions provide:

  • secure, encrypted data storage;
  • strict audit of data;
  • recovery from disasters;
  • auto back-ups;
  • role-based access monitoring.

That is not even the full list. Help yourself prevent the threats described above by developing a powerful security strategy integrated during custom DMS development.

Strong Will to Save the Environment

Most of the modern solutions that succeed are eco-friendly. People appreciate companies that care about our planet. Following paperless principles is one way to keep our environment safe. DMS allows minimizing paper docs usage. It means saving forests worldwide. Using printers less often leads to saved energy. This graph proves that the situation with waste management is getting better, and DMS is one of the reasons.

Building a document management system allows creating a more eco-friendly image of the company. This and other methods lead to lower paper waste.

Source: EPA


Companies risk facing at least some of these pitfalls if they have no DMS. As you can see, it is a universal solution that saves your time.


How Does a DMS Function?

No matter how different DMS solutions are by their features, they still operate more-or-less similarly. Their primary steps include capturing, categorizing, saving, extracting, and distributing content. Here is how these processes look in detail.

A document management software has many features to speed up business processes, allow accessing files, secure documents, and more.

Document Capture Procedure

Allowing a user to access information quickly is the main purpose of this stage. Document management system captures, scans, and arranges docs into a single archive after physical files are digitized. Later, these files are ready for editing. Besides, users will easily find them in various formats, such as JPG, CAD, PDF, and more.

Users are able to capture all docs from any source. Should it be reports, text messages, or other data retrieved from various company’s systems, this process allows storing important files and accessing them fast at any time.

Classifying Process

Users may deal with thousands if not millions of documents. Sorting them assists with finding necessary data hassle-free. The process of sorting files is done according to specific criteria, such as the doctype, author, date, topic, and more. This feature of the management software minimizes your time and effort on the document search.

File Storage

Two types of this process are known – on-premise and cloud-based storage. Most companies today choose a digital, more secure way, meaning cloud-based storage. After two previous stages, information is kept in a single location known as a database. Keep in mind cloud security threats if you choose this way of file storage.

Several public cloud security threats exist, and document management software development is one of the ways to withstand them.

Source: CyberSecurity Insiders


If a company selects an on-premise option, its employees will not have a stable internet connection. However, cloud-based storage implies a strong internet connection. Otherwise, accessing files is not possible. The one who is held responsible for the support, safety, and backup of all files is the cloud provider.

Remember: security comes first when speaking about documentation. Thus, ensure that the document management system of your choice has access based on different user roles. It allows controlling permission to various docs manually. As an owner, you should revert and deny the amendments made during the file examination process.

Document Extraction and Distribution

Everything done before is necessary for simplifying and speeding up the extraction of content. Then, a user needs some keywords or keyphrases or filtered search to access the desired file. DMS can help with it.

Once a user retrieves a file they need, document management software can deliver docs via email messages, for example, to different workers or operators.

Except for data retrieval and delivery, DMS supports workflows. Many corporate document management solutions automate processes and make files easily manageable using different instruments. It allows for a seamless task fulfillment procedure. DMS considers whether a user wants to assign workers, schedule time, and more.

So, document management software helps keep track of all workflows associated with docs. You can easily notice any modifications in your files. Another question is what features should be taken into account while implementing DMS.


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Before Building a Document Management System: DMS Market Overview

The DMS industry keeps on expanding with each new year. By 2025, this market may achieve $10.17 billion. That is compared to $4.89 billion in 2019. Paperwork automation penetrates more areas every year because of numerous reasons, including those related to COVID-19. Ignoring this is impossible as improper doc management is frequently blamed for compromised sensitive data. Specifically, 34% of IT managers have had such information compromised because of having no internal DMS.

How should you know when and how to create a document management system? It partially depends on your business size and industry. For example, small and mid-sized companies, small and medium enterprises, and large enterprises benefit when they develop a document management system. As for the industries, most often, such fields apply this sort of software solution as logistics, education, healthcare, government, accounting, retail, banking, and legal firms. Various facts prove that.

For example, based on the findings on one survey of accounting, time spent hunting for documentation could cost consultancy agencies no less than $4000 per employee monthly. Another research shows that about 80% of all industries would like to access files on the go, which is why DMS solutions matter.

Before you create a document management system, have a look at the statistics that prove the value of this software solution.

Sources: Statista, Mordor Intelligence, Cybercrime Magazine, Market Research Future, ReportLinker

Primary Functions of Document Management Systems

Without having a clear understanding of what a DMS can give you, you may see no point in document management software development.

So, it makes sense that we start by listing the key features of such solutions. You can adapt them to your workflow, no matter what industry you’re involved in and what type of files you have.

  • Sequential file structure. A doc structure should not be complicated so that users can easily find a file they need. You may have heard about a tree-structured system. That is when an entry can be a file, a folder, or a subfolder. It is the most comfortable approach as each doc possesses an inimitable pathway.
  • A robust search engine. The number of files grows constantly. Thus, developing a document management system simple enough for file search by using different criteria is important. Criteria should include name, cluster, date, tags, and owner.
  • Customizable tagging and rules of titling. A document management system allows naming and renaming files easily. Also, DMS can help with tagging content and its authors. This feature automates reviews, ensuring the piece of content is relevant.
  • Compatibility with various platforms and devices. User experience partially depends on how compatible the software is. Users today apply a great variety of devices, operating systems, and platforms. When people work from home because of COVID-19, providing instruments for fast file access is critical. That is why document management software development matters so that users could edit and share files hassle-free.
  • Version control. Say, several workers are working with the same file at once. Version control will come in handy in this case. Thanks to it, employees can track and record the history of changes in their docs or files that occur over time systematically. What’s more, this feature allows for version rollbacks if needed.
  • Automated doc generation. Employees can develop contracts, reports, and other types of content using ready-made templates. They can also import documents with generally accepted standards. That is all possible because of file generator features. A file generator eases multiple routine processes and prevents human mistakes.
  • Cloud-based access. Having access to documents whenever you or your employees need it is essential. While some docs are saved physically, others are stored digitally. The idea is to make it possible to access files that employees need for their work fast, hassle-free. It is especially crucial during the COVID-19 pandemic when most people should work remotely. DMS solutions allow interacting with teams worldwide, saving time, money, and nerves. By utilizing cloud services to process documentation, businesses can save around 15 hours weekly.
  • Tiered or permissioned access. Some files possess sensitive data that should be stored safely. Medical experts should take care of records that contain confidential patient information if we speak about the healthcare industry. They must follow HIPPA regulations. Not all workers should freely access the sensitive information of their patients. Access should be only granted to separate castes (for example, board members). DMS allows organizing and securing docs so that only users with special access can view or edit the files. You can restrict everyone except for the company’s employees or select separate groups of workers who will have permission to view the docs. We can call it tiered access.
  • Digital signature. Electronic signatures are the way to verify your identity when signing some documents online. An e-signature completely replaces the physical signature. This feature allows accomplishing various legal procedures without attending regulatory bodies in person.
  • Integration with third-party software. To build a DMS that effectively meets the needs of the company, it is crucial to ensure that it integrates seamlessly with the most frequently used applications and enables the smooth import and export of files in all formats. If legacy systems currently in use are not compatible with DMS (or any other issues pop up), a company should better upgrade this outdated software.

When developing a document management system, it’s necessary to take care of the security measures in order to prevent severe breaches in the future.

Source: IBM


  • Creating archives for files. Businesses come up with and save a plethora of files during their life cycle. With each new year, more documents pop up, so the question is how to store them. You may need access to any of those files at any time. Preserving docs is necessary so that you can retrieve information for any purpose. Regulations change all the time. One day you may need to present documents related to your business launch to comply with industry regulations. Having an archive of all docs means you will avoid problems with missing documentation.
  • Mobile access. Despite privacy concerns, about 90% of users keep location services features on their mobile devices switched to “on.” It seems that not so many people are warned about the possible risks of opening documents on their phones or tablets. Thus, mobile access is one more vital feature to think about when you create a document management system. Mobile access has some vivid pros. For instance, it is helpful for fast tasks like a one-off invoice or contract approvals on the go.
  • Doctype or format conversion. Most companies want to maximize workflow efficiency using DMS. While building a document management system, implementing a built-in document converter is recommended. This feature is about converting multiple files in several clicks to formats that are most suitable for your employees.
  • OCR. This abbreviation stands for an optical character reader. Most legal documents can be kept in a digital format today. However, some of them should be stored as print-outs with a physical signature. So, you may add an OCR if you deal with some paper-based docs that cannot be replaced by their digital copies for any reason. OCR makes it possible to scan printed documents and store them online after that.
  • Offline access. Internet connection is not always stable. Anything could happen throughout the working day, so you should ensure that accessing documents offline is possible if you do not want the process to stop. Companies must apply document reading tools that allow viewing, modifying, and downloading docs at any moment.
  • Safety settings. From authentication to external risks, businesses should take care of security settings as protecting data is the top priority. You should think ahead about all security measures instead of facing different consequences of data breaches later. As phishing attacks account for 90 percent of data breaches, you should take care of preventing this type of threat first.

No matter which of these features you add during document management system development, mind that troubleshooting is something you will take care of in any case. That is why the safest, most reliable way to get rid of possible mistakes is to hire offshore app developers who are field experts, ready to guarantee quality post-maintenance.


Selecting a DMS Solution That Will Fit Your Goals

DMS varies in many factors, including size and areas. Such software has various pitfalls and benefits. It all depends on your business goals. Keep in mind that your staff will use DMS almost every day, so it should be as convenient as possible. Have a look at how enterprises usually pick the right DMS solutions.

The Preferred DMS Type

Think about three main types of DMS: server-based, cloud-based, web-based, or database system. If you, for example, choose a server-based type, it may mean that you are looking for a tool that can be customized and accessed with no internet connection. In case of a small workflow, a web-based DMS will do. Finally, those who value scalability most of all will benefit from picking a cloud-based document management software development.

Budget Limitations

The chosen type of DMS determines the costs of document management system implementation. On average, cloud-based DMS would cost you less than the other two types of solutions. The reason is different subscription plans (monthly, per storage item, and others).

Usability and Processing

Whether a company switches from paper to EDMS or one document management software to another, it is not simple. It requires installing, migrating, retraining, and more. However, you can choose a company that offers developers for hire to create a document management system. The hired pro developers will take care of every step.

A Custom Document Management System vs. A Ready-Made Solution

Before choosing, know that custom document management software development allows for simple integration with any adopted systems. Ready-made software does not integrate with other solutions. So, you will have to transfer the same doc copies into their content management system or customer relationship management.

Thus, developing a DMS app from scratch is the best shot for those wishing to go beyond standard opportunities. Sure, it is often a challenge, but the benefits you get are worth it.

Issues You May Face

If your business has never dealt with document management system implementation, you risk facing quite a few challenges. Not all of them are easy to handle, but this game is worth playing because of the numerous perks that an appropriate DMS offers. Read more about several threats you may face and find our solutions. Even those not new to business should mind these challenges.

Ensuring Doc Authentication

Electronic documents should remain confidential. Often, a standard sign-in procedure that involves login and passcode is not enough to guarantee complete authenticity. While working on document management system implementation, another level of doc identification is required for higher authentication.

An electronic signature is a great example of the second level of document identification. As reported by Forbes, businesses obtain up to 80% more productivity once they adopt a digital signature.

Ongoing Support and Upgrades

Constant support is often a real challenge for non-tech organizations when involved in building a document management system. You should keep on improving your system even once it is ready. Without updates, its features will become useless sooner or later. Check out whether service providers of your interest provide round-the-clock client support.


You can notice plenty of available enterprise document management solutions. The problem is commercial-focused applications target a great variety of enterprises with diversified requirements. That is why you cannot obtain the specific functions your company needs except for paying for in-package services that you will never need. Even if you can get the narrow-specialized features, they may not fit your custom system as well as processes.

Once again, you may overcome these challenges in several ways. For example, hire qualified developers.


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How to Create a Document Management System (DMS) in 9 Easy Steps

So far, we have discussed what a DMS is, why document management software development matters, industry challenges, and more. Now, it is time to learn more about developing a document management system step-by-step.

1. Assess the Current Organizational Workflow

When planning to create a DMS solution, start with defining patterns of working with your files. Prioritize docs and detect pitfalls in employee communication that should be fixed. Study materials explaining how the document management system development looks. How can a DMS solution help get rid of problems with your business?

Here are some questions that should not stay without answers:

  • How many employees do you have?
  • What are the primary communication channels within your organization?
  • How many docs do you have in a turnaround per day?
  • What are the preferred methods of doc identification?
  • How fast do the files accumulate?

2. Identify Your DMS Needs and Requirements

Think about requirements for the product you expect to obtain as a result of custom document management system development. To do so, evaluate features that your software should have. Also, analyze market regulations and other legal aspects, as well as the outcomes of data transactions.

In any case, such a solution should provide safety, retrieval, retention, and disposition of your files. These features define the goals of your project. Make a list of the primary functions along with secondary ones that can be added later. Some companies may find this stage pretty challenging, so they may contact an offshore vendor ahead to obtain proper help. At a discovery stage, businesses should clarify objectives, scope, potential weaknesses, and threats.

3. Observe the Fundamental Software in Your Company

Check out how compatible your existing systems are with the future solution. Your DMS should integrate easily with ERP databases and CRM, for example. During your custom document management system development processes, ensure that various formats like JPEG, XMS, PDF are compatible with your solution. It’s necessary for streamlining the entire workflow.

4. Hire Suitable Software Vendors

Many offshore agencies where businesses can recruit developers to help with document management system solutions exist. It is often challenging to hire developers you can trust. Before signing a contract, learn more about the previous project of a company. Check their case studies or eBooks.

Highlight various tech challenges of your business team so that the future partner you are to work with will understand what to deal with and how to troubleshoot those issues. Consult an offshore company to find out more details. Ask for their developers’ portfolios or resumes before you hire.

5. Check How Compliant a DMS Is with Industry Regulations

In each industry, they have regulations that monitor how docs are saved. For instance, in retail, companies follow PCI-DSS; in pharmacy, businesses obey the FDA; in healthcare and medicine, specialists should stick to HIPAA. Prevent yourself from facing legal issues by ensuring that your DMS corresponds to the necessary regulations.

While working on document management software development, you should study privacy regulations for your specific region.

6. Control Post-Launch Support and Maintenance

Once DMS development is over, it is not over yet, as you should provide maintenance for a solution. Implementing new updates or even features is necessary to keep users interested in a DMS. Continual improvements allow preventing different bugs.

7. Concentrate on Safety Settings

Think about limiting the specific teams or individual employees from accessing files. Maybe, setting a passcode for certain documents is a solution. Perhaps, data encryption will work better. Digital signatures are another effective solution.

8. Mind User Experience

Some employees are rather skeptical about new tech solutions as they are familiar with older technologies. Show them all benefits you can get from adopting new technologies such as DMS. During the document management solution development, the hired developers ensure that an interface is simple enough. Every worker should understand how to use the new program without any obstacles.

9. Upskilling, Education, and Training

After the DMS development phase is finished, employees should start getting proper training from developers. After migrating from one software to another, less time is required for teaching. However, if DMS is something completely new, your staff will need more time mastering all nuances.

These steps are enough to master the art of building a document management system. Follow our guide, hire professional developers, and you’ll have all opportunities to succeed.

Obtain Prompt Assistance with Developing a Document Management System from OpenGeeksLab

So far, you have all tips for developing a killer DMS to speed up business processes and enhance productivity. Proper DMS saves time, money, and effort. A business should define the type of document management software, objectives, functions, scope, and more. Selecting a DMS may impact your business performance positively. Still, this guide alone might not be enough for your purposes.

If you hire a professional team of developers, the chances that your DMS will include all necessary features are higher. OpenGeeksLab’s team provides a great range of services for businesses that hire developers. We fully take care of building a document management system, from defining goals and choosing features to maintaining software. If all benefits listed in this post convince you to initiate DMS implementation, turn to OpenGeeksLab developers to hit the ground running and help with doc management software design.

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