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Document Management Systems

Document management systems, as the name implies, are systems that aid in the publishing, storage, indexing, and retrieval of documents. Although such systems deal almost exclusively with explicit knowledge, the sheer volume of documents that an organization has to deal with makes them useful and in some cases even mandatory. Often they are a part of content management systems.

Usually, a document management system will include the following functions:

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Document management systems, as the name implies, are systems that aid in the publishing, storage, indexing, and retrieval of documents. Although such systems deal almost exclusively with explicit knowledge, the sheer volume of documents that an organization has to deal with makes them useful and in some cases even mandatory. Often they are a part of content management systems.

Usually, a document management system will include the following functions:

Beyond this, they may include a whole host of possible features, including multiple platform support, multiple/customizable interfaces, workflow modules, file/format conversions, etc. Prices vary accordingly and solutions should be carefully matched to organizational requirements. There is also an open source system called OpenKM that, despite its somewhat misleading use of the term "knowledge management", seems to have gathered a significant degree of popularity.

Compared to non-electronic systems, the document management systems offer reduced operational costs, improved efficiency and speed of retrieval, improved consistency, and more safety (both in terms of file backups and security measures). There are hundreds of systems out there, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The points to consider are: purchasing/set up costs, types of features, training, upkeep, ease of use etc. Be sure to assess each one in light of your specific needs and your organizational processes.


Alan Frost M.Sc., 2010
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