In this article you will find a free DMS checklist that consists of key criteria that drive evaluation and selection of Document Management Solutions. While not all may be relevant to your organization today, do keep in mind that user requirements evolve as the business grows and changes.

The pandemic has accelerated organizations’ adoption of digital technologies and one of the most common initiatives across businesses is the digitalization of documents. As organizations adapt to working remotely, the need for a Document Management System (DMS) has never been more acute. But as you go about evaluating various DMS solutions, what criteria do you need to keep in mind?

Quite often, the requirements that you get from business users are not well articulated and even if they are, they end up addressing only the immediate requirements. The upgrade cycle for document management solutions is between five and seven years so it is important that you include a selection criteria that might not be obvious from your current needs.

Free DMS checklist based on real users’ requirements and industry trends

In the last 15 years we have talked with thousands of companies and experts looking for the best DMS solution for their organization. Analyzing their requirements and following the trends in the industry, we have created a free DMS checklist to help organizations select the right DMS solution for their business.

Follow this DMS checklist and there is a great chance that you’ll choose the best document management system for your company.

#1 Intuitive user interface

A Document Management System is typically used by personnel in various line functions. From HR professionals to Accounts executive, conventional departments dominate the usage of a DMS. These users view the DMS as a productivity tool – a technology that can help them function more efficiently with minimum technical overhead. As such, it is important that the DMS you choose has a simple and intuitive user experience. If users can navigate and use the system easily, the overhead on IT support reduces, making the solution an effective one.

#2 Security and roles-based access control (RBAC) with strong audit capabilities

By definition, a Document Management System is used to manage storage and retrieval of documents, many of which may be quite sensitive in nature. To prevent unauthorized access, the ideal DMS must come with a state-of-the-art security framework that supports a roles-based access control framework, commonly known as RBAC. This will allow administrators to ensure that access is provided to the appropriate personnel within and outside the organization and that there is no breach of confidential information from the system. Coupled with the RBAC framework, the DMS must provide strong audit capabilities that allow administrators to trace activities of named users and flag in appropriate or suspicious ones. A strong audit mechanism also gives administrators the option to perform causality-based investigations in the event of a suspected breach.

#3 Support of templates for repetitive tasks or rules-based tasks

We have already alluded to the fact that in addition to being a document storage mechanism, a DMS is a useful productivity tool. Also, users perform several repetitive tasks on a DMS. Therefore, it is useful if the DMS supports creation and reuse of templates that minimize user effort as they carry out these repetitive tasks. This is made possible through document templates that can be configured for use by the company as well as that can progressively be added with the help of an administrator.

#4 Workflow management

Documents in an organization are synonymous with approvals and in a physical parallel, these would be paper documents in manila envelopes, shuttling around the office for an approver signature. In the digital equivalent of this scenario, a Document Management System must provide a robust workflow configuration and management engine. These workflows could be dependent on certain rules, for example based on the document metadata or the email address from which the document has been sent. Incorporating workflows in your DMS allows for immense gains in organizational productivity, eliminating several hours of time lost on exchanging documents via unstructured medium such as emails and messaging applications. It also provides a robust audit trail on sensitive document approvals.

#5 Integration with ERP and automation of file export

Documents in an organization seldom exist in isolation. There is invariably a context to them and in most cases the context is set by transactions in the enterprise core layer, which is typically the ERP solution. A good DMS, therefore, should be able to integrate seamlessly with your ERP solution. The various scenarios in which such an integration can be realized depends on the organization’s set up. For instance, a procurement manager may want a set of documents on material specifications to be sent to the set of potential suppliers when a Purchase Order is created in the ERP system. Setting up such integration scenarios ensures data integrity with regards to documents in the organization and defines a single source of truth for organizational document data.

#6 Indexing and searchability

For a DMS that stores hundreds of thousands of documents every year, users always want a scalable and accurate search feature. This search must not only be restricted to the document metadata but must extend to the actual content of the document. This is made possible by a technology called Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which allows the system to read the content of documents saved in various formats. Upon reading document content, a robust DMS must be able to index and store this text for fast and accurate retrieval.

#7 Compliance and risk management

Several jurisdictions across the world have stringent statutory guidelines with regards to storage, archival and deletion of documents and related data. As such, a DMS you choose must provide the ability to configure alerts and workflows that inform the use of pending tasks and flag potential compliance breaches well in time so that such risks can be mitigated. There are other regulatory frameworks that require strict controls on monitoring the entire lifecycle of a document and these include detailed logs of various actions performed on documents. The DMS you choose should cater to these requirements and it is extremely important that the business clearly conveys such requirements.

#8 Desktop sync application

While we have spoken extensively of the enterprise and institutional features of a DMS, it is the users that create and edit documents. Majority of these tasks are performed on a desktop computer that runs popular word processing and other document applications. In such a situation, checking in and checking documents out can be a cumbersome task for users, not to mention the risk of forgetting to check-in a version with important edits. It is therefore important that the DMS you choose provides for a desktop application that is able to synchronize document edits with the DMS server as a passive process. This would save crucial time for your users and give a simple, intuitive mechanism for them to keep their documents in sync.


As it is evident, the choice of DMS can have several far-reaching consequences to the businesses you support – both in terms of improving operational performance of your business teams as well as helping them manage several business and regulatory risks. The pandemic has dramatically accelerated the rate of digitization and digitalization for businesses across the world and in these times of remote teams and online collaboration, it is important that you perform a thorough due diligence of your DMS solution provider. We hope you find the above DMS checklist useful.

VIENNA Advantage has a long and proud record of providing DMS solutions to customers operating in some of the most regulated markets in the world. If you are looking for a DMS, do reach out to us and we could help you make a decision that is in your best interest.

Free DMS Checklist: How to select a Document Management System?
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