It’s important to have an effective document management system in place, but what is the best document management software to use? We’re going to answer it by sharing some of the top options available.
- The best document management system is Egnyte.
- DocuWare and M-Files offer a platform with key features for keeping audit trails and creating a range of business docs.
- SharePoint sets the standard for workflow automation tools, but it’s complex and may be difficult to understand for some.
If you’re unfamiliar with a document management system, it’s a place to store your business documents. Prior to the digital era, paper files were the only way to keep a document management system. Today, companies store digital documents on hard drive, servers and online, thanks to cloud computing.
As a result, there are countless document management software companies wanting you to buy their product. To help reduce choice overload, we’ve used our experience to suggest the five best document management systems and software options. Let’s take a look.
For all-round usability and available features, we recommend Egnyte as the best document management software.
Google Drive offers cloud storage that doesn’t specifically target document management. While it does allow you to create, store and share documents, we wouldn’t recommend it to those looking for a dedicated document management system.
In today’s world, electronic document management is the best way to manage data. It decreases the likelihood of human error, theft and unauthorized access. Digital document management also makes it much easier to sort and access your files.
What Makes the Best Document Management Software?
Companies that create document management software try to offer quirky features that the user can take or leave; it’s a way to stand out from the ever growing crowd. However, there are certain features that must be at the core of any of the document management solutions worthy of your attention.
As we’re focusing on digital document storage, the primary feature must pertain to security. Services offering the most robust security, while putting the user first, are going to take the lead on being the best providers.
From there, you’ll need software that allows you to easily organize and access documents, while also offering some control over access to previous versions of your business documents. Once services start adding sharing, collaboration and communication tools, they’re on the right path to becoming a market leader.
- Egnyte — The best all-round document management system
- DocuWare — The best for a wide range of business types
- M-Files — The best hybrid option for cloud and on-premise DMS
- SharePoint — The best DMS Office 365 users
- Hightail — The best for users looking for an innovative user interface
Our selection of document management systems aims to offer the most highly rated products on the market, while also giving you enough diversity to find the right solution for your business needs.
As always, we wouldn’t recommend anything we wouldn’t use ourselves, so you can have peace of mind that our selection is done with confidence in each of the solutions. We have also compiled a comprehensive document management practices guide to help you use the features of the service you choose.
The 5 Best Document Management Software Options
To make your choice as easy as possible, we’re going to break down each of the five document management systems and highlight the positives and negatives of each service. Where possible, we’ll also share how much a service costs. However, some providers are not forthcoming with their prices until you’ve had a call with the sales team.
More details about Egnyte:
- Pricing: Starts at $20 per user per month. More premium plans require a call with the sales team.
- Provider website: egnyte.com
- Plenty of user control
- Strong security
- Google Workspace & Microsoft 365 integration
- A little pricey
- Would prefer more storage space
Egnyte is far more than your standard document management software. Along with providing a home for your business documents, the platform also lets you manage other business needs such as daily tasks.
While experience is a plus with some document management software, even novices will be able to get this software up and running. Egnyte has designed an easy-to-understand platform that takes a few minutes to activate, depending on how many users you have.
Beyond ease of use, the platform offers all the standard security measures to keep your critical business documents safe and away from prying eyes. Egnyte uses AES 256-bit encryption for all files uploaded to the cloud, both in transit and at rest.
There’s no zero-knowledge encryption, but the silver lining of that is having more third-party app integration, giving you more tools to run your business.
Third-Party App Integration
The best document management software doesn’t just offer a space to store documents — it also allows you to create them. The advantage of going with Egnyte is that you can integrate document creators such as Google Docs and Microsoft Word, meaning you don’t need to leave the platform to create new business documents.
With that, you’re able to collaborate with other users on documents, in real time and without delay. Egnyte has also made file sharing easy and its search functionality allows you to get to your documents quickly.
On top of what we’ve already mentioned, Egnyte has some smart automations that make the service a joy to use. For example, frequently viewed documents will come up in your suggestions, allowing you to access them without searching. You can also lock files to ensure only authorized users within the business can access them.
Considering all that’s on offer, Egnyte positions itself at the forefront of the document management software market. Its limited storage space (it maxes out at 1TB) may make it a no-go for large businesses.
However, for small or medium-sized businesses looking for the best document management software, it’s a fantastic option. You can learn more about the service by reading our full Egnyte review.
- : 1 to 10 users, price per user; 1TB of online storage. Read on for more
- : 5TB
- : 10 - 100 users, price per user; 1TB + 10GB per employee. Read on for more
- : 10TB
More details about DocuWare:
- Pricing: Contact the sales team
- Provider website: start.docuware.com
- Exceptional file management
- Great search functionality
- Impressive training tools
- Mobile access
- No desktop app for macOS
- No public pricing available
Founded in 1988, DocuWare is one of the OGs of the document management software world. With that, it has been able to develop a platform that allows companies to effectively create and manage their documents.
File management is some of the best we’ve seen, with DocuWare offering several options when it comes to categorizing documents and sorting them into a specific order. If you’re migrating your paper documents into the cloud, DocuWare offers a PaperScan app that’s free to all users. Simply scan your document and it will instantly upload to the DocuWare cloud.
One downside to DocuWare is that there’s no desktop support for macOS. That’s frustrating, as it means macOS users won’t be able to manage their documents from their desktop, instead needing to work solely through the web browser and mobile applications. We can’t figure out why desktop support isn’t available, especially when it’s already available for Windows.
Because DocuWare is feature-heavy, it may be a little confusing at first, especially for those new to using document management systems. On the plus side, DocuWare offers tons of training tools, including ongoing video training for all its users.
Plenty of Document Templates
Beyond basic document creation, DocuWare offers several templates that cover almost all business needs. Users can create employee onboarding documents, invoices and contracts, with the latter offering digital signatures for more efficient signing.
While some of the templates need a little customization, they’re all pretty much ready to use right out of the box. It’s little features like this that enable a more organized and efficient workflow for your business.
For those looking for a seasoned document management solution, DocuWare certainly gives you what you need. The software targets all types of businesses, and its in-depth training support will ease the concerns of anyone overwhelmed by what’s on offer.
Having mobile access means users can get to and manage documents on the go, and the web browser app provides a pleasant user experience. We would welcome macOS support in the future, and more transparency on pricing. However, even without them, DocuWare has more than enough going for it for us to recommend the service.
More details about M-Files:
- Pricing: Contact the sales team
- Provider website: m-files.com
- Innovative document management
- Hybrid storage options
- Reliable version control
- Not transparent about pricing
- Might be too complex for some users
M-Files aims to appeal to a wide range of business customers. At first glance, users may be overwhelmed with all that’s on offer. The reality is that once you strip away all the sales jargon, M-Files provides a simple space for your documents. The question is, is it a good document management system?
Yes; M-Files comes with all the required features that help users manage their documents. Unlike traditional services, rather than sorting documents in standard folders, M-Files has gone for a more innovative approach. Users can organize files through keywords, tags and categories. It also comes with a highly accurate search function for quick access to documents.
The service has version control that allows users to access older versions of documents and reinstate them should they wish. You can also give specific authorized users the ability to access older versions of documents, meaning no unauthorized users can tamper with documents.
Hybrid Document Management
M-Files gives users the best of both worlds. Not only does it come with cloud storage that allows you to access your documents from multiple devices and locations, it also offers on-premise storage for those who want a tangible storage solution.
By having both options, you limit the chances of losing your documents. Cloud storage ensures file access in the event of a disaster in your office. An on-premise solution, on the other hand, gives you a little more control over security and ensures your files remain intact should you fall victim to an extremely rare cloud malfunction.
M-Files certainly has all the criteria we look for when considering the best document management software. Its hybrid approach makes it appealing to those who welcome cloud storage but still want an old-school approach.
Some users may be put off by its innovative approach to file management; however, once you’ve spent some time with the platform you’ll quickly get used to how it functions. Like DocuWare, M-Files offers plenty of ongoing support, including a podcast that keeps users updated on new features.
If you’re looking for a service that comes with every possible feature you can think of, and you don’t want to compromise on quality, M-Files will likely be the route you should take.
4. Microsoft SharePoint
More details about SharePoint:
- Pricing: Plans start at $5 per user per month annually
- Provider website: microsoft.com
- Plenty of automations options
- Office 365 integration on certain plans
- Great for collaboration
- Complex to use
SharePoint is one of the leading document management software solutions. While offering standard document management, SharePoint can also serve as a company intranet. With the software, you can keep all users up to date on business processes and developments. You can also create subsites that focus on a specific topic or business need.
Each subsite can have its own document management section that allows you to drag and drop, create and upload files solely to this section of your SharePoint account. Users can add labels and tags to help categorize documents, which in turn makes them easier to find when each user accesses the subsite.
Thanks to SharePoint’s smart automations, users can program automated notifications to specific users any time a new document is created or an existing document is edited, including which users made or modified the document.
The option to “auto approve” specific documents is available, meaning selected users can authorize a document without physically doing anything. Read our Microsoft SharePoint review and Microsoft SharePoint tutorial to learn more.
Create a Workstation With Office 365
As this is a Microsoft product, users on the Office 365 E3 plan (one of the “enterprise” options for Microsoft 365) gain access to all of Microsoft’s tools and software. In addition to SharePoint, users can access Word, Excel and PowerPoint, allowing you to create documents in one space.
On top of that, users gain access to communication tools such as Skype, Yammer and Teams. This may be overkill for some, but for those looking for something more than a basic document management system, the tools on the Office 365 E3 plan will certainly make it easier to manage comms across your organization.
We like SharePoint, but we’d prefer that Microsoft scaled down its complexity or at least offered more tutorials to make it usable for the new or inexperienced user. Even those who know document management software like the back of their hand may experience some stumbling blocks, but should move past them with relative ease.
Because of its in-house integrations on the higher end plan, document creation, file sharing and communication is second to none and those looking for an all-in-one workstation should certainly consider Microsoft’s take on document management software.
|Plan:||SharePoint Online (Plan 1)||SharePoint Online (Plan 2)||Office 365 E3|
|Cost:||$5 per user per month||$10 per user per month||$23 per user per month|
More details about Hightail:
- Pricing: Free; paid plans start at $12 per month annually
- Provider website: hightail.com
- Free option
- Innovative design
- Excellent for creatives
- Unlimited storage is affordable
- Fewer features
People reading this article may only be looking for a space to store and manage standard business documents, such as Word documents and spreadsheets. Hightail offers that, but it also offers a platform that should interest anyone working with images and video as well.
Let’s begin with how it serves as a standard document management software. Hightail has opted for a minimal design that’s in touch with modern themes and aesthetics. This in turn makes it easy to sort and manage your documents, and to categorize specific projects.
One downside is that detailed file organization is only available on Teams and Business plans. However, one advantage Hightail has over the likes of SharePoint is that it offers unlimited storage across all its paid plans. This is great if you’re working with a large number of documents and users, and if you’re going to use the service for images and video.
Collaboration on Photo and Video
Hightail is a great option for file sharing, especially if you’re working with video and images. Like with documents, Hightail also lets users select certain sections of images and videos, leave feedback and offer real-time comments for other users.
Again, this feature won’t appeal to those looking for a standard document management solution, but for creative agencies that also work with videos and photographs, it’s certainly going to have value.
Although Hightail is far from the best document control software, it offers something different which we feel justifies its place in this selection of the best document management software. Its free plan also earned it a spot in our best free document management software article. It’s easy to use, and its fresh design also provides an enjoyable user experience.
Hightail does many of the basics — although we admit the other options do them better — while also offering exciting features for the creative mind. If videos and photos are your thing, and you don’t need the bells and whistles that come with the options above, Hightail may be the best choice for you.
|Cost:||$0||$12 per month||$24 per user per month||$36 per user per month|
We’re confident this article will help you decide which is the right document management software for you and your business. Whether you want cloud-based software or physical on-premise storage, all the services above will keep your documents safe, secure and easily accessible.
Before committing to one of the options, consider what your business needs are beyond storing documents. Do you want automated workflows? Would you benefit from a service with the best collaboration software tools? Do you want a platform that acts as a robust workstation and project management tool?
Read our document management vs content management guide to learn how the two differ and which one suits your needs.
In our opinion, Egnyte is the platform that comes closest to covering all user needs, while also being an exceptional piece of document control software. With that in mind, Egnyte remains our number one choice in this article.
Which is your favorite document management software? Which service should we have included in this article? Let us know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.