What is an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS)?

Managing paper documents can be challenging, time-consuming, and expensive for your organisation.
You can overcome these issues by using an electronic document management system (EDMS). In its most basic form, an EDSM is a piece of software that acts as a central repository and is used to control and manage digital documents.
In this blog, we will explore the features and functions of an EDMS, the different types of EDMS, and the benefits of implementing an EDMS for your organisation.

What is an EDMS?

An EDMS is a software system designed to manage digital documents, including capturing, storing, organising, and retrieving data. It enables organisations to manage their documents and data electronically and eliminates the need for paper-based systems.


Documents such as contracts, invoices, proposals, and correspondence can be centralised in an EDMS. This allows users to easily search and retrieve documents, collaborate on them, and track changes.


EDMS can also provide advanced features such as workflow automation, version control, audit trails, and access control, which enhance document control and help organisations meet regulatory compliance requirements.

A computer screen with folders and documents represented on the screen.
Documents such as contracts, invoices, proposals, and correspondence can be centralised in an EDMS.

The first EDMS was designed to manage engineering drawings, but over time, it evolved to include all types of digital documents. Today, they are an essential tool for businesses of all sizes, across various industries, including energy, defence, transport, and government.

Key Features and Functions

An EDMS provides various features and functions to manage digital documents effectively, including:

Indexing and Search Capabilities

Any decent EDMS will provide indexing and search capabilities to help users locate documents quickly and easily. Users can add metadata to documents such as tags, keywords, and descriptions, making them easier to find. The search function allows users to search for documents by keyword, author, date, or other criteria.

Screenshot of the Agility System showing the document management search functionality
The advanced search functionality of the Agility System allows users to easily locate documents

Version Control and Document History Tracking

An EDMS should provide version control, which ensures that only the latest version of a document is available. Users can track changes made to documents, view previous versions, and revert to earlier versions if necessary. Document history tracking allows users to see who made changes to documents and when they were made.

Collaboration and Workflow Automation

Using an EDMS allows for document collaboration, where multiple users can work on the same document simultaneously. This is often used alongside a workflow automation feature to save time through automating processes, including approval processes, notifications of changes, and routing documents.

Access Control and Security

Your EDMS should provide access control and security functionality to ensure that only authorised users have access to documents. Furthermore, users can set access permissions for each document, specifying who can view, edit, or delete them. 

By providing these features and functions, an EDMS can help organisations manage their digital documents more efficiently, enhancing productivity, collaboration, and compliance with regulatory requirements. 


The Agility System document management feature captures, manages, shares and secures information within your organisation. By acting as a centralised control it removes the chaos of folder structures and fragmented document repositories by providing a robust and secure system for all documents.


In the following sections, we will explore the different types of EDMS, the benefits of implementing an EDMS, and how to choose the right EDMS for your organisation.

Cloud-Based vs. On-Premise

The two most commonly used EDMS are cloud-based and on-premise, so let’s find out what the differences are between the two and the advantages and disadvantages of each. 


By the end of this section, you will have a better understanding of which option may be the best fit for your organisation.


A cloud-based EDMS is hosted on the cloud, allowing users to access the system from anywhere with an internet connection. Cloud-based EDMS require less IT infrastructure and maintenance, making it more cost-effective for organisations. 


Cloud-based EDMS also provide scalability, allowing organisations to increase or decrease storage capacity as needed.



  • Lower upfront costs
  • Scalability
  • Accessibility
  • Reduced IT infrastructure and maintenance costs


  • Dependency on the cloud provider
  • Limited control over security and uptime


On-premise EDMS is installed and hosted on the organisation’s servers, providing complete control over the system. This type of EDMS requires a dedicated IT team to maintain and manage the system, but it provides a higher level of security and customisation. 



  • Complete control over system and data
  • Higher level of customization
  • Greater security and privacy
  • No reliance on third-party providers


  • Higher upfront costs
  • Maintenance and upgrades can be expensive
  • Requires a dedicated IT team
  • Limited accessibility

Organisations should carefully consider their needs and budget when choosing an EDMS. They should also evaluate the benefits and drawbacks of each type of EDMS and select the one that aligns with their objectives.


The Agility System is a cloud-based document management system. Our mobile-friendly interface allows the workforce immediate access to documents regardless of their location.

Microsoft SharePoint as an EDMS

Microsoft SharePoint is another popular option for organisations looking for an EDMS. SharePoint offers document management features such as document capture, indexing, version control, and search. 


It also provides collaboration tools such as team sites, workflows, and integration with Microsoft Office applications. SharePoint can be deployed on-premises, on the cloud, or in a hybrid environment, providing flexibility to organisations.  


However, SharePoint may not provide the same level of customisation, control and security as a dedicated EDMS solution. As a result of the time required to develop SharePoint into a suitable system along with the ongoing maintenance, you should carefully evaluate whether SharePoint is the best option for your organisation.

Benefits of Implementing an EDMS

Implementing an EDMS can provide several benefits to organisations. Here are some of the significant advantages:

Improved Document Security

An EDMS can help to increase the security of documents by only allowing people who have permission to view sensitive data. additionally, it can monitor who has accessed or modified a document and keep a record of the changes made.

Enhanced Compliance

An EDMS can help organisations meet regulatory requirements such as those set out by ISO 9001 by ensuring that documents are stored, managed, and disposed of according to regulations. This can reduce the risk of non-compliance penalties and litigation.

ISO 9001 requires that you maintain control of documents using a suitable system

Increased Productivity

Organisations can automate many document-related tasks, such as document capture, indexing, version control, and retrieval, reducing the time and effort required to manage documents. This can free up employees to focus on more critical tasks, improving productivity.

Better Collaboration

By providing access to documents from anywhere, anytime, and on any device an EDMS can facilitate collaboration. It can also enable real-time collaboration on documents, improving team communication and reducing the time required for feedback and approvals.

Cost Savings

Costs can be reduced by eliminating the need for paper-based processes, reducing storage space requirements, and reducing printing and distribution costs. It can also reduce the cost of regulatory compliance by automating compliance processes.


In summary, implementing an EDMS can improve document security, enhance compliance, increase productivity, enable better collaboration, and generate cost savings. 


The Agility System utilises a full document life-cycle from initial development to archive. It allows trained in-house Administrators to automate the creation of each document, configure a sequence of notification approval and review, as well as determining document archiving. 


Our document management functionality complies with the document control requirements of the ISO standards: Quality, Health, Environmental & Safety and with our defence and nuclear clients requiring the highest level of security to store their Officially Sensitive documents, our technical team are constantly improving the system’s document security features.

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Implementing an EDMS

Implementing an EDMS requires careful planning and execution. An EDMS should be implemented in the following way for it to be successful:

Define Requirements

Organisations should define their requirements for an EDMS, such as document types, workflow processes, security requirements, and integration with other systems. This will help them select an EDMS that aligns with their objectives.

Select an EDMS

Once the requirements are defined, organisations should evaluate different EDMS options and select the one that meets their needs. The organisation should consider factors such as cost, scalability, security, and customisation.

Develop a Project Plan

Developing a project plan is critical to implementing an EDMS successfully. The plan should include milestones, timelines, resources, and budgets. The organisation should assign a project manager to oversee the implementation and ensure that the project stays on track.

Prepare for Implementation

Before implementing the EDMS, the organisation should prepare by setting up the required hardware, software, and infrastructure. This includes configuring the EDMS, migrating existing documents to the new system, and setting up user accounts and permissions.

Train Users

User training is essential to the successful implementation of an EDMS. The organisation should provide training to all users on how to use the system, including document capture, indexing, retrieval, and workflow processes.

Test and Launch

Before launching the EDMS, the organisation should test the system to ensure that it meets their requirements and that all users can access and use the system. Once the system has been tested and approved, the organisation can launch the system and begin using it.

Continuous Improvement

Once the EDMS is in use, the organisation should monitor the system to ensure that it meets their needs and that users are using the system correctly. The organisation should also perform regular maintenance, such as backups and upgrades, to ensure that the system operates smoothly.

The Next Steps

In today’s digital age, managing documents effectively is critical to the success of any organisation. An integrated document management function can help organisations achieve better document security, compliance, productivity, collaboration, and cost savings.


That’s why we developed the Agility System – a management system that includes built-in document management functionality. Request a demo today and take the first step towards a streamlined document management system.


Our team of experts will be happy to walk you through the system, answer any questions you may have, and help you determine if the Agility System is the right solution for your organisation.

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Picture of Peter Shields
Peter Shields
Peter is a Quality, Risk & Compliance expert with extensive experience working with process-based management systems in the Energy, Nuclear & Defence sectors since 1979.
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