SharePoint Document Management System (DMS): the Gist

The SharePoint document management system digitalizes the entire document lifecycle, from creation to archiving, improving employee performance by 20% and lowering operational costs by 55%. SharePoint DMS can be deployed both on-premises and in the cloud (SharePoint 2013 DMS and SharePoint 2016 DMS) (SharePoint Online DMS).


For the fourth year in a row, SharePoint is a Leader in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Content Services Platforms in 2020. SharePoint is now used by over 250,000 organizations as a document management system, intranet, or other solutions.


Features of SharePoint DMS

Document creation and document processing automation

➔    Capture: To reduce data entry errors, digitalize paper documents and convert electronic documents in various formats (e.g., TIFF, JPG, PNG) into a uniform readable and searchable format (e.g., PDF) using OCR software.

➔    Validation: Checking scanned documents for misspellings, missing symbols, words, and signatures for subsequent automatic correction or highlighting questionable words for manual correction by the user.

➔    Templates: Reusable templates for quickly and easily creating common documents such as letters, contracts, policies, invoices, and so on.

➔    Document collaboration in real time: Multiple users working on a document at the same time. DMS keeps track of when users access the document and highlights changes made by co-authors in different colors.

➔    Workflows: Document routing that is automated in order to collect approvals, feedback, or signatures.

➔    Notifications and alerts: Notifications about any document-related changes (e.g., creation of a new document, update of a document, completion of an approval workflow) are automatically sent to required or authorized users.

Storage and retrieval of documents

➔    Storage space: 1 TB per organization with an additional 10 GB per license purchased, and this capacity can be increased if necessary.

➔    Support for multiple document types: Multiple document types and formats, ranging from common (.docx,.pdf,.pptx,.zip) to uncommon (.odt,.ods,.xlsb,.ppsx, and 3D models), can be added to the SharePoint library.

➔    Indexing: Documents are tagged based on their content and filled-in metadata (for example, a document’s title, author, type, and modification date) to help with categorizing, archiving, search, and retrieval.

➔    Search for businesses: Search for employee records, documents, news, events, and more by name, metadata, and full text across DMS and integrated systems (e.g., ERP, HRMS), and rank search results.

Document consistency, security and compliance

➔    Versioning: Tracking multiple versions of a document to avoid duplication, accidental or unwanted changes in documents, and the ability to restore a previous version if necessary.

➔    Check-in/check-out: When a user edits a document during co-authoring, it is locked for editing by other users, which helps protect documents from accidental changes or overwriting.

➔    Backup and recovery: Documents created within the last 30 days can be restored.

➔    Restricted data sharing: Automated identification of sensitive data in documentation (for example, ePHI in health records) and prevention of accidental sharing of such documentation.

➔    Access control: Permission-based access: a user can create, upload, modify, delete, and share documents with permissions ranging from viewing only to full control.

➔    Encryption of data: BitLocker provides two levels of data at rest encryption: it encrypts all data on a disk and assigns a unique key to each file. Furthermore, SSL/TLS protocols protect data in transit.

➔    Two-factor authentication: A secondary layer of security (in addition to a password) that consists of entering a code from an email or text message.

➔    Audit trail: Tracking all document-related activities performed by users, including creation, access, modification, sharing, printing, and deletion.

➔    Policies on retention and deletion: Scheduling document retention and automatically deleting unnecessary files after a set period of time, as required by government and industry regulations (e.g., GDPR, GLBA, SOX, HIPAA, PCI DSS).

Key SharePoint DMS Integrations


Integration of a Microsoft SharePoint-based document management solution with third-party enterprise systems improves data consistency across the organization. Such integrations reduce data re-entry and document duplication in different systems while also lowering software costs (e.g., by saving on storage space in CRM).


  • SharePoint DMS + ERP – to improve cross-departmental collaboration (e.g., Finance, Production, Procurement, Legal departments) due to centralized storage of all the company’s documentation, document co-authoring and approval workflows enabled by SharePoint DMS.
  • SharePoint DMS + OCR – to convert paper documents into readable and searchable electronic documents or electronic documents in various formats into unified formats like PDF, which facilitates storage and search across a document repository.
  • SharePoint DMS + e-signature software – to accelerate document-driven business processes due to an automated e-signature workflow.
  • SharePoint DMS + LMS – to enable easy creation of eLearning materials and their centralized and structured storage as well as effective search via SharePoint DMS and arrange trainings based on these materials via LMS.

SharePoint DMS Customization Capabilities

SharePoint is a highly customizable platform that can serve as a DMS tailored to the needs of small, medium, and large businesses in a variety of industries. Additional custom tools, for example, can be created to meet users’ document control requirements. A DMS for a chemical manufacturer, for example, was enhanced with a tool for document structuring and search based on 12,000+ rules. Another example is a custom tool created for an atomic energy organization to create template-based documents and process UML diagrams.

Furthermore, the SharePoint platform has extensive branding capabilities, allowing SharePoint DMS to provide users with a distinct look and feel.

Common SharePoint Document Management Use Cases

By core functionality

Enterprise document management

●      Document capture and validation of documents in multiple formats.

  • Indexing and metadata.
  • Centralized document search across all enterprise systems based on full text , parts of text, and metadata.
  • Customizable document templates.
  • Real-time collaboration on documents.
  • Complex (non-linear, multistep) document approval workflows.
  • Integration with e-signature software.
  • Versioning and audit trail.

Contract management

  • Customizable contract templates.
  • Clause libraries and saved fields.
  • Guided contract creation.
  • Contract co-authoring.
  • E-signature software integration.
  • Full-text search.
  • Alerts and notifications (e.g., about important contract dates like milestones, deadlines, renewals).
  • Versioning and audit trail.
  • Hierarchical approval workflows.
  • Parent-child contract hierarchies.
  • Compliance check.

Policy management

  • Customizable policy templates.
  • Policy co-authoring.
  • Policy management workflows (review, approval, and acknowledgement).
  • Policy dashboards automatically updated in real-time.
  • Search based on full text, parts of text, and metadata.
  • Alerts and notifications (e.g., a policy’s approval, modification, expiry).
  • Policy knowledge assessment (quizzes, tests).

Records management

  • Identifying and registering personal, correspondence, accounting, legal, and other types of records that serve as evidence of business activities and transactions.
  • Indexing and metadata for classifying and storing records.
  • Records search and retrieval.
  • Access control.
  • Records tracking (access, modification, deletion).
  • Records retention and disposition.

By industry specifics


  • Capture and validation of physician notes, prescriptions, X-rays, etc.
  • Structured repository for healthcare contracts (e.g., payer, patient contracts), lab test results, ultrasound and PET scans, MRIs, and more.
  • Customizable document templates (e.g., hospital admission forms, patient consent forms).
  • Full-text and metadata document search across the healthcare DMS and integrated systems.
  • Automated document workflows (e.g., approval of a patient’s discharge).
  • Strong security features (access control, versioning, audit trail, etc.).
  • HIPAA compliance.

Legal services

  • Document capture and validation (court minutes and orders, affidavits, copyright papers, etc.).
  • Document templates (e.g., a power of attorney, a will, a lease agreement).
  • Real-time collaboration on documents.
  • Document tagging.
  • Advanced search and eDiscovery (e.g., enterprise search, search filters and refiners, user-targeted search based on a lawyer’s profile and search history, search suggestions).
  • Alerts and notifications (e.g., meetings, case milestones or deadlines).
  • Document workflow automation.
  • E-signature integration.
  • Security and compliance with internal and government regulations (e.g., GDPR).



  • Document capture (e.g., scientific project proposal, experiment proposal and lab report forms).
  • Structured storage of scientific documentation (e.g., patents, research publications),
  • Document templates e.g. scientific papers, experiment documentation).
  • Real-time collaboration on documents.
  • Advanced search across the repository based on full text, parts of text, and metadata.
  • Document archiving.
  • Document security (data encryption, multifactor authentication, permission-based access, audit trail, etc.).

SharePoint DMS: Typical Implementation Roadmap

  1. Analyzing document-driven business processes, transforming document management needs into technical requirements, and creating specifications for a SharePoint DMS solution.
  2. Document workflow analysis and design (e.g., approval, e-signature workflows).
  3. Workflow customization in SharePoint or development of custom workflows.
  4. SharePoint DMS UI and UX customization.
  5. Integration of SharePoint DMS with required software (e.g., ERP, LMS, HRMS).
  6. Solution deployment, including data mapping and migration from the former document management solution to SharePoint DMS.
  7. QA and user acceptance testing.
  8. Post-implementation support and evolution.

Using SharePoint for Document Management: Pros and Cons



  • SharePoint Online DMS scalability to accommodate an increasing number of documents, making it equally viable for small, mid-size, and large businesses.
  • SharePoint can be customized to meet industry and company-specific document management needs.
  • Documents are accessible 24 hours a day, seven days a week from any device and location with internet access, as well as offline access with subsequent synchronization to the cloud.
  • Due to the ability to create workflows of any structure and complexity, the document lifecycle can be fully automated.
  • Integration with other Office 365 services (e.g., Teams, Outlook, Exchange, OneDrive, Power Automate) and document processing tools out of the box (e.g., Word, PowerPoint).


  • When permissions are assigned to user roles based on their activities (e.g., users who can view and edit contracts are granted the role of Editor), there is no out-of-the-box role-based personalization, which can be mitigated through customization.
  • Out of the box, the UI and UX are unintuitive and require significant customization.
  • SharePoint customization (for example, deploying custom master pages or web parts) necessitates the expertise of SharePoint professionals.
  • SharePoint DMS has a limited number of stored document versions. Also, you can’t open two document versions in SharePoint at the same time to compare them, so you’ll need Microsoft Word for this.
  • A steep learning curve for non-technical users necessitates user training.

The Choice is Yours!

A growing business must establish a secure Document Management System as early in its life cycle as possible in order to operate effectively. It should ideally run on a stable platform and offer comprehensive task functionality, such as an intuitive, configurable dashboard that sits above the database. The platform must be able to scale with the business, responding to your changing needs. Your DMS should add structure and organization to your product development process, making regulatory compliance easier, ISO certification easier to obtain, and audits less difficult. Above all, it should allow you to concentrate on your business objectives rather than distract you with an ever-expanding list of performance issues.







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