Top 8 Small Business Document Management Software for 2022 (Industry Best Picks)

Mariam Ispiryan • June 13, 2022 • 14 min read

You shouldn’t have to dig around in your Google Drive to find important business documents.


When your team is drowning in disorganized files on your personal drives or (worse) you’re using a paper filing system—you need to invest in a small business document management system (DMS). It’s the best way to get your files in order and share data with the right people without fearing a security breach.


So how do you find the perfect solution for your business? 


If you need a DMS but don’t know which to choose, or even which features to look for, this article will break it down. First, we’ll discuss the importance of investing in the right document management system for you. Then, we’ll detail the features, pricing, and main drawback of the 8 most popular tools on the market.


Want to jump ahead to get the answers you need? Use the links below to navigate through this article.


  1. Why small businesses need a document management system
  2. What to look for in document management software
  3. 8 Best document management systems for your small business

4. Our top picks for small business document management software


Disorganized documents weighing you down?

Softr makes it easy to build internal tools to keep your documents secure, indexed, and accessible.

Why small businesses need a document management system


As a small business, the #1 advantage you have over your competition is how efficient you can be. But simply storing your data on your desktop, and hoping you’ll find what you need when you need it, isn’t the revolutionary practice that’s going to get you there. A DMS can help you go paperless without worrying about the organizational and security risks of having loose files on your personal drives.

Here’s why you need a document management system: 

  1. Organization. Saving your documents is important, but being able to find them when you need them is better. A DMS ensures that your documents are organized, indexed, and searchable. 
  2. Security. 7 out of 10 organizations suffered a public cloud security breach in 2020 and the numbers just look worse every passing year. If you’re one of the small businesses that store documents on the Drive without encryption and user permissions, consider switching to a DMS.
  3. Productivity. Companies face an overall staff productivity loss due to document issues. If your team is busy retrieving old documents that exist in a small corner of an ex-employee's work folder, productivity is bound to go down.
  4. Access. Without DMS, it’s next to impossible to manage permissions inside your documents. Lack of control over who gets to see what can invite a lot of trouble.


gated content

Softr’s gated content lets users set page-level and block-level visibility rules to control who has access to what.



5. Collaboration. Working on static documents and sharing them by email is outdated and makes version control impossible. A good DMS will make it easy to track changes and allow multiple colleagues to collaborate on your documents in real-time.

6. Document recovery. An email can be lost, a file misplaced and a document forgotten, but with DMS, your data is always easy to find and back up. 


What to look for in document management software?


When investing in your next DMS, look out for these features:


  • Security. Two-factor authentication, advanced permission controls, and server-side authentication are features that help your data remain secure. Security should be your #1 priority when looking for document management software. 
  • Permission control. A DMS should allow you to manage permissions on the documents you share. This way, you have control over who gets access to what, and your documents keep protected. An excellent DMS also lets you add page-level and section-level visibility and editing rules. 
  • Collaboration. Ideally, your internal tools should let you collaborate in real-time with multiple users without fearing security breaches and complicated email cycles. 
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR). A robust OCR is a must for any good DMS. A good OCR essentially helps you scan your documents and move them to the central hub. A faulty or substandard OCR means that 100% of the information does not get scanned and you end up with patchy, incomplete documents. 
  • In-built editor. Usually, a DMS should let you edit documents on-page without having to download them and edit them on a third-party text editor. However, it’s not a feature that sets apart a good DMS from a bad one, so don’t fret if your DMS doesn’t offer this feature. 
  • Version control. Version control helps you track who on the team edited the document last and how. This way, you’ll be aware of the document progression and can always restore the previous version if need be.


8 Best document management systems for your small business


While there are a bunch of document management systems out there, the following 8 are the most efficient and popular ones on the market right now. You can find their features, pricing, and drawbacks listed below.

Softr (powered by Airtable)


Softr is a fuss-free no-code platform that lets you custom-create internal tools like client portals to support your business operations. With Softr, you can take your Airtable database and easily build a totally user-friendly interface on top of it, even if you have no data engineers on your team.

softr homepage

Softr is a no-code, easy-to-use tool that turns your Airtable databases into powerful web apps and client portals.



Using Airtable+Softr as your DMS, you’ll be able to manage forms, collaborate easily with stakeholders, upload spreadsheets, and integrate with your favorite communication tools (like Gmail or Slack). Airtable also offers features like workflow management, asset management, metadata management, notifications, and version control.


Features

  • Custom API integration
  • Advanced user access settings
  • Built-in profile management
  • Member-only content
  • Advanced permissions
  • Easy user accounts and sync
  • Custom user profiles
  • Dynamic search, filtering, sorting
  • Gated content - block level and page level visibility rules


Pricing 

  • Offers free trial? Yes


Yearly: 

  • Free!
  • Starter: $24/mo
  • Professional: $65/mo
  • Business $165/mo


Monthly: 

  • Free!
  • Starter: $29/mo
  • Professional: $79/mo
  • Business $199/mo


Drawbacks

Airtable doesn’t offer features like eSignature, on-page document editing, and file conversion.


Some users also find the Airtable UI complicated. But Softr solves that problem for you. When you use Softr with Airtable, it becomes easy to create internal tools like a client portal that every stakeholder will find intuitive to navigate, particularly if you use the client portal template.


Best for: 

Independent creators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses.

Disorganized documents weighing you down?

Softr makes it easy to build internal tools to keep your documents secure, indexed, and accessible.

DocuWare 


DocuWare is a digital document management and workflow automation tool founded in 1988. It happens to be the leading document and content management system on the market used by 15000+ people. DocuWare offers an easy-to-use web interface and powerful scanning tools.

docuwave homepage

DocuWare is a digital document management and workflow automation tool that allows you to edit or annotate documents directly within the platform.



Features

  • Intelligent indexing
  • Edit or annotate directly on the platform
  • Integrations with 500+ applications
  • Electronic signature and forms
  • Compliance tracking
  • File recovery
  • Robust optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Available in 16+ languages


Pricing

  • Offers free trial? Yes
  • Basic plan: $300/mo (4 users + 20GB storage)
  • No pricing details on the website, because pricing depends on the user's needs and configurations. Get in touch to get a quote.


Drawbacks

While DocuWare’s interface is intuitive and user-friendly, it offers limited resources to help users familiarize themselves with the environment. The training provided is lackluster and the support is often slow. 


DocuWare’s OCR fails to capture the entirety of the information on the document on occasion and doesn’t offer file-type conversion


Best for 

Large enterprises

Microsoft SharePoint


Microsoft SharePoint, designed to empower teamwork and seamless collaboration, happens to be the top pick for teams that value-efficient collaboration. Available as a standalone product or as part of the Office 365 suite, Microsoft SharePoint offers users substantial security and customer support.

Microsoft Sharepoint homepage

Microsoft SharePoint is a document management system that sits within the Office 365 suite.




Features

  • Integrations with other Microsoft products
  • Highly customizable
  • Project Syntex
  • Large file support
  • Document library accessibility
  • Custom metadata fields
  • Drag and drop functionality 


Pricing

  • Offers free trial? Yes (if you have Office 365 account)
  • Plan 1: $5 user/mo
  • Plan 2: $10 user/mo
  • Office 365 E3: $23 user/mo



Drawbacks

To max out SharePoint’s potential, companies need to customize the solution according to their needs. Some level of expertise is also required, which can drive up costs for small businesses. For most users, SharePoint has a steep learning curve that can prove to be time-consuming.


Best for 

Medium to large enterprises

M-Files


M-Files offers industry-specific solutions for your business, leveraging AI technology to automate organization. Its cutting-edge technology and security are what sets it apart from others on the list. 

M-Files homepage

M-Files is an intelligent information management tool that ensures the right content gets to the right person at exactly the right time.




Features

  • Industry-specific solutions
  • Highly customizable
  • Search based on multiple attributes and tags
  • Metadata suggestions
  • Integration with Parashift
  • Access control


Pricing

  • Offers free trial? Yes 
  • Offers only custom solutions, so you’ll need to request a quote.


Drawbacks

M-Files only offers customizable solutions so it’s hard to gauge the cost for a small business. The user interface can prove to be complicated for non-tech users and the check-in/check-out features require additional tasks. You'll also need a really strong internet connection to avoid synchronization issues.


Best for 

Medium to large tech enterprises

Templafy


Launched in 2014, Templafy is a rather recent addition to the market. Considerably easier to use with a dynamic interface, Templafy hopes to solve ‘document anarchy’ by establishing a streamlined approach to document management.

Templafy homepage

Templafy is a document management system that hopes to end document anarchy by serving teams, wherever they are in the workflow.




Features

  • Batch processing
  • Intelligent information management
  • Compliance Tracking
  • File conversion
  • Metadata management 
  • Customizable Branding
  • Single sign-on


Pricing

  • Offers free trial? Not one that’s advertised on their website.
  • No pricing details are available on the website.


Drawbacks

Designed for larger enterprises, Templafy’s price is on the higher end which makes it unsuitable for smaller enterprises. Templafy is also relatively new so it’s in the process of adding features. 


Best for

Large enterprises

OnlyOffice 


OnlyOffice is a DMS and office software suite developed by Ascensio System SIA. It serves as a cost-effective solution for small businesses looking for effective document management and editing system. 

OnlyOffice homepage

OnlyOffice is a DMS and office software suite developed by Ascensio System SIA.



Features

  • File type conversion
  • Document archiving
  • File recovery
  • File assembly
  • 3-in-1 editing suite


Pricing

  • Offers free trial? Yes
  • OnlyOffice Community edition: Free
  • OnlyOffice Docs enterprise edition: $149 - $1200
  • OnlyOffice Docs developer edition: $1500 - $7000
  • OnlyOffice Workspace cloud service: ranges from $0-$6
  • OnlyOffice Workspace server enterprise: $2200 - $4450


Drawbacks

OnlyOffice doesn’t offer compliance tracking, a critical feature for a small business. It also doesn’t provide users with offline access and document indexing making. OnlyOffice’s community edition happens to be a modified MS Office alternative with a few DMS features rather than a robust DMS. 


Best for

Medium to large enterprises

eFileCabinet


eFileCabinet is known for its excellent customer service and being a flexible product that gives the users control over all their documentation. efFileCabinet is best known as the tool with workflow automation and intelligent organization capabilities with a focus on security and compliance.

eFileCabinet homepage

eFileCabinet is a tool that automates the back office by eliminating busy work and driving growth. 




Features

  • Role-based permissions
  • Two-factor authentication
  • IP or location-based authentication
  • Encrypted file sharing and requests
  • Excellent collaboration features
  • Audit log


Pricing

  • Offers free trial? Not one that’s advertised on the website.
  • Quote on request


Drawbacks

eFileCabinet, although an excellent DMS, costs higher than its competitors which may be unsuitable for small businesses. Their two-factor authentication can prove to be time-consuming. The user interface isn’t intuitive and the starter plan is only suitable for individuals and not for enterprises. 


Best for

Individual creators and medium to large enterprises

VIENNA Advantage


Founded in 2005, VIENNA Advantage is a unique, community-driven, open-source alternative to traditional DMS. One of its most striking features is that it’s freely available to businesses but offers no technical support.

Vienna Advantage homepage

VIENNA Advantage is a community-driven, open-source unified business management suite




Features

  • Secure encryption
  • Workflow automation
  • ERP and CRM integration
  • Cloud-based and on-premise
  • Version control
  • Customizable
  • Indexing available 


Pricing

  • Community edition: free!
  • Enterprise edition and professional edition: paid, but no pricing details are available on the website. Get in touch to get a quote.



Drawbacks

Since VIENNA Advantage is an open-source, community-driven DMS, there is little to no technical support offered. The user community, however, is active and passionate but there will be a steep learning curve to implement the system. 


Best for

Individual creators and solo entrepreneurs

Our document management software top picks


Businesses of different sizes have very different needs, so we’ve picked out two of the industry's favorite platforms to help narrow down your search. This time, we’ve focused on a tool for small business and one that’s better suited to bigger enterprises:


  1. Softr is designed to make no-code internal tool building accessible for small businesses without a team of engineers. It’s ideal for building a customized solution that’s efficient and easy to use.
  2. eFileCabinet is a tool loaded with features and is best for larger enterprises with complex needs.


Let’s compare each platform in detail.

Softr eFileCabinet
Customizable Softr is highly customizable which makes it easier for small businesses, entrepreneurs, and individual creators to avoid clutter. eFileCabinet customizes solutions according to your needs, so some degree of flexibility does exist but not as much as Softr.
User Interface Softr’s UI is intuitive and easy to navigate. eFileCabinet’s UI is a little complex and may take time to get used to.
Features Softr is a comparatively newer tool that doesn’t specialize in DMS. But compared to traditional DMS, Softr has fewer features. eFileCabinet’s features are listed above. Their features are similar to what any traditional DMS would offer.
Complexity Softr is an easy-to-use, no-code tool specifically designed to keep things simple and efficient. eFileCabinet can get complex at times given its design.
Ideal Customer Profile (ICP) Best for independent creators, entrepreneurs, and small businesses with basic needs. Best for small, medium, and large enterprises with complex needs.
Pricing Softr’s starter package costs $24/mo, the professional costs $65/mo and the business package costs $165/mo. They also follow a freemium pricing strategy. According to general consensus, eFileCabinet’s pricing is on the higher end compared to Softr and other tools on the list.
Free trial Yes, offers a 30-day free trial. No free trial, further confirmation through demo call.
Training + learning curve Each client gets assigned a marketing team member who helps them throughout the project. Pre-recorded material is available on their website but the learning curve may be steep.
Customer Support The customer support team is helpful and quick to respond. The customer support team is helpful but can be slow to respond.

Disorganized documents weighing you down?

Softr makes it easy to build internal tools to keep your documents secure, indexed, and accessible.

The final word on document management


Documenting your work on paper or on your personal desktop is totally inefficient and comes with its fair share of risk. But finding a DMS that’s easy to use, keeps your documents secure, and actually improves your workflow can be a difficult task. Now you know the industry favorites, you should be better equipped to choose your own.


You may be inclined to go for a traditional, dedicated document management system from the list above. But with Softr, you can custom-build an internal web app to meet your exact business needs. You don’t need any coding experience, it’s really easy to get started, and you’ll never have to worry about lost files or clunky collaboration again.

Disorganized documents weighing you down?

Softr makes it easy to build internal tools to keep your documents secure, indexed, and accessible.

Frequently asked questions about document management systems

A small business has to deal with multiple types of documents like invoices, contracts, summaries, expense sheets, receipts, and client information. Some small businesses use paper to store all these documents while some use Excel Sheets or Airtable to store, manage and retrieve them. Ideally, every small business should use a document management system to stay organized and maximize efficiency.

Small businesses save documents in physical files and cabinets. If they use digital forms to store documents, they usually use Excel or Google Sheets. Some businesses also store documents on the drive. Ideally, every small business should use a document management system to stay organized and maximize efficiency. A DMS essentially helps you replace paper files and Google Drive.

Although you can create, store, edit, and share documents (and possibly even create a client portal with Google Drive) it cannot double as a document management system (DMS). Modern-day document management systems allow users to do much more than just save, edit and share files. What does a DMS have that Google Drive doesn’t? For starters, all the things listed below: - Reporting tools - Collaboration tools - Multiple workflow options - Advanced permission control - Metadata management Also, Google Drive isn’t the most secure option to store your documents.

The best document management software for your business depends on your needs and requirements, but the top 8 best document management systems are 1. Softr (not a typical DMS, but the best platform for building internal tools) 2. DocuWare 3. Microsoft SharePoint 4. M-Files 5. Templafy 6. Ascensio System OnlyOffice 7. eFileCabinet 8. VIENNA Advantage

Cloud storage is a virtual space available on servers that can be used through the internet. When you upload a document to the cloud, your data is stored remotely and can be accessed on your command. This can be done because your data is being stored on large computer servers remotely.

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