An EDMS, or engineering document management system, is a robust software designed to centralize an organization's dynamic and often complex engineering documents, drawings, and data, thereby replacing outdated, disparate, or manual systems. The goal? To provide a single, consistent source of truth that can streamline collaboration, facilitate compliance, ensure safety, simplify document version control, and ultimately lead to significant efficiency and ROI.

Is an EDMS the Same as an Electronic Document Management System (eDMS)?

Yes, and no. They are both document management systems (DMSs), and they are both electronic, but that is where the similarities end. An engineering document management system is a particular flavor of an electronic document management system purpose-built for engineering documents, drawings, and data. It optimizes the complex and dynamic documents you find in asset-heavy organizations.
 

In the engineering, construction, and manufacturing industries, an EDMS like Meridian can connect to and inform building information modeling (BIM) and facility and asset management tools such as Maintenance Connection to improve operational connectivity and ensure important data is accessible company-wide.

Conversely, an electronic document management system is built for storing and managing unstructured data that undergoes very little change, such as legal and financial documents or marketing collateral. An electronic document management system is not well suited for asset data and engineering drawings, such as CAD files, BIM models, and schematics.

What Can an EDMS Do?

Businesses and organizations find that a well-designed and properly implemented EDMS can help their users tackle some redundant, mundane, and error-prone tasks of day-to-day operations. Using the robust features of an engineering document management system, employees work faster and more efficiently, especially when it gives them the ability to:

  • Eliminate printouts and manual processes
  • Gain instant access to relevant information and documents directly on mobile devices
  • Navigate and maintains the relationship between documents, design models (like CAD), and physical spaces or assets
  • Access accurate and complete documentation — regardless of source and format — in just a few clicks
  • Provide document version control and content management to prevent users from working on incorrect or outdated versions
  • Ensure users have access to complete, up-to-date documentation related to work orders or other business processes
  • Maintain the quality, accuracy, and completeness of data and metadata in a unified system

And make no mistake — an EDMS is more than a digital filing cabinet. It's a document organizer, distributor, and integrator that will simplify processes and allow your team to quickly use your data rather than fumble through it. 

Top EDMS System Features to Look Out For

When choosing an EDMS system for your organization, keep in mind that the best engineering document management systems include the following features:

Easy-to-Configure Workflows

Revision controls and approval processes will help you streamline workflow information like document type and the number of working copies. This can ultimately simplify collaboration and ensure everyone is working on the right page at the right time.

Intuitive Document Version Control

Automatic document version control and auditing help ensure that all versions and drafts of a document are accurately recorded and managed across different teams and devices. This type of content management can help regulatory compliance and ensure that all users have access to up-to-date, accurate information to maximize productivity and safety and ensure data integrity.

The assets and documents in both applications are 100% identical. As a result, our people have a better view of the as-built environment and, therefore, work more efficiently. Consequently, management costs have been reduced.
Rene Baron,
Maintenance & Engineering Manager

Seamless Integrations

A robust EDMS software will pull information from other key systems and departments — including a CRM, EAM, or CAD software — to ensure that your mission-critical data is always effectively tracked, recorded, and synchronized into a single source of truth.

  • 93% faster document search speed
  • 3% fewer duplicate engineering drawings and zero missing file incidents over the last two years
  • Increased engineering and operations productivity
  • Improved compliance with equipment and client requirements
By consolidating our engineering documents into one central, controlled system and syncing properties with SolidWorks, Meridian has enabled our staff to find relevant drawings and parts 93% faster than before.
Zaneb Khan,
Systems Technician

Streamlined Document Management

Make document storage and document sharing more user-friendly with an EDMS system. Share documents, organize your electronic files, simplify your document workflow, control your file formats, and optimize file sharing in just a few clicks.

Easy Compliance

Maintaining ongoing compliance with regulatory bodies requires easy-to-follow audit trails, strict document authorizations, and — according to ISO engineering standards — strict document version control. The right engineering document management software can help set permissions and control document access to facilitate ongoing compliance. It can also connect your documents to records retention schedules, allowing your team to turn active documents into compliant records easily.

With Meridian, we ensure compliance with Joint Commission International standards as well as other equipment and government requirements, which allows us to better serve our patients and stay focused on our mission of contributing to the future of healthcare and medical science."
Willy Baten,
Information specialist

Mobile and Multi-Site Capabilities

In a COVID-19 world, organizations and team members are forced to work across facilities and devices more than ever before. Meridian EDMS offers cloud deployments and mobile capabilities to help ensure data integrity, content management, and document control across devices and locations.

Distance is irrelevant with Meridian. Whether you're an engineer at a power plant or a maintenance technician out in the field, you have reliable access to a single source of information. Meridian has significantly improved our team collaboration at all levels.
Janet Hart,
Technical Services Manager

Concurrent Work Capabilities

With manual data entry or disparate document management systems, only one person can access an up-to-date document, and no one else can work on the same project until that document is shared or copied. This leads to low productivity, poor execution, ineffective records management, and even injuries. The right EDMS will avoid such concerns with multi-site capabilities and widely available schematic information to help users understand the as-built environment, schedule, complete work orders, and carry out concurrent engineering.

By enabling users to easily compare drawing revisions and highlight what has changed, Meridian has improved the efficiency and quality of our engineering projects.
Janet Hart,
Technical Services Manager

Streamlined Data Entry

If the right data is missing or difficult to find, it can be difficult to execute work orders or complete workflows. The right EDMS can require completing certain fields and organizing relevant documents to ensure that the right information is in the right place at the right time.

Collaboration Tools

A robust document management system will provide the capabilities and tools your team needs to modify documents and streamline updates or decision-making effectively. This includes mark-up tools like annotations, redactions, highlighting, stamps, and text boxes.

Intuitive System Organization

Like any filing cabinet or library, an EDMS must be effectively hierarchically structured, organized, and indexed to be useful. In Meridian's engineering document management system, your digital documents are available in a central repository. And they can be organized by any parameters you choose, including creation date, department, and more.

Easy Document Locating and Search

With an EDMS's hierarchical structure, metadata, search, and archival functionalities, finding the right information at the right time is easier than ever. These tools will help you track key milestones like creation dates, modifications, reviews, and approval statuses while effortlessly searching for and locating the files you need across folders and repositories.

The Benefits of an EDMS System

Better Cost Control

Many factors — including an aging asset infrastructure, reactive maintenance practices, and incomplete document and preventive maintenance (PM) information — can lead to skyrocketing maintenance costs and inefficiencies. This is unsustainable in today's lean environment. Accruent's engineering document management system, Meridian, can reduce these maintenance costs while also extending the asset lifecycle and ensuring a safer workplace.

Improved Data Integrity

By connecting to other relevant data sources such as CAD, CRM, CMMS, or EAM applications, engineering document management system software can maintain the integrity of your data and help create a single source of truth for your mission-critical information. This can resolve common pain points like out-of-date information, incomplete information, or incorrect active versions.

Decreased Document Search Time

A document management solution like Meridian makes information, documentation, and schematics easily accessible during any project or even an emergency by offering concurrent versions of documents and drawings. Meridian also maintains the integrity of data throughout the asset lifecycle and provides a comprehensive CAD software agnostic solution for engineering drawing document management, thereby creating a single source of truth for all important information.

By creating a single source of up-to-date information that removes silos and integrates with our EAM solution, Meridian has helped us reduce maintenance errors by 50% and save $20,000 annually in unnecessary rework.
Willy Baten,
Information specialist

Fewer Costly Human Errors

Mistakes and redundancies caused by missing information or poor document control can cost time, efficiency, and productivity. A comprehensive EDMS will facilitate document search and offer automated document data completion and updates to reduce such mistakes and increase ROI.

Connected Employees and Departments

Meridian helps over 350,000 professionals keep their mission-critical documentation up to date. It also ensures that data is easily accessible by the right people while maximizing staff productivity, breaking down silos between departments, and supporting personnel safety.

This widely available, comprehensive information can close the skills gap and allow for better training and knowledge management within an organization.

By bridging the gap between maintenance and engineering and integrating with IBM Maximo, Sund & Bælt has improved efficiency of its entire maintenance operation. Our personnel find Meridian very easy to use. It's now indispensable to them.
Kurt Lauvring,
Project Manager

Successful Preventive Maintenance

In asset-heavy industries and environments, preventive asset maintenance and maximized asset reliability are crucial to increased margins and effective job completion. Such reliability requires complete and easily accessible maintenance data. A powerful EDM system provides this data, allowing organizations to easily track, manage, and use all relevant asset documentation and maintenance data. This ultimately breaks down communication lifecycles, increases technician efficiency, and improves asset safety and compliance.

Increase Transparency

To increase processes and improve productivity, an EDMS can provide a 10,000-foot view of how documents are being used and how well your document-driven processes are working. Use this insight to reward employees, restructure processes, and drive ROI.

Reduced Storage and Archival Costs

Eliminate the need to dedicate physical space, employee bandwidth, and operational budgets to maintain file storage and organization.

Improved Security

Data breaches, document loss, and compliance concerns are real pain points, particularly in an unorganized digital, cloud-based environment. By controlling information access and offering consistent security updates, an EDMS can help your organization effectively address and sidestep such concerns.

Flexibility to Reallocate Budget

Immediately upon implementation, an EDMS can replace current paper archives, drastically reducing the time and budget spent managing paper records. In the long term, more effective search and automated document management can transform efficiency and release funds to other business-critical verticals.

Increased Efficiency Company-Wide

Data extraction, implementing workflows, invoicing, contracting — all these internal processes can be complicated and slow. An EDMS's automated data extraction, search capabilities, and workflow templates can reduce such bottlenecks, improving company-wide efficiency and uptime.

Who Can Use an EDMS?

An EDMS can be useful for many asset-heavy businesses, providing a single source of truth for engineering documentation that can reduce inefficiencies and improve decision-making.

Industries and Business Types That EDMS Can Help

An EDMS can be used in a range of asset or information-heavy industries. It's also an ideal tool for businesses that rely on paper-based operations (and notice the resulting inefficiencies or bottlenecks) or for those that have digital documents living in many disconnected systems or repositories (i.e., in Word documents, PDFs, Excel sheets, PowerPoints, emails, mobile documents, etc.)

Engineering Document Management System

Pain Points an EDMS Can Address

For professionals in these industries and situations, an EDMS can help resolve common pain points, including:

  • Out-of-control physical/outsourced document storage costs
  • Consistent data-related delays and inefficiencies
  • Frustrating document search, updating, and retrieval processes
  • Siloed and disconnected information makes it difficult to make data-driven decisions
  • Security concerns and vulnerabilities
  • Low disaster recovery capabilities
  • Human error

How Does an Engineering Document Management System Work to Resolve Concerns?

An EDMS can also be an essential component of broader digital transformation. It can inform strategies and processes such as preventive maintenance and business process automation that will modernize your built environment.

By centralizing disparate information and providing a simple tool for searching documents, completing work orders, maintaining compliance, and more, an EDMS can help users across industries and verticals to:

  • Secure their documents against security threats and compliance concerns
  • Convert paper documents and consolidate disparate information
  • Share all relevant information with the right people at the right time
  • Simplify document organization and standardization while adding context and enhancements to imported information
  • Consolidate and connect information for big-picture insight and operational improvements

Who Should Manage Your EDMS?

Initially, your IT department can spearhead your EDMS initiatives and work to import data and standardize information across devices and team members. That said, implementation can often be complex – and Accruent experts are certainly here to help you begin, scale and standardize the process.

For ongoing maintenance, you can also consider hiring an electronic document controller to oversee the daily document management process. More specifically, this person will:

  • Perform quality and compliance reviews to ensure document completeness, accuracy, and authenticity
  • Distribute documents and drawings to ensure full compliance with control procedures and requirements
  • Create, enforce, and maintain document control procedures and work instructions to ensure consistency and accuracy across the organization
  • Update and process documents to make sure that all relevant personnel have access to the latest, most complete drawings, specification logs, and binders
  • Accurately number, sort, file, and store all relevant electronic and hard copy documents needed in your organization

FAQ: Engineering Document Management System (EDMS)

What is an electronic document management system?

An electronic document management system (eDMS) is a type of software that stores, organizes, and manages documents in the form of electronic files for an organization. This system works best for documents that do not undergo much change, such as legal files, financial reports, marketing collateral, and scanned posts.

What is a digital engineering document management system?

A digital engineering document management system is a type of electronic document management system purpose-built for engineering documents and drawings. It centralizes, organizes, and manages these documents while providing users with complete, actionable facilities and asset data they can use to increase efficiency and save money. It ultimately provides a single source of truth for all documentation, helps organizations maintain regulatory compliance, provides configurable workflows to streamline collaboration with all internal departments, provides comprehensive document version control, and simplifies auditing.

What are the best document management systems?

There are a few key features of a best-in-class engineering document management system. Above all, the right document management system must be easy-to-use, intuitive, and highly adopted by your employees. It also needs to provide a single source of truth for all mission-critical data to maintain the quality, accuracy, and completeness of your data and metadata. Likewise, it offers easy-to-configure workflows that allow for streamlined collaboration, easy document version control, and auditing of documents to maintain regulatory compliance. It also ensures that everyone is working on the correct version, provides accessible data to maximize staff productivity, and supports personnel safety.

What are the advantages of an engineering document management system?

The right engineering document management system will provide many advantages, including helping users process, store and retrieve records, simplify document version control, and streamline collaboration across departments, facilities, and devices. It can also improve project timelines, audit and inspection readiness, increase document control and security, lower costs, streamline knowledge management, and facilitate compliance.

What is the typical ROI for engineering document management?

An engineering document management system delivers both immediate and long-term ROI improvements. An EDMS can immediately improve cash flow in the short term by reducing paper costs and increasing employee efficiency. Over time, ROI improvements will be seen in savings per document, reduced timelines for companies for payroll, turnaround, invoicing, and other key processes. Also, document-related cost reduction, more efficient customer service and public service, reduced storage and archival costs, and more effective collaboration and document modification.

What are some engineering document management system examples?

If you're looking for examples of engineering document management systems, keep in mind that there's a lot of variety, including the functionalities and the real results they can deliver for your business. Consider your company's scale, complexity, and document management needs when evaluating these options. Here are some real examples of how Meridian EDMS helped organizations: MSCM Ltd integrated Meridian with Solidworks (one of their existing systems) to consolidate documents and streamline their document management. Zurich Airport used Meridian to improve data and plan consistency across their organization. Seattle City Light improved its engineering data integrity and, in turn, its compliance and productivity.

What is ISO document control?

There are many competing standards worldwide for BIM and EDM tools, though ISO standards are essentially replacing these, which the entire world will eventually adopt. These include ISO 9001, which calls for document control. In other words, ISO 9001 tries to ensure that the right people have access to documents when needed, that those documents are up-to-date, and that no unauthorized users can access or change a document's contents. This ultimately helps ensure that essential engineering documents are up-to-date, comprehensive, and trustworthy, increasing compliance and improving operational efficiency over time.

Why is EDMS required?

An EDMS can provide many necessary improvements to operations and workflows, particularly for businesses with lots of documentation or those looking to digitally transform their operations. These benefits include cost savings, simplified compliance with ISO 9001, Sarbanes Oxley regulations, HIPAA, and other regulatory bodies, improved disaster recovery, employee productivity, audit management, automation of the document workflows, and security.