What is EDMS? | Electronic Document Management System

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robust software designed to centralize an organization’s relevant documents and engineering drawings, thereby replacing outdated, disparate or manual systems.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

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What Can An EDMS Do?

Businesses and organizations find that a well-designed and properly implemented EDMS can help their users tackle some of the more redundant, mundane, and error-prone tasks of day-to-day operations. Using the robust features of a 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  • Provide document version control and content management to prevent users from working on incorrect or outdated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, distributer and integrator that will simplify processes and allow your team to use your data rather than simply fumble through it.


Is an EDMS the same as an ECM System?

An EDMS is very different than an enterprise content management (ECM) system. While the two share many features, an EDMS is built to optimize the active and dynamic documents you will find in asset-heavy organizations. Conversely, an ECM, or enterprise content management system, is built for storing and managing unstructured data that undergoes very little change. It is not suited for asset data and engineering drawings.

In the engineering and manufacturing industries, an EDMS like Meridian can connect to and inform building information modeling (BIM) and facility management (FM) tools FAMIS 360vX Maintain and Maintenance Connection to improve operational connectivity and ensure that important data is accessible company-wide.


Top EDMS System Features to Look Out For

When choosing an EDMS system for your organization, keep in mind that the best electronic 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 number of working copies. This can ultimately simplify collaboration and ensure that everyone is working on the right page at the right time.

Intuitive Document Version Control

Automatic document version control and auditing helps ensure that all versions and drafts of a document are accurately recorded and managed across team members and devices. This type of content management can help regulatory compliance and ensure that all users have access to the up-to-date, accurate information to maximize productivity, stay safe 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.”

Streamlined Integrations

A robust EDMS software will pull information from other key systems and departments – including a CRM, your accounting databases, 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 0 missing file incidents over the last 2 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."

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 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, thereby allowing your team to easily turn active documents into compliant records.

"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.”

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, both of which can 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."

Concurrent Work Capabilities

With manual data entry or disparate document management systems, only person has access to 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 inefficiency 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 and 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.”

Streamlined Data Entry

If the right data is missing or difficult to find, it can be difficult to execute work orders or complete work flows. The right EDMS can require the completion of certain fields and organize relevant documents to make sure 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 effectively modify documents and streamline updates or decision-making. 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 enterprise 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

Finding the right information at the right time is easier than ever with EDMS’ hierarchical structure, metadata, search and archival functionalities. These tools will help you track key milestones like creation dates, modifications, reviews and approval statuses while easily 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 engineering document management (EDMS) systems 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 – like CAD software, CRM, CMMS, or EAM –  electronic 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

By offering concurrent versions of document and drawings, a document management solution like Meridian makes information, documentation & schematics easily accessible during any project or even an emergency. Meridian also maintains the integrity of data throughout the asset lifecycle and offers 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.”

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.

A loss caused by information incidents is equivalent to 1.5% of annual sales. For example, in a plant with sales of $250 million, that means $3.75 million lost in a single year, according to Asset Information and Analytics: Drivers of Process Industry Operational Excellence

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 kind of 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.”


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 process and drive ROI.

Reduced Storage & 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 very 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.

Increased Efficiency Company-Wide

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

The global process industry loses $20 billion annually due to unplanned downtime and it is has become increasingly clear that in order to survive in a competitive, fast-changing, global industry, organizations are required to continually look for ways to increase their operational efficiency.

"With streamlined workflows, improved communication among departments, and easy access to information, Meridian has helped us increase employee efficiency and better focus on our core mission of creating innovative new therapeutic treatments.”

-BILL EAGER, Drawing Management Senior Engineer

Flexibility to Reallocate Budget

Immediately upon implementation, an EDMS can replace current paper archives, drastically reducing the time and budget spent on 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.

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.)

Electronic Document Management System

Pain Points 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 that makes it difficult to make data-driven decisions
Security concerns and vulnerabilities
Low disaster recovery capabilities
Human error

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

An EDMS can also be an essential component of broader digital transformation and it can inform broader strategies and processes - like preventive maintenance, 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 EDM 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 be in charge of 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 maintaining 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 Jump Link

      FAQ: Electronic 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 are the best document management systems?

      There are a few key features of a best-in-class document management system EDMS. Above all, the right document management system needs to 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, accurate, and completeness of your data and metadata. Easy-to-configure workflows that allow for streamlined collaboration. Easy document version control and auditing of documents to maintain regulatory compliance and ensure that everyone is working on the correct version. Easily accessible data to maximize staff productivity and support personnel safety.

      What are the advantages of an electronic document management system?

      The right electronic document management system will provide many advantages, helping users: Process, store and retrieve records. Simplify their document version control. Streamline collaboration across departments, facilities and devices. Improve their timelines, which in turn can improve audit and inspection readiness. Increase document control and document security Lower costs Streamline knowledge management. Facilitate compliance.

      What is the typical ROI for electronic document management?

      An electronic document management system delivers both immediate and long-term ROI improvements. In the short-term, an EDMS can immediately improve cash flow by reducing paper costs and increasing employee efficiency. Over time, ROI improvements will be seen in the form of: Savings per document Reduced timelines for companies using document management when it comes to payroll, turnaround, invoicing and other key processes. Document-related cost reduction More efficient customer service and public service Reduced storage and archival costs More effective collaboration and document modification.

      What are some electronic document management system examples?

      If you’re looking for examples of electronic document management systems, keep in mind that there’s a lot of variety when it comes to the EMDS systems out there, their functionalities and the real results they can deliver for your business. When evaluating these options, keep in mind your company’s scale, complexity and document management needs. If you run a smaller operation, you may not need ultra-robust document management that can be found with an enterprise tool like Meridian. Here are some real examples of how Meridian helped organizations: MSCM Ltd integrated Meridian with Solidworks, one of their existing systems, to consolidate documents and streamline their document management. Zurich Airport used the enterprise electronic document management system to improve data and plan consistency across their organization. Seattle City Light improved their engineering data integrity – and, in turn, their compliance and productivity.

      What is ISO document control?

      There are many competing standards around the world for BIM and EDM tools, though these are largely being replaced by the ISO standards, which will eventually be adopted by the entire world. 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 they need it, 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 important engineering documents are up-to-date, comprehensive, and trustworthy, which can ultimately both increase compliance and improve operational efficiency over time.

      Why is EDMS required?

      Particularly for businesses with lots of documentation – or those looking to digitally transform their operations – an EDMS can provide many necessary improvements to operations and workflow. These benefits include: Cost savings. Simplified compliance with ISO 19001, Sarbanes Oxley regulations, HIPAA and other regulatory bodies. Disaster recovery. Maximized employee productivity. Audit management. Automation of the document workflows. Improved security.