7 Best Document Management Software Options for SMBs in 2023

Effective document management is critical for companies of all sizes, but especially for small and medium businesses (SMBs) with limited resources. The right software can help SMBs securely store documents, enable seamless collaboration across teams, integrate with existing tools, and automate repetitive tasks.

This article compares seven top-rated document management platforms suitable for SMBs based on features, capabilities, ease of use and value provided.

What is Document Management and Why it Matters for SMBs

Document management software centrally stores and organizes digital documents, allowing businesses to access, share, track and manage files from any location.

Key benefits of document management systems include:

  • Improved collaboration and productivity by allowing remote access and file sharing
  • Better document version control with features like revision history
  • Enhanced security and compliance with access controls and audit logs
  • Increased efficiency through automated workflows
  • Cost and time savings by eliminating paperwork and manual processes

For SMBs with limited staff and resources, maximizing productivity and controlling costs are crucial for success. The right document management platform can provide a flexible, affordable solution to help SMBs achieve these goals.

Key Features to Look For

When evaluating document management tools for SMB use, key capabilities to look for include:

Collaboration Features: Allowing multiple users to jointly edit, annotate, comment on and approve documents. SMBs need to facilitate smooth collaboration between employees, clients and partners.

Integration with Existing Tools: Seamlessly syncing with popular applications like Office 365, G Suite, Salesforce, Dropbox etc. Reduces switching effort for SMBs.

Access Controls and Security: Customizable permissions, authentication protocols, remote wipe of lost devices etc. to protect sensitive data. Critical for SMB compliance needs.

Indexing and Search: Automatically capturing document metadata, tags and content to enable fast search even across large repositories. Saves time for SMB users.

Workflow Automation: Route documents according to preset rules, trigger approvals/notifications, auto-file records etc. Helps SMBs work more efficiently.

Custom Fields and Metadata: Add custom indices and templates to tailor system to SMB’s specific needs and terminology. Enhances user experience.

Mobile Access: Allow remote users to access, edit, share and approve documents on-the-go. Essential for enabling SMB workforce mobility.

With an understanding of these key capabilities, let’s examine seven leading document management platforms for SMBs.

1. iManage

iManage is an intelligent document and email management solution designed for legal, accounting and financial services firms. Key features include:

  • Centralized document repository with granular permissions
  • Integration with MS Office, document comparison tools and practice management apps
  • Advanced search and reporting across structured and unstructured data
  • Work product collaboration within Outlook email threads
  • Records management with retention schedules and disposition workflows
  • Mobile apps allow document access and editing on iOS and Android

Pros for SMBs: Deep integration with Microsoft productivity suite, strong security compliance capabilities, mobile access.

Cons: Expensive, better suited for larger enterprises. Steep learning curve.

2. Box

Box is a secure cloud content management platform that enables users to manage, share and collaborate on documents from anywhere. Notable features include:

  • Real-time document co-editing and annotations
  • Integrates with Office 365, G Suite, Slack, Salesforce and 120+ apps via APIs
  • Customizable metadata tags, fields and templates for easy indexing
  • Advanced security controls like classification-based permissions and antivirus scans
  • Reporting insights into content usage, sharing activities and user behavior
  • Intuitive web and mobile apps for document access across devices

Pros: User-friendly interface, broad third-party integrations, strong security.

Cons: Storage limits may require add-ons for SMBs managing large volumes of documents.

3. Folderit

Folderit brands itself as an easy-to-use yet full-featured document management solution allowing SMBs to go paperless. Key highlights:

  • Drag and drop uploads to cloud-based digital filing cabinet
  • Automated document expiry and retention enforcement
  • Role-based access controls and remote device wipe capability
  • Link documents to each other for contextual relationships
  • Integrations with MS Office 365, DocuSign eSignature and Adobe Sign
  • Easy search based on filename, metadata, keywords or full-text

Pros: User-friendly document upload and organization, built-in retention workflows.

Cons: Limited native mobile apps. Collaboration capabilities weaker than some competitors.

4. OpenKM

OpenKM markets itself as an affordable on-premise document management option for SMBs. Key features:

  • Document version control with detailed edit history
  • Automated OCR for fast full-text searches across scanned files
  • Custom metadata fields and templates for intuitive indexing
  • Access controls, authentication protocols and remote device wipe
  • MS Office and Google Docs integration for real-time co-editing
  • Records management with retention rules and legal holds

Pros: Lower cost than SaaS options, no storage limits. Good security compliance.

Cons: Lacks native mobile apps, onboarding and configuration can be complex.

5. eFileCabinet

eFileCabinet emphasizes secure paperless document storage and management with convenient search and retrieval. Key details:

  • Cloud-based digital filing system with role-based permissions
  • Integration with MS Office, Salesforce CRM and other popular tools
  • Automated workflows for triggering alerts, approvals, reminders etc.
  • Multifactor authentication and custom password policies for security
  • Broad search capabilities including fuzzy text matching
  • Templates and naming conventions for consistent organization

Pros: Strong security protections, user-friendly search features.

Cons: Mobile access requires Citrix endpoint manager. Lacks offline access capabilities.

6. DocuWare

DocuWare emphasizes document digitization and automation to optimize business processes. Key features:

  • Central document repository with access across devices
  • OCR and barcode recognition for automated document filing
  • Custom workflows to mimic paper trails and route documents
  • Annotations and version control allow document collaboration
  • Over 500 integrations with common business applications
  • Built-in analytics on document processes and user activity

Pros: Excellent automation and integration capabilities. Decent mobile support.

Cons: Steep learning curve, training required to maximize value.

7. Alfresco

Alfresco markets itself as an open-source enterprise content management platform with document management as a major component. Notable features:

  • Centralized document repository accessible across devices
  • Granular controls allow different access levels per user
  • Collaborative editing with version histories showing detailed changes
  • Embedded search engine indexes content, metadata and tags
  • Customizable workflows to mimic existing business processes
  • APIs allow integration with surrounding IT infrastructure

Pros: Lower cost open source option, great flexibility/customization.

Cons: Steep learning curve, professional configuration services likely required.

Comparing the Top 7 Document Management Platforms

iManage Box Folderit OpenKM eFileCabinet DocuWare Alfresco
Cost $$$ $$ $ $ $$ $$ $
Learning Curve High Low Low Moderate Low High High
Ideal Customer Legal, Accounting, Finance General Business General Business General Business General Business Process Automation Specialists Technical Teams
Integration Capabilities Moderate High Moderate Low Moderate High High
Collaboration Tools Strong Strong Basic Basic Basic Moderate Strong
Access Control Options Strong Strong Strong Strong Strong Moderate Strong
On-Premise Option No No No Yes No No Yes

Tips for Selecting the Right Software

With many solid document management platforms to pick from, focus on these areas when making your selection:

Integration Needs – If relying heavily on sync with apps like Office 365 or Salesforce, ensure compatibility.

Security Requirements – If managing sensitive documents, prioritize strong access controls and remote wipe.

Existing Processes – Opt for enough customization to mimic current workflows rather than dramatic overhaul.

Team Collaboration Needs – If cross-functional document sharing is frequent, choose a tool with robust co-editing.

Budget – Weigh cost against level of effort for customization and feature usage. Cheaper tools may require more work.

Ease of Adoption – If limited internal IT resources, pick an intuitive platform over one with steep learning curve.

By carefully weighing these factors against business objectives, SMBs can determine the ideal document management solution to meet their specific needs.

The Bottom Line

A purpose-built document management platform allows SMBs to securely store, easily find, and seamlessly share documents across teams and tools. While the market offers many options to choose from, the seven covered here provide a strong starting point.

Carefully evaluate each against your top priorities like collaboration, compliance, integration needs and budget to select the one that best fits your requirements. The small upfront investment will pay ongoing dividends through unlocked productivity and efficiency gains.