< Back to Blog

Complete Guide to Document Management Software

Person managing documents

Managing documents comes with a list of administrative tasks that are not the most exciting to perform and yet they are important. Document management software comes with the necessary tools to handle the entire lifecycle of your documents and what’s more, it is a paperless solution that saves enterprises hundreds of dollars.

What is Document Management Software?

This software is used to capture electronic data, store documents as well as track them. you can think of it as a filing cabinet with the ability to find documents you need and determine what’s done with the documents.

Document management technology helps in management of content. With this software, you can add controls and management ability to ordinary documents. This software handles the entire lifecycle of documents.

Who Needs This Software?

It is common to ask if a particular technology is for your organization. This one is suited for any company that deals with documents and would like to save money, space, and time. Some enterprises though may need it more than others for example healthcare providers are mandated by law to have electronic record systems. Law and accounting firms can also benefit from such software since they have to handle large volumes of documents. But whether the need for this technology is critical or convenient, the benefits of using such a system can convince enterprises and businesses both small and large to adopt it.

What Does DMS Do?

If you decide to purchase this software, it would be good to understand what it will do for you. Certain common features of the best document management system can help guide your expectations.

Here are the key abilities to consider:

Stack of documents

Storing Documents

The software acts as your electronic cabinet. You can store documents in different formats ranging from ordinary DOCX to media files. The storage varies from ordinary storage on your PC as it adds tags and indexing along with metadata for easy access.

Documents can be stored using metadata which describes the document. The descriptions can be the author of the documents, so all documents authored by the accountant may be stored in a single location. Other descriptions include time, date, file type, etc.

Scan and Capture

Paper documents can also be stored within the system using a scan and capture method. You can scan your paper documents and they will be saved as an image. Some sophisticated software can extract the data from paper documents and enter into another document for storage and use.

Manage Workflows

This is important in managing the lifecycle of a document. The system will have a dashboard that a user can use to track tasks related to the documents. For example, a contract that needs to be renewed will show up on the dashboard for action to be taken. The software coordinates schedules for the document lifecycle.


Just like you would expect a cabinet to provide a level of security for a paper document, the document management system will keep documents safe. Unlike a cabinet though, this software can restrict access to a particular document while granting access to another, this means private documents will only be accessed by authorized individuals while other documents like templates can be accessed by everyone. This is done using encryption, access authentication as well as other security features installed by the manufacturer.


It may be necessary for users to communicate as they collaborate on a particular document. Some software comes with chat options so that you do not need to leave the work environment to communicate with another person.

Version Control

Document generation may involve the creation of different versions, but the software retains a master copy so that it doesn’t get confusing which is the approved version of a document. Edits made to the document are indicated and may have a time stamp. Approval of a version is done by authorized individuals only so everyone will remain on the same page.

Document Indexing

This is done to make it easier to find a document. Documents can be tagged with distinctive terms so that they can be found easily. The tags could be invoice numbers, company names, dates, and so on.

Features to Consider When Choosing Document Management Software

Cloud Deployment

In a fast-paced world where work is done on the go, it is important to access your documents anytime and from anywhere. Cloud deployment makes this possible and you should consider choosing a cloud based document management solution.

Group of people collaborating with computer

Collaboration Capability

Teamwork is emphasized by most organizations so your solution should make it possible for people to collaborate on a document. Find out if they support collaboration.

Mobile Access

A lot of work today is done using mobile devices, just like the convenience cloud deployment provides, mobile access makes it possible to access documents on the go. The phone camera can also be used to capture paper documents and store them in the system.


As your company grows, you will need a solution that can grow with you. This should also apply if your company decides to scale down. Understand what it will cost you to scale up or down.

Customer Support

If you run into any problems using the software, it is necessary to have assistance on hand. Find out how customer support is provided and to what extent. Do they simply help you set up and after that, you are on your own? You may even need support to carry out the training of staff.

Ease of Use

Sometimes you may not need customer support because the product is so easy to use. Customer-friendly solutions are much better than those that require you have customer support on speed dial.


There are so many products out there and the pricing varies. Compare prices and understand why the software is priced as it is. Do not choose a solution simply because it seems cheap or expensive.


What hardware and software are you already using? Are you ready to change or upgrade? Alternatively, it would be better if you choose a solution that will easily integrate with what you already have. The best DMS will be compatible with any of the common systems used.


Find out how long it will take to implement the solution and what will be involved. Gauge if the process is one you are ready to go through or find one that suits the time and resources you have.

Benefits of Using Document Management

This is the part of the guide where we justify the amount of money you will spend on a DMS and the adjustments you will have to make. Sometimes people need that extra push even after they understand what a product is.

So here’s the push:

No More Lost Documents

With document management services, every document is safely stored on the server or in the cloud and can be accessed easily. This will save time that you would have spent searching for a document or having to reproduce the document. With the time saved, you can focus on other activities that help to grow the business.

Better Customer Service

Businesses that use management software report less time spent serving customers and this means customers are happier. One of the annoying practices for customers is the amount of time it takes to find their documents or even worse, being informed their documents are missing. This never happens with the right DMS in place.

People reviewing document compliance

Compliance With Regulatory Guidelines

Some industries are under obligation to have digital record systems and this software makes it easier to comply with those guidelines.

Easier Collaboration

The software provides tools for users to collaborate. Some of the tools include highlighters, side notes, and chat among others. This enables users to work within the system when collaborating.

Saves Money and Makes More

Digital documents mean less dependence on paper, which means an organization can cut down or even out, paper expense. Also, the better and faster customer service will attract more customers as well as retain the ones who are already signed up. This brings in more money to an organization.

Document Safety

Documents are much safer when saved electronically. It's harder for unauthorized individuals to get hold of them and even in case of a disaster like fire or flooding, a cloud-based solution will ensure that the documents are still safe and accessible so that business can carry on.

Final Tip

You will find several types of document management systems in the market, use this guide as a handy reference to help you make a choice. Do not ignore user reviews as most of them will provide honest feedback about the performance of the software. It is also important for you to start by listing key features you would want and that will help eliminate solutions that do not suit your need.

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

Written by:_
Genesis Abel
Windward © 2020 All Rights Reserved.


Got questions about reporting and document generation? We've got answers—let's connect!
Send a note
messaging, phone, or email contact optionsclose out button