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Free Document Management Software Vs Paid Solutions

Rachel Tilley Author: Rachel Tilley

As dedicated document management experts, we find 'free document management software' a little hard to get our heads around.  How can a good document management system be free, as we are firm believers that you get what you pay for. 

But, when we started to think about it a little more, 'free document management software' could be the equivalent of orgnisation's simply doing nothing, or, carrying on with their own version of document management. 

This could be managing documents across paper files, network folders, OneDrive and SharePoint.  Systems that work to a certain extent, but during busy periods they buckle under the pressure, causing costly errors or compliance issues.

And hey presto!  That thought process gave us the idea for this blog.

The Problems with Free Document Management Software

The problem with free document management software is that on the whole, they don't continue to be free once the data builds up.  This can leave organisation's paying fees for a a very unhelpful and unstructured way of storing their documents.  The other possibility is they're not really using a document management system - or least what we would classify as a document management system. 

We googled 'free document management' and we were surprised to see a lot of results, until we looked a little closer.  Offers of free tools were for very basic systems, they were free up until a point, or, they weren't even free!  Instead, they had sponsored ads running on the words 'free document management'.

Of course, some of these systems will serve a purpose for some companies and we're not dismissing that.  We just question how helpful these will be without having to ploughing heaps of time into them.  And in our experience, we've also come across a lot of prospects and clients that had some sort of "free solution" and needed to move away from it.

Increased Manual WorkData breaches

Free tools often require more manual work, something a document management system should helping organisations move away from.  With SharePoint for example, it works well as a document repository, but relies on all staff saving and naming all documents in a uniform way.  

Scattered Records

For organisations managing documents across a mixture of network folders and email inboxes, how easy is it to find saved information? Employees can end up spending more time searching for documents than they should, time that could be better used elsewhere.

A Lack of Document Control

How long is it before you realise documents are missing, how many locations do you have to look in?  Likewise, how are duplicates avoided?  If there are multiple places documents are stored, what controls are in place to ensure it's not stored more than once?

Security and Compliance Risks

Security and compliance can also be problematic with free document management software. Often anyone with a link can view information, which could be easily and inadvertently shared over email.improving document security

Can documents be easily accessed by everyone?  Emails stored in an employee's inbox aren't accessible to all, causing problems during absences or holidays.  This results in more wasted time chasing colleagues for the information they need. 

If access isn't a problem, how do you go about restricting staff viewing documents they shouldn't be able to see?

Painful Audits

When it comes to compliance and collaboratively working on a document, free document management software can't always track changes or control document versions.  For certain types of audits, evidence is needed of who edited a document and what was changed.  Failure to provide this can result in a failed audit.

Lack of Support

With free document management software there's often no support when problems arise with the system.  Unless organisations have an IT team with the time to fix errors and sort upgrades, organisation's can be left with software they cannot use well enough to meet their requirements.

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The Benefits of Using a Dedicated Document Management Software

With dedicated document management software these problems are removed as the system is built specifically to support organisations with all aspects of document management.  No matter which department it's used in, or how tech savvy employees are or aren't, the software is continually updated to be the best solution for every day document management and business process challenges.

Centralised Documents

It creates a centralised and organised digital repository to securely store all business documents including invoices, contracts, drawings, images, employee info and emails.

Staff can quickly find the information they're looking for in one place, as documents are stored in a set way and no two of the same document can be saved into the system.

High Levels of Security

Unlike free document management software, a dedicated system such as DocuWare comes with a variety of security features to ensure business documents are safe.  Access is only available to authorised users, different edit, export and store rules can be applied depending on a users rule, multiple backups in robust data centres protect data from natural disasters, along with all communication traffic being encrypted.

Accurate Data Capture

A dedicated document management system comes with data capture tools to accurately take information from any scanned document, store this information and if required, push it into any integrated software

For example, when a supplier invoice is received, data such as supplier name, invoice number, date and invoice amount are automatically captured.  The invoice is stored against this captured data and a user can search by supplier name or date etc. to find the invoice in the future.

This invoice data can then be pushed into a ERP or finance package where it can be processed further, removing manual data entry and reducing points of contact.

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Dedicated Support

Buying a document management system through a reputable supplier means your company will have a knowledgeable and experienced team to support with any issues, or to enhance the system further.  A free solution may well come unsupported and / or be costly to develop.

Automated Workflows

A document management system that comes with workflow automation means manual and tedious tasks can be performed by the software.  Document approvals, checks and tasks can all be automated, with rules set up in the background of the software that follow your business processes without the need for high levels of manual intervention.


As the company grows, or requirements change, a system like DocuWare can easily adapt.  Peaks in business mean increases in documents such as invoices, contracts or delivery notes which DocuWare can deal with.  This may not be the case with free document management software.

Speak With Us

If your currently wondering whether free document management software could work for you, or you've outgrown your current system and need an upgrade, we'd welcome a chat.  The difference between a free solution and a system from us, is the people behind it. 

We have decades of experience in document management solutions, understanding our customers requirements and delivering solutions tailored to those requirements.  We have the skills and the knowledge to build bespoke solutions, to integrate with third party applications and to provide the latest technological advancements.  Our document management software will never be free, but we guarantee you a return on your investment. 

Book a FREE Demo

Contact us now for more information 0161 647 7040