What to look for in an Electronic Document Management System (EDMS)

Every customer should view EDMS as a strategic asset to their business; after all, the system manages the business vital records. EDMS by their nature are complex systems, but for the majority of the Small/Medium Business (SMB) customers the following requirements are sufficient:

Number of Databases allowed

Many software vendors sell their products with limitation on how many databases the system will support. Make sure you are getting the product that has no limit on the number of databases you can create.

iScan's SimpleDOX does not restrict the number of databases that can be created. A SimpleDOX user could store and securely separate an unlimited variety of documents from their personal files and business with the same copy of SimpleDOX.

Imaging Data Format

The imaging file format should also be non-proprietary. Many electronic record management (ERM) experts insist on using TIFF image format since numerous Federal and State regulations related to ERM specify TIFF as the acceptable file format. Many EDMS software vendors use the GIF/JPEG image format for their files to save on space without paying attention to these possible legal issues when data archives or backups are created.

iScan stores its files in TIFF format, the only legally accepted document for digitized storage. Storing in other formats does not give you legal grounds to destroy the original documents!

Storage of Imaging data files

There are two types of data that EDMS stores, the index data (text) that is used by the system to find the record, and the image file created by the capture process. A common method used by many software vendors is to store the index data and the image file within the database file, which creates limitations on how many records the database can store, and performance issues as the database grows in size. A more robust implementation used by other vendors including iScan, stores only the index data in the database, and the image data files is in a separate folder system independent from the database engine file. Using this schema allows for more imaging data to be processed and performance is optimized.

iScan's SimpleDOX stores both of these types of data. Notably, SimpleDOX can have a theoretically infinite amount of index fields defined by its users. The amount and type of data stored is completely flexible.

Exporting Data

A common business practice for most businesses is exchanging data with their partners, and because other businesses may use different file format, the customer must make sure that the EDMS allows data export to industry standard formats.

iScan's SimpleDOX software uses non-proprietary industry standard image file formats, and provides a way to easily export data.

Archive and Backup to CD-R media

Most businesses use data archive/backup for the following objectives:

  • Disaster recovery.
  • Free up storage space and optimize server performance.
  • Free valuable office space by destroying their paper records since these records exists on non-editable CD-R media.
However, many overlook the fact that storing data on CD-R is not enough to create an electronic legal copy of the paper document and therefore, one can not destroy the paper documents. Federal and State regulations specify rules to be met before an electronic record is considered acceptable as a legal copy of the paper original. Good examples of some of these regulations are HIPPA and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. Using an EDMS that stores its images in GIF or JPEG format, for example, is not compliant to legal regulations: however many low cost EDMS's store their data in this format. SimpleDOX stores its data in standards compliant TIFF format.

iScan prides itself in providing legally compliant archival solutions.

Search and Retrieval

Searching and retrieving is a primary function of any EDMS. Businesses should evaluate the search engine capabilities and make sure they can search using:

  • By text content. This requires the ability to perform OCR on the document.
  • By Index field data. This is the most efficient way to locate records in the database. Make sure the engine support logical operators to find records.
  • Virtual Filling System (VFS). The VFS is a virtual directory system similar to windows explorer used to organize SimpleDOX documents. You can use the VFS to browse and find any document in the system.
iScan provides all of the aforementioned search capabilities, and many more. SimpleDOX users can search by the date a Document was created or modified in the EDMS, and additional searching capabilities are planned for future releases.


Optical Character Recognition (OCR) is a very powerful tool to create text documents from images. The legal business community uses this technology extensively to perform legal case research and discovery; another use is format conversion, and in this case, businesses can scan their paper documents such as reports and apply OCR to convert them to Microsoft word or PDF document.

iScan currently provides document OCR capabilities for creation of documents as well as a basic searching mechanism. OCR support will continue to improve in future releases.

Database Format

The database engine should support the ODBC standard to maximize portability and interoperability.

iScan's databases are ODBC Compliant.

User Security

A robust EDMS should provide the ability to restrict document access based on permissions for complex organizations, while allowing ease of use for small businesses and individuals that do not desire complex security.

iScan's SimpleDOX product provides a full-featured user and group based security system that is only as powerful as you wish it to be. Individual or home users can easily set minimal or no security, while larger businesses can create a robust network of permissions that work for their whole organization.

License Type

Most software vendors sell user licenses in one of two types:

  • Fixed
    • In this case, only a fixed number of workstations are allowed to access the system at any given time. Example: In a two user license scenario, only two systems may legally have the software installed. Other systems that need to access the software must have licenses purchased for them in advance.
  • Concurrent
    • In this case, only a fixed number of users are allowed to access the system at any given time. Example: In a two user license scenario, any number of systems may have the software installed as long as only two access the software at once. This is ideal for scenarios where the business has many systems that need to access the system, but not necessarily at the same time.
iScan user licenses are Concurrent to allow maximum flexibility in use.

License Class

Licenses are sold in one of two types:

  • Viewer License
    • Allows the customer to search, retrieve, and view their documents. The ability to capture and archive documents, however, must be purchased seperately at an additional cost.
  • Full License
    • Allows the customer to capture and archive documents in addition to viewing and searching existing documents. You pay one flat rate for access to all of the features in the software that is usually lower in cost than paying for Viewer and Full licenses seperately.
iScan provides Full user licenses. This provides flexibility for our customers and saves them from the hidden charges of "full user upgrades" in many competitive systems.
What to look for