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It's tougher to stay connected in business today than ever before. Synergy is challenging to achieve with the way "morning company meetings" have become a thing of the past. Nevertheless, it's vital to stay on the same page with everyone to continue to prosper. Imagine if you could have a virtual workspace where everyone could stay connected without physically being in the same room.

Document management software makes this possible by organizing your company's electronic documents. The software manages the complex process of storing, tracking, and retrieving your documents in a way that makes sense. It sets procedures for how documents are created, edited, accessed, published and deleted. The software has become a must-have as companies continue to go "paperless" and it allows people to access the documents they need anywhere there is an internet connection.

Types of Document Management Software

Just like other types of software, electronic document management systems are available in two forms:

  • On-premise software is installed onto your desktops and servers and managed by an in-house IT staff.
  • With hosted software, also known as Software as a Service, your documents are stored by an outside service provider on their servers. Your employees access documents through a secure web-based portal.

On-premise software requires a large upfront expense, while hosted software charges a monthly fee spread out over the life of the contract. The major benefit to on-premise software is that you have more in-house control over the system and how it operates, while hosted software is popular with companies who don't have a large IT staff or can't afford to spend the large chunk of money upfront.

Electronic document management software should manage a wide variety of document types, including emails, Microsoft Office documents, PDFs and faxes. Popular features of the software include:

  • A search function to quickly locate the documents you need
  • "Version control" that restricts who can edit documents and when
  • Workflow management features that set a "path" for how every document is routed
  • Scanning, tagging, and indexing capabilities
  • Check-in/checkout features that ensure only one person at a time is working on a document

On-Premise Document Management Software Average Costs

The price of on-premise document management software depends heavily on the number of users within your company. An average cost estimate is about $1,000 per user. Companies with 10 users, for example, can expect to pay $10,000 or more; while large corporations with 100+ users should budget at least $100,000.

Those estimated costs do not include initial consulting and setup fees, which can run several thousand dollars, and annual maintenance and support, which can cost about 20 percent of the total purchase price each year. The price does not account for the time your IT staff will spend implementing and managing the system. And if you need another server to store the data, budget an extra $5,000.

Hosted Document Management Software Average Costs

Hosted document management software runs anywhere from $400 to $3,000 per year. The low end of that price range covers the small businesses. With a small plan you'll be limited to a small amount of storage and, perhaps, a limited number of users. Mid-sized companies can expect to pay about $1,000 per month, while large corporations could pay $2,000 or more. Some document management services charge a setup fee or a training fee to teach a few people the "ins" and "outs" of the software.

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