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Updated Oct 30, 2023

Document Tracking Services 101

Digitizing your paper records might seem like a gargantuan task. However, with document tracking software, not only is it manageable, it could vastly improve the way your business operates.

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Kiely Kuligowski, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Strategy
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Table of Contents

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The days of paper stacks and rows of filing cabinets are behind us, replaced with digital files neatly stored in the cloud. Business documents nowadays are almost entirely digital, which enables a host of extra features that make day-to-day tasks much easier. Read on to learn everything you need to know about document tracking services, including what they are, key features you should look for, and how using document tracking software can benefit your business.

Editor’s note: Looking for a document management service for your business? Fill out the questionnaire below to have our vendor partners contact you about your needs.

What is a document tracking system?

Document tracking is a key feature in some of the best document management systems, which automates the process of searching, accessing, editing and managing electronic documents or files. With a document tracker, you can control who can view a document and see who has accessed it, what changes have been made, and who the document has been sent to.

Document tracking systems (also known as file tracking systems) are most commonly used in the financial, healthcare and legal sectors because of the sensitive nature of their documents.

>> Learn More: Statistics That Will Make You Rethink Your Document Management

Document tracking system vs. document management system

Though document tracking systems are very similar to document management systems and are often included as a feature of a DMS, they are not synonymous. The main difference is that document tracking has a more specialized focus (tracking), whereas document management systems provide a wide range of features, including collaboration, document sharing and transferring. 

TipBottom line
The most helpful document management software will allow your team to work and collaborate in one central location; your team shouldn’t have to manage your files/documents across multiple programs.

Why should you track your documents?

There are many reasons you should track your business’s documents. First and foremost, it provides a big opportunity to optimize your daily operations by speeding up the process of filing as well as providing you with key data about your business. A document tracking system can automatically collect data on your customers, clients, investors and competitors, and reveal how your employees use (or don’t use) the documents you send out to them.

These are some things your DTS can tell you:

  • Who opened the document
  • When they opened it
  • How far they read before closing it
  • How often they open it

These are some additional benefits of a DTS:

  • Security: Tracking your documents provides security, especially if your business frequently deals with important or confidential information. You will have complete control over: who accesses a document and can see exactly who has viewed it; who has made changes and when those changes were made; and whether the document was sent to anyone.
  • Productivity: Tracking your documents allows you to see edits, which can help you keep your team on track and on the same page.
  • Audit trails: Document tracking makes it incredibly easy for your company to create an audit trail by automatically keeping track of all changes made to each document, complete with timestamps.
  • Accessibility: Many document tracking systems enable access to your documents from anywhere and from any device, allowing you and your employees to make changes anytime.
  • Low environmental footprint: A document tracking system helps your company go paperless, which benefits both you and the environment by eliminating your mounds of hard copies.
  • Third-party integrations: A document tracking service enables you to integrate with other productivity-boosting applications, such as your CRM, accounting software or calendar. This enables a seamless transfer of information across all facets of your organization.
Did You Know?Did you know
Select document tracking systems offer AI-powered technologies to help protect your documents from cyber attacks, data leaks, breaches and unwanted accessors.

Key document tracking system features

When you’re choosing a document tracking service, there are a few features you should look for. Before you begin your search, list all the features you think you might need, and categorize them into “must have,” “would like to have” and “could live without” to help you make your decision.

Here are a few key features you should look for:

  • Document storage: A DTS will store all of your company’s documents in one centralized place, making for easy search and retrieval. Many systems use cloud storage, which adds an extra layer of security for your documents.
  • Document processing automation: Document tracking software makes it easy to process your documents with a built-in processor, which can speed up your workflows. This typically includes importing and exporting data from Microsoft Office or Excel.
  • Collaboration tools: A document tracking service enables easy collaboration for employees by allowing multiple team members to work on a single document without waiting for individual changes to be made. If needed, one team member or manager can create access restrictions to maintain security or confidentiality.
  • Document security: If you work in a field that often deals with sensitive information, such as healthcare or legal services, this is an extremely important feature. Document security allows you to control access to documents, and some systems can even automatically follow important regulations under HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley, FDA Good Manufacturing Practices or ISO 9000/9001.
  • Disaster security and recovery: It is vital to find a software company that prioritizes the protection of your information and files, since a data breach or storage issue could be disastrous for your business. Look for a provider with an established, flexible plan that can adjust to fit your unique needs.
  • Version control: Also known as versioning, version control allows users to safeguard and track changes made to documents within your document management system. Version control ensures that all new edits are tracked and saved, and that older versions of documents are archived in the system for reference.
  • PDF document editor: This feature will make it seamless and easy for you to edit PDF documents and add text, checkboxes, text boxes or other customizations.
  • Bulk upload: If you often need to upload many documents at once, this feature can make the process much faster and more efficient by allowing you to complete the upload with one click.
  • Mobile access: This feature is great for companies that have remote employees or workers on the go. It allows you to access documents from any device, including laptops, desktops, tablets and mobile phones.
  • Advanced search: If your company deals with large volumes of files each day, an advanced search feature can make your day-to-day life much easier by locating files in an instant, allowing you to search by document type, metadata or company-specific information. This process is also referred to as indexing.
Bottom LineBottom line
Document tracking systems can help automate the process of accessing, searching, and editing documents while allowing you to control who views or edits a document.

The best document tracking software

To help you choose the best document tracking software for your organization, reviewed the best document management services. These are our best picks:

  • M-Files: M-Files is a great option for businesses of any size, offering easy-to-use collaboration and workflow automation tools in addition to its powerful document tracking tools. Learn more in our review of M-Files.
  • FileHold: FileHold offers several affordable pricing plans and plenty of options to scale up as your company grows. Learn more in our comprehensive review of Filehold.
  • DocuWare: DocuWare’s capabilities include completely programmable automation tools for human resources, marketing and sales, as well as integrations with several third-party apps. Learn more in our complete review of DocuWare.

Additional reporting by Sean Peek.

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Kiely Kuligowski, Senior Writer & Expert on Business Strategy
Kiely Kuligowski is recognized for her expertise in project management and business software. With a strong background in project oversight, she excels in defining project scopes, monitoring timelines and ensuring high-quality deliverables for a diverse range of clients. In addition to her proficiency in project management, Kuligowski also possesses experience in product marketing and has made valuable contributions to business fundraising endeavors. In the realm of business software, Kuligowski has reviewed a number of modern digital tools, such as email marketing services and document management systems, and advised business owners on purchasing decisions and usage best practices. Recently, Kuligowski has focused on sustainability software and project management at IBM, further establishing her as a respected authority in her field.
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