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What Is a Document Repository?

Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski
Staff Writer Staff
Updated Jan 23, 2023

A document repository can provide secure and efficient document storage for your business. Here's how to make it work for you.

Keeping your business’s documents organized and securely stored can be difficult and overwhelming, with seemingly endless options for digital document storage and organization. Document repositories, which function as part of document management systems, provide an easy, secure way to store all your documents in one centralized location. Read on to learn what a document repository is, how it is used and how you can set one up for your own business.

What is a document repository?

A document repository is a shared storage space that can be accessed by all approved team members. It is managed by users who have been granted admin rights and controls. Creating an organized document repository is a key part of having a document management system (DMS) that serves your business well. As such, document repositories are typically organized with the needs of users in mind, allowing them to search documents by title or keyword, group documents by team, or use a folder system to efficiently store documents.  

What is a centralized document repository?

A centralized document repository is an efficient way to save space and protect your important files in single digital space, which can:

  • Reduce the amount of storage space needed
  • Simplify backing up and file recovery
  • Prevent human error-based data loss
  • Provide security for sensitive information
  • Offer centralized access to documents

Editor’s note: Need a document management system for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

How are document repositories used?

Document repositories are used in a variety of ways, but they are most commonly used to ensure access to and protection for all of your business’s documents and files. Most businesses use their repositories as a single place where all employees can access Word documents, emails, scanned files, PDF files, external data, CAD files, pictures and other graphics.

Document repositories can be synonymous with or used as part of a DMS, which is an automated way to store, manage, and track electronic documents, as well as manage workflows, output systems, and information retrieval systems. The repository is crucial, as it is where all the documents are stored, and as such, must be accessible and well organized for it to serve its purpose.

One of the main uses for document repositories is to reduce data redundancy and “overcrowding” of files on your desktop or local drives. A document repository gives you a single storage space that is shared among all of your resources and employees, making it so that documents are not duplicated across departments and hoard necessary space. Additionally, the use of a document repository makes all of your documents searchable through the use of indexing and tagging, which ensures that document retrieval is quick and efficient, no matter who is searching for the document.

Document repositories can also protect your documents against unwanted changes – whether from malicious intent or errors – through version control, which tracks all changes made to a document and notes who made them. Administrators can set permissions to control who has access to which documents, and who can make which types of changes. This feature helps preserve the integrity of your documents and ensures that all changes are made by appropriate parties only.

You can use your document repository system to share and distribute documents to your employees or team members. The system will allow you to send out documents in any manner you need, including email or file transfer protocol.

6 benefits of document repositories

A document repository can provide several benefits to your business, from document protection to easier collaboration amongst team members, all built into the system.

1. Indexing

Indexing makes it easy to retrieve and organize documents. This is a process in which all your files are categorized and registered via metadata in your filing system based on specific criteria that you can customize, such as file function or size.

2. Security

Using a document repository helps protect your information and files by encrypting your data, among other safeguards, since a data breach or storage issue resulting in a loss of data or an unauthorized user gaining access to sensitive documents could be disastrous for your business. A document repository provides safeguards such as managed access control, an audit trail, automatic backups, and password protection.  In the event of a disaster, like a fire or flood, your files are stored safely in the cloud, away from physical harm.

3. Scalability

A major benefit of computerized storage over traditional storage is the ability to scale, or grow, the system alongside your business. To take advantage of this benefit, however, you need to choose software that allows you to add advanced features later on or upgrade to a higher plan so that you do not have to switch software.

4. Collaboration

A document repository makes it simple for users to share and collaborate on documents. Look for tools such as live editing, file sharing, document sharing, integrations with programs like Google Docs or Microsoft Teams, and access restriction.

5. Integrations

If your business uses a CRM application or ERP database, look for a single repository or DMS that integrates with these programs. This will make your daily workflow much easier by allowing you to access, edit, back up, and monitor documents that are created within your CRM or ERP. Most electronic document management systems integrate with email programs such as Microsoft Outlook.

6. Quick and easy document retrieval

With the right indexing, finding a document in a repository takes mere seconds, and can also allow employees to remotely access the documents they need. The problem with storing paper documents is that searching for the right document – when you have an entire business’s worth to go through – can be difficult and time-consuming, and can even cost you money. Record Nations found that the cost to store documents for a business with 100 employees would be roughly $622,500 without the use of a file manager, and $48,000 with the use of a file manager.

How to set up a document repository

If you are just starting out creating a document repository within a document management system, take the time to decide how exactly you want to organize and name your files. Developing a system for content management early on saves you a great deal of time – and headaches – later on, and will make it easy for anyone in your organization to find the files they need.

Follow these five steps to set up your system.

1. Collect your documents.

Start by gathering all the documents you want stored in the repository. These can be digital or paper files (though you will need to scan any physical documents). Organize them loosely – you don’t have to implement your entire system at this point.

2. Scan your paper documents.

If you have paper documents that you want to store, you can scan them using a scanner built into your printer, or you can download a mobile app such as AdobeScan, Dropbox or Genius Scan. A scanner will upload a digital file directly to your computer, while a mobile app will create a PDF or JPG file that is stored on your phone, or an online storage site, and can be exported to wherever you need it.

3. Decide on a naming system.

This step is where you determine the finer points of your filing system, and it’s important that you stick to what you decide. Proper and consistent naming makes it easy for anyone in your company to find documents. Consider the document’s function, content, creation date, how long it needs to be stored, and other key qualities when considering how to name it.

4. Integrate your paper and digital systems.

If you have both paper and electronic documents that each need to be kept in their original formats, try to integrate your two systems to work together as best you can. For example, scan all of your paper documents and store them in the repository so you have a backup in case something happens to your paper documents, and vice versa for an electronic document.

5. Get your team on board

Once your system is all set up, make sure your entire company is informed and trained on how the system works, and how you expect files to be named and stored going forward. Consider holding training sessions or incorporating file storage training as part of your new employee onboarding process.

Are there open-source document repository solutions?

Yes, there are open-source document management systems for document repositories. An open-source document repository is a platform that can be shared as a public source and modified to meet a business’s needs.

Open-source software is typically budget-friendly, easily accessible for small businesses, and is a flexible option that will work for many different types of businesses. Some of the most popular open-source software providers are:

Examples of document repository software

Here are some of our best picks for document management services, all of which provide document repositories.

  • Microsoft SharePoint is a comprehensive, versatile document management platform that is suitable for businesses of any size. It is easy to use, since the interface is familiar to users of other Microsoft products, and promotes easy collaboration with its team tools and multi-folder structure.

  • M-Files provides a breadth of features, making it suitable for businesses of any size. Its cloud storage system is easy to use, and boasts automatic updates, minimal maintenance requirements and significant security measures for electronic documents.

  • Dokmee is a user-friendly document management system that features data encryption of all digital files, as well as a built-in HIPAA-compliant audit log, which tracks access to sensitive documents and helps keep your data safe and secure.

  • FIleHold is an easily scalable service, meaning it grows alongside your business over time. FileHold is designed for businesses with five to 20 users, making it perfect for small businesses looking for an easy way to organize and secure their documents.
Image Credit: jdwfoto / Getty Images
Kiely Kuligowski
Kiely Kuligowski Staff
Kiely Kuligowski is a and Business News Daily writer and has written more than 200 B2B-related articles on topics designed to help small businesses market and grow their companies. Kiely spent hundreds of hours researching, analyzing and writing about the best marketing services for small businesses, including email marketing and text message marketing software. Additionally, Kiely writes on topics that help small business owners and entrepreneurs boost their social media engagement on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.