What key pillars will drive business in 2023 and beyond?

We’ll give you a hint: 



And agility.

Traditional ways of operating businesses are becoming obsolete as information becomes more digitalized with each passing day. The more innovative, efficient, and agile you are, the more likely your startup will succeed in the marketplace. 

Enter: Strategic systems, the lifeblood of successful businesses.

Strategic systems encompass all three pillars. From sales processes to daily operations to communication cadences, strategic systems help new businesses become profitable and scalable. 

But there are some systems that startups tend to overlook …

Document management systems.

Document management systems allow businesses to better organize and manage documents, which can boost productivity and eliminate information silos.

In today’s article, we’ll take a closer look at what a document management system is and nine reasons it should be part of your startup. 

What is a document management system? 

A document management system is a type of software that helps you create, organize, and store electronic documents. You can also collect electronic signatures, collaborate on documents with peers, and generate important contracts, agreements, and forms.

Some document management systems come with pre-built templates.

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For instance, our software – UsefulPDF –  offers over a thousand templates, some of which include:

You can also use document management software to create your own templates. For instance, if you host regular board meetings, you might decide to create a board resolution template or a meeting minutes tracker. Or, if you need to create sales documentation, you can do that as well.

Let’s take a closer look at why startups should implement document management systems from the get-go. 

1. Reduce the workload on your employees 

Getting lost in multiple windows? Are you manually creating the same contract again and again? 

Your employees don’t have time for that. And neither do you. 

But when you have document management systems in place, your employees can pull important forms, generate contracts, and collect signatures in a manner of seconds. And you know what that means? More time available to spend doing work that really matters. 

Here are some additional ways a document management system can support your employees:

  • Eliminates information silos
  • Provides ready-made resources 
  • Supports the project management process
  • Keeps daily documents organized
  • Creates a go-to knowledge hub or resource bank

2. Get organized and save time 

Nest important docs under organized labels, categorize your templates, and never get lost in the contract abyss again.

With document management systems, you can organize any document tied to your business for easy access and distribution.  

You can also find software that’s designed for your specific industry or choose a general tool that’s flexible enough to handle multiple use cases. 

For instance, if you’re opening a vet clinic or a pet-friendly apartment community, you might decide to give a digital pet management system a try. 

Or, if you’re a chiropractor or physician, you might consider trying chiropractic document management software or healthcare document management software.

If you’re not set on a specific industry tool, try a well-rounded option like UsefulPDF, which can be customized for any type of business.

3. Lower your risk of malicious document loss and data breaches

Having safe and reliable document management systems is key to doing your part in preventing cybercriminals from accessing sensitive information.

Malicious document loss doesn’t just create productivity-threatening information silos. It can also tamper with your business reputation and lead to serious risks, like company breaches and data leaks.

On an individual level, IBM cited that the cost per lost or stolen record in 2021 was $180. It was known as the costliest record type of all. 

On a global level, lost business represented the largest share of breach costs, averaging a total cost of $1.59 million. Among losses included decreased revenue during system downtime, client turnover, and the high costs of getting new business due to a diminished reputation. Ouch!

4. Streamline the onboarding process 

We can’t say enough about the ease of onboarding when you have solid document management systems in place. 

Need to welcome new clients? Send over a work agreement and collect their digital signatures, stat. 

 Screenshot of a signing order software feature.

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Do you have new employees joining your team next week? Generate W2s, NDAs, and HR forms in seconds. 

Need to make your new vendor partnership official? Collaborate on a scope of work contract without ever leaving your home office. If, in any of these cases, you use email, don’t forget to do a DKIM check to ensure your emails are safe from spoofing or phishing attacks. This will also ensure any documents you share or receive are safe.

5. Make approvals faster 

Whether you need to review project plans, decide if you can accept a work order, or double-check employee submissions before giving the green light, document management tools can help you manage all of your approvals faster. 

Simply create your templates and configure your document approval workflows — and voilà! 

To streamline this process, start by designing your approval process. For instance, that could mean:

  • Step 1: Review work order
  • Step 2: Add comments
  • Step 3: Send to project manager for second review
  • Step 4: Project manager accepts or denies request
  • Step 5: Work order is rejected or accepted 
  • Step 6: Communicate next steps to stakeholders

Then, create your work order, project proposal, and project approval templates. After that, you just need to set up the document approval workflows we mentioned earlier and you’re all set.

6. Facilitate the collaboration process 

And speaking of stakeholders …

Document management systems can help you collaborate with employees, clients, and stakeholders on ‌important contracts or forms throughout the entire document lifecycle.

Perfect for both internal and external collaboration, document management software can help you with:

  • The document creation process 
  • Document editing and approval stages
  • Document storage and organization decisions 
  • Distribution options 
  • Retrieval options 
  • Usage workflows 
  • Version control
  • Permanently archiving or destroying the doc

Examples of documents you might decide to collaborate on include:

  • Project scopes and timelines 
  • Project proposals and pitches 
  • Meeting presentations 
  • Legal agreements
  • Applications 
  • Idea maps 
  • Blog content 
  • Newsletter content
  • Gated content assets
  • Contracts
  • NDAs

7. Automate document management 

Standardize your documentation process with document automation.

Reduce human error, create a better end-user experience, and facilitate ‌asynchronous, remote collaboration with document automation.

Not sure what document automation means? It’s a way to standardize the documentation process by collecting data related to a document (via technology) and using it to create a new document without manual intervention. 

You can do this by setting up rules and conditions that the software will carry out to produce your document — you essentially start with a base template and go from there. Start simple by inserting just a few tags or go as complex as creating many conditional rules based on if-then statements.

For instance, if you’re in sales, you might automate documents like:

  • Sales deck slides 
  • Proposals
  • Quotes
  • Invoices
  • Lease agreements
  • Purchase orders

8. Map data for you automatically 

And speaking of document automation, some document management systems can also automate data mapping.

With automated data mapping, the software works to quickly match data fields from one source to another so you can create new documents quickly and easily.

For instance, if someone on your team needs to create a new invoice, data mapping can copy over any mandatory fields from a previous invoice to the new one. From there, your employee can customize the rest of the invoice as needed. 

Again, this also goes back to supporting your employees by removing the need to work on mundane, repetitive tasks that are simply unnecessary and a major drain on company time.

9. It’s not expensive to get started 

One of the top perks of using a document management system is that it’s a relatively affordable tool compared to other tech costs. 

For instance, the UsefulPDF platform starts at $40 per month, paid yearly or $45 per month paid monthly for the Core package. 

That includes:

  • One user ($12.50/m for additional users)
  • 15 sign requests a month
  • Up to five custom templates
  • Automated reminder emails
  • Folder organization
  • Unlimited access to 1,000+ legal and business document templates
  • Intuitive document generation questionnaires

The Team package starts at $60 a month, paid yearly or $70 per month, paid monthly.

That includes:

  • Two users ($20/m for additional users)
  • Unlimited sign requests a month
  • Up to 15 custom templates
  • Automated reminder emails
  • Folder organization
  • Unlimited access to 1,000+ legal and business document templates
  • Intuitive document generation questionnaires
  • Contact storage
  • Advanced form fields
  • Custom post-signing messages
  • Redirect after signing
  • Advanced user role management
  • Signing hierarchy
  • And more

In comparison, PandaDoc’s Business package starts at $49 USD per month per user, paid annually or $59 USD a month per user, paid monthly.

The business package includes:

  • Unlimited legally binding eSignatures
  • Unlimited document uploads
  • Payments
  • Mobile app
  • Templates
  • Rich media drag and drop document editor
  • Document analytics
  • 24/7 email and chat support
  • CRM and Zapier integration
  • Content library
  • Custom branding
  • Approval workflows

Key Takeaways 

There are many things you have to worry about when managing a startup — from product development to legal issues to marketing strategies and more. 

If you’re like many entrepreneurs, you may be devoting more of your time to business development, leaving your administrative tasks to the wayside. Unfortunately, letting your documents become disorganized can be an easy way to lose sight of crucial information, making it difficult to access important files or records.  

By having document management systems in place, you can save your business a lot of time, money, and grief. It may not be a silver bullet — but it does ensure you’ll have a simple and efficient way to track and access important information.

If you’re ready to create document management systems for your startup, we hope today’s article has inspired you to take the first step. 

PS: Need document management software? We got you covered. Start a free trial today. Or try our individual apps