So, you’ve decided to invest in an Engineering Document Management System (EDMS). The next question is, what kind of EDMS should you go for? What features should you prioritize? In this post, I’ll guide you through the essential features to look for in an EDMS solution.

First and foremost, your document management solution should strike a balance between effectiveness and complexity. While you want enough features to ensure efficiency, an overly complicated system could lead to the need for an extensive IT infrastructure and personnel, which defeats the purpose. Therefore, consider a cloud-based solution, such as Software as a Service (SaaS), which offers an EDMS available through a subscription model. This approach allows you to reap the benefits without the overhead.

Now, let’s delve into some fundamental features to consider.

For engineering companies, it’s vital to find a document management system tailored to your specific industry. Engineering processes have distinct requirements that differ significantly from sectors like retail, finance, or healthcare. While a generic one-size-fits-all solution might seem tempting and cost-effective, it often falls short, necessitating extensive customization and training, resulting in higher costs down the line. My advice is to steer clear of non-specialized EDMS solutions from the beginning.

So, what engineering-specific features should you look for?

To answer this, we should consider the context of IT evolution within the Engineering, Procurement, and Construction (EPC) sector. While new features can be enticing, are they genuinely cost-effective? My recommendation is to think long and hard about it. IT solutions will continue to evolve, but I believe there are four mission-critical features that are absolute must-haves, with room for considering additional features later.

These four essential elements are:

  • Data security
  • Version control
  • Integrated workflows
  • Automated notifications

They form the foundation of any high-performing document management system that offers measurable ROI and, equally importantly, evolves with your organization to provide long-term value.

Document security is a paramount consideration. In the digital age, concerns about security breaches, mishandling of sensitive data, accidental data loss, and various forms of cyberattacks are prevalent. A robust EDMS should encompass security features designed to address all these issues, managing various data file types shared across multiple stakeholders while accurately reflecting real-world engineering processes. It should also handle the multiple review, approval, and transmittal procedures inherent in engineering projects.

Version control is another must-have in a document management system. Construction projects generate numerous documents, each with multiple versions. Managing these documents across disciplines, teams, and locations is an intricate task and a significant project management challenge. With a digital document management system, this complexity is efficiently addressed. The system can seamlessly number and track all documents from creation to release, including multiple versions. This enables instant insight into document changes, status, pending items, and more. This frees up human users to focus on more valuable work, and the organization benefits from having a single source of truth that’s immune to misuse or misinterpretation.

Workflow automation is another critical feature to look for. If we consider that nearly half or at least 45% of all repetitive and time-consuming tasks performed by paid workers can be automated, the potential cost savings and enhanced efficiency are substantial. Modern document management systems are more than just document repositories; they also function as document workflow management systems, complete with built-in workflows tailored to the engineering process. Implementing such a system automates tasks, replacing manual workflows with digital processes.

Automated or system-triggered notifications are another vital feature. An EDMS can be configured to send notifications under specific circumstances, such as when a document is modified or when a deadline is approaching. These notifications save time, effort, and reduce frustration.

In conclusion, as the use of EDMS continues to expand in the EPC industry, many of the project bottlenecks that used to plague projects will soon become a thing of the past.


Andy is renowned as a servant leader in global ERP and Enterprise solutions. He combines powerful communication and negotiation skills with deep business insight. Proficient in steering complex projects to success, he is always focused on the broader enterprise value. Currently, he is spearheading business operations at Wrench Solutions in North America.