Importing Documents Into a Document Management System is Easier Than You Think

Copy File, Data Exchange. Transfer file concept


Even with a compelling business case for moving to a document management system (DMS), companies sometimes choose to stay with their “homegrown” process, often comprised of a combination of three-ring binders, spreadsheets, and a shared network drive.

Cloud-based and on-premise DMS solutions are easier, faster and more reliable than a “manual” document management process. So, why would companies choose to wrestle with version control issues, time-consuming searches for documents, missing documents, and a lengthy document approval process? Often, it’s because of the seemingly daunting task of a data transfer.

Importing hundreds or thousands of documents and associated data into a new document management system may seem like a cumbersome, complex and time-consuming undertaking. Yet, the first thing customers tell us after making the move is, “That was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be!”

Document Management Timelines

Document management system transfers, typically, can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months. Of course, this depends on the number of documents and the complexity of data to be imported. Twenty documents can be migrated quicker than 1,000. If data needs to be validated for regulatory purposes, it will also require more time.

For some companies, moving to document control software is a priority. They fully staff the project and switch to their new DMS in a week or two. Other companies expand their use of a document system in phases. They prioritize and transfer sets of documents that are categorized by department or document type. This approach may take several months, but it suits their business needs. Every company, every situation is different.

Preparing for Document Control Software

One thing is the same, though: Preparation. Preparation and planning represent 90% of the work on any size document control software project. Before the document control software can receive the migration, users must plan workflows, create content types, map reference links between files, identify users, define groups, and more. But, it’s worth it. Good preparation ensures a smooth migration.

This level of preparation helped a customer get a handle on all the documents they needed to manage in their DMS. It helped them think about their numbering schema, folder structure, templates, overlays, document location, and more. Not only did they migrate about a dozen different kinds of documents, but they also had them configured in an efficient and streamlined way on day one.

The document migration, itself, can usually be done in a day. Different tools exist, to assist with the migration. Documents can be manually imported into the document management system using a simple batch process. More robust migration tools will also import data points, such as creation date, version number, approver information, next review date, document status and more. For users that need to move documents, historical data, and rules, this is the way to go. On top of this, data migration services offered by the document management system provider make the entire process run even more smoothly. And, if unexpected issues should arise, the provider can quickly resolve them.


The business case for a DMS is compelling. Companies usually see an ROI in a matter of months. Some, in less than a month! Even if a document and data transfer were difficult, the efficiency gains that document control software can provide would still be compelling. Fortunately, with some good up-front preparation, powerful data and file migration tools and helpful services, it’s easy for companies to get all the benefits a document management system offers. To get started on importing your documents, contact the DMS experts at DocXellent.