Document Management App Development Guide and Case Study

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Max Litvinov

Jul 20, 2021 | 23 min read

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Did you know that the average American spends over five hours a day on a mobile device? If you want to reach your ideal customers, you may want to learn about the document management app development process.

Then, you can reach more users and customers, and you can help them be more productive.

But you don’t want to jump into developing an app without a plan. Read on to learn what goes into building a document management app.

Core Features of a Document Management App

When building a document management app, you should know what features to include. That way, your app can compete with existing apps on the market, and you can provide a unique service to your users.

Having these core features will allow users to enjoy the benefits of a good document management system. And since many people use these apps with others, you can easily get more downloads.

Consider the following features to cover as part of the document management app development process.

Input

One of the most vital features of a document management system is to offer multiple input methods. Then, users can choose the most effective method to add files to the app.

You should be able to add both physical files and digital copies to the system. Input methods can include using a phone scanner or building a scanner directly into the app.

Manual paper uploads and bulk uploads are also great for adding files. When it comes to digital files, consider building a document management system that works with email, web services, and other mobile applications.

Offering different input methods will give your users the flexibility they need to use your document management app. You don’t have to offer every option at first, but consider providing at least one choice for physical and digital files.

Sharing

Many businesses and teams use a document management system app to share files with people. Being able to share documents should be a standard feature of your program.

That way, business owners can share documents with their employees, either to read or edit. Your users won’t have to leave the app to send or receive files, such as through email.

Keeping users on the app can both save them time, and they can organize files within their organization. The owner can share files with just the people who need access and no one else.

Tracking

Good document management system architecture should also allow file owners to track their documents. A business owner or team leader may want to know when someone last viewed or updated a file and see who that was.

If something goes wrong, the owner will know who made the change. Even if nothing is wrong, if someone makes a significant update, the owner can talk with that person about the changes.

When an app doesn’t let you see who accessed a file, you can waste a lot of time on those updates. Make sure you allow people to track their files and changes within the app to help increase productivity.

Permission

Another thing to include when building a document management system is to allow permissions. For example, a business owner may not want to share financial documents with the customer service team.

You should also allow document owners to restrict what other users can do, such as view the document. Then, the owner can retain control over the file, which can be useful for official training documents that you don’t update much.

A good document management app should also allow owners to change permissions. If someone needs to update a document, the owner can give access to that person when necessary so that the owner doesn’t have to make all of the edits.

Versions

Sometimes, it can help to save a copy of a file each time you update it. However, that can be confusing once you have a ton of different versions.

Consider allowing users to view previous versions within the same document in your document management system app. Users will be able to save older copies, but they won’t have to clog their file management system.

Programs and operating systems let users restore prior versions as well. If you can add that to your app, you’ll make organization a lot easier on your customers.

The feature is particularly helpful for teams where multiple people are working on the same files. However, individuals can also benefit from not having as many documents to manage.

Check In and Out

You should also consider adding a check-out feature as part of your document management app development. This feature allows users to check files out and work on them without replacing or erasing data.

The file owner can view who has checked out the file at a given time, and they can see everyone who has worked on the file. Team members can access any document within the system and check it out.

This is a great addition to the more general file tracking feature because you don’t have to worry about losing data. Since the feature doesn’t require someone to delete information, you can protect your files while allowing staff to do their work.

Search

When building a document management system, you need to make it searchable. If users can’t search for file names or tags, the system is no better than a paper system.

A search function is one of the core parts of a good document management app. It should help users find documents quickly and then view or edit them.

Make sure you add a search bar that’s easy to find and access. That way, people can save time when using your organizational system, and they can get more work done.

Consider allowing people to search by file title and then view details about the document, such as the file type and size. Then, users can get an idea of the file without having to open it, which can be useful when needing to share something with another person.

Indexing

The next essential feature of your document management app is indexing. It helps the app provide more accurate search results when people look for a file.

Offering those better search results can also help with the app’s overall performance. When searches don’t take as long, the app can run more efficiently and find files in less time.

Adding a system to help index files is a great way to help your app run better. Consider using things like tags or date filters to help narrow a file search.

Metadata

Adding metadata to a document management app can also make searching easier on your customers. You can let users search by keywords, file type, and date of creation or edits.

The author name, tags, and categories also serve as metadata. If someone can’t remember a file name but know one of the keywords or who created the file, they can still find what they need.

Metadata is a crucial part of any good file management app. While it can make document management app development more complex, it’s worth adding the feature to make the software more convenient.

Digital Signature

You should also implement a digital signature feature to help people process and validate documents. A digital signature can tell you where a document originated, and you can use them like traditional signatures.

Digital signatures can look like passwords or personal identification numbers (PINs). They also involve public and private keys to help authenticate the signature.

Using digital signatures can help companies save time and money, and they can record when someone signed something. All of that is useful for various business documents, and they’re great for people who need to sign forms remotely.

Backups

While you may not want to think about it, bad things can happen to your file management system. Your computers could all crash and no longer work, or someone might steal a computer with essential files.

To protect your business and your customers, make sure your document management app allows users to back up their files. They should be able to back things up regularly and restore files at any time from anywhere.

Allowing for backups will give everyone using your app extra peace of mind in case something goes wrong. Hopefully, nothing will happen that affects someone’s files, but you want to prepare your app for the worst.

The Process of Building a File-Management App

Once you determine which features you need to add to your app, consider the typical file-management app development process. Like other apps, you’ll need to come up with the idea, hire a developer, and go from there.

However, hiring a good developer or development team is especially important for a more complex app. If you want to make sure all of the core features of your app work well, you don’t want to risk the process by hiring a new developer.

Whoever you hire should be able to work with you on the following steps.

Discovery Phase

Discovery is the first step to developing the best document management app. Consider how this phase might go:

  • Learn about a problem
  • Understand the problem
  • Define the issue
  • Brainstorm ideas
  • Create a quick prototype

After you have an app idea that solves a problem people have, you can move to the development stage. Fortunately, plenty of people have problems with document management, so it’s a great starting point for your app.

But you can take it further by considering your ideal customer and their needs. Maybe your customers include photographers or videographers who deal with different media files.

Or perhaps you work with lawyers who use a lot of contracts and written documents. You can develop your app to solve their specific issues.

UI/UX Design

User interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design are both crucial to the app development process. UI design refers to the visuals of an app or program, and it covers colors, shapes, menu layouts, and other design elements.

On the other hand, UX design focuses on how users will experience your app when they use it. It might include navigation of the app or interactions with your team members or your app’s website.

As you develop your app, you should consider both types of design. The app needs to be easy and intuitive for people to use, and it should look good as well. Don’t skimp on one type of design in favor of the other.

Coding

The coding stage is just as important as any other because this is where developers turn the idea into a reality. Developers can use a variety of coding languages, including:

  • React Native
  • Flutter
  • Python
  • Swift
  • Kotlin

Each coding language has pros and cons, such as compatible operating systems and complexity. When choosing a developer, don’t be afraid to ask about the coding languages they can use.

Coding can take a lot more time than stages, like discovery. You want to make sure your app functions well, and it can be almost impossible to do that in a few weeks.

Testing

After the initial coding is done, the next step in building a document management system is to test it. You or your developer should have access to the different devices that will be compatible with your app.

The testing stage needs to cover how each feature works and how it works with various operating systems. At this point, you need to look for any issues so that you can correct them before launching the app.

If problems do come up during testing, you or your developer will need to fix them. Then, you can repeat the testing process until you’re happy with the results.

Unfortunately, problems may still crop up in the future. As long as your app works well now, you can move to the next stage of the document management app development process.

Deployment

Ideally, you’d already know where you’ll deploy your app before you start developing it. However, now’s the time to finalize that choice and make sure your app is compatible with the platforms in question.

Android and iOS are the two most common platforms for mobile apps. Consider if either platform is better for your business and your customers or if you should deploy the app on both operating systems.

If you want to deploy the app on both platforms, you’ll need to use compatible coding languages and test the app on different devices. After that, you can decide when you plan to release the app so that you can get it on the App Store and Google Play.

Maintenance

Once you get your app up and running, you can celebrate your accomplishment. However, you need to maintain the app in a few ways:

  • Fix bugs as they appear
  • Keep the app compatible with system updates
  • Add new features

Maintaining your app is vital if you want to scale it and your overall business. As you develop the app, make sure your developer will help with maintenance and set aside time and money to help with that.

Document Management System Development Cost

Document management system development can cost more or less depending on various factors. On average, you can expect to spend about $220,000 over the course of six months.

In some cases, you may not need to spend as much money. However, other apps may cost way more to develop.

Think about the following to help you develop the app while staying within budget.

Developers

First, consider if you want to work with an individual developer or an agency. Hiring an agency, like Appvales, gives you access to a team of developers, so the project may not take as long.

If you hire a massive agency, though, it will probably cost more than a smaller company, such as Appvales.

You also want to consider how much experience the developers have. Think about how long they’ve developed apps in general and if they have experience building a document management app.

Complexity

While you don’t want to sacrifice any of the core features of a document management system, consider if you want to make it more complex. Then, determine if you’re willing to spend more to develop those extra functions.

A more complex app will require more hours to build, so it will cost you more in both time and money. In some cases, those extra costs are worth it since you can get a unique app.

However, you may not want to spend that much or wait as long to get your app ready.

How Appvales Built Document Management App Docomodo

If you want to develop a document management system app, consider how Appvales did that for Docomodo. The app helps users organize paperwork and stay on top of deadlines.

Appvales helped Docomodo develop the Ease-Away-Filing-System, which makes finding documents quick and easy. This feature works with anything from work to personal documents.

Take a look at the details behind this app and the development process.

Technologies

When developing the document management app, Appvales used three different technologies.

  • React Native
  • Firebase
  • Fastlane

React Native developers can use fantastic technology to create iOS and Android apps. Firebase is Google’s platform of choice for creating mobile apps, and it works well with React Native.

Meanwhile, Fastlane helps with the deployment of apps to both Android and iOS. Like Firebase, Fastlane works well with React Native, so it’s an essential part of the tech stack for developing Docomodo.

Project Timeline

The timeline for the project lasted about six months for the initial development. Note that this doesn’t include time spent on maintenance or updates, which happen later on.

Regardless of the initial development, maintenance is ongoing for apps like Docomodo. That way, the program will work with new versions of Android and iOS, and users won’t have to worry about bugs.

Six months is about the average timeline for developing an app, and there are plenty of features. If you want to develop a similar app, this case study gives you a good estimate of how long your app will take to develop.

Services Involved

Appvales focused on mobile development to create Docomodo. Other services available from Appvales include:

  • Product discovery
  • Product design (UX/UI)
  • App scale
  • Dedicated mobile developers

All of these services help develop the best document management system apps. Whether you already have an app idea or need help with that initial step, we can make it work.

Problem and Solution

During the development process, we found that a majority of workers between 18 and 54 years old spend too much time organizing documents. This problem is big enough that developing an app can help relieve some of that stress.

Docomodo helps people organize paperwork more easily, but it’s more than a file system. The app also reminds people about deadlines so that they don’t lose out on clients.

It’s easy to import files into the app, from using a scanner to dragging and dropping files from a computer. Docomodo will even create topics that help you organize your documents.

The Ease-Away-File-System speeds up the process of finding documents, so you don’t have to waste time. Plus, you can access it online and offline.

Platforms

Docomodo is available on both iOS and Android. Appvales worked remotely on the project, which made the process more convenient for the owners of the app.

Now, deploying the app to both major platforms worked well for Docomodo, and Appvales can help you with either. However, it’s important to research the market and determine if you want to start on one platform or the other.

The decision is very personal, so don’t let Docomodo or other document management apps affect your choice. Consider your ideal user and customer to help.

Document Management App Development Done Right

The document management app development process is similar to that of any app. However, there are some critical features and steps that take time.

If you want to compete with the more popular apps, you need to make yours stand out. And that can take time, money, and the right developers.

Consider what you want your app to look like and where you want to deploy it. Then, you can work with an agency like Appvales to turn your idea into a reality.

Ready to get started? View our mobile development services and get a quote today.

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Appvales is a mobile development partner that helps you design, build, test and deploy apps. We can handle end-to-end product development or collaborate with your product team with dedicated mobile developers.

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Written by:

Max Litvinov

CEO at Appvales

IT enthusiast, investor, entrepreneur. Bringing the offshore mobile development to the next level.

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