August 7, 2022

Document management in Salesforce

Master document management in Salesforce with our comprehensive guide. Discover how to organize, share, and secure your files for a seamless workflow.
laptop and documents on a desk

Every Salesforce business process includes information and document management. However as numerous IT systems are used to support various corporate operations, documents might be generated and kept in multiple locations. The tricky part is that all participants of the vital operations must always have access to all related documents, whether or not they have access to the source IT system. This is where Salesforce's Document Management system comes in handy.

Understanding document management in Salesforce

Salesforce's Document Management system empowers organizations to take control of their information. From centralized storage to robust security measures, it’s designed to facilitate a more productive and secure document workflow. For instance, Salesforce’s Files Home serves as the central repository for all documents, regardless of their format. Users enjoy a unified storage space that cuts across different applications and facilitates easy organization through tags, comments, and user-created folders. Salesforce CRM Content allows users to manage, share, and track content. It offers robust version control, tagging, and permissions settings, ensuring that all documents are up to date and are securely shared with the right audience. Its integration within the CRM platform means sales teams have a seamless workflow, accessing the necessary documents within their daily tasks.

Salesforce Knowledge takes document management a step further by enabling the creation and sharing of articles and FAQs. This self-service content platform empowers both customers and employees with the knowledge they need. Easily searchable and organized, Salesforce Knowledge allows users to create a repository of educational materials, drastically reducing the time spent on answering common queries. Document Tab and Attachments features enrich the user experience by connecting documents to specific customer relationship records. When you can link documents directly to the context of a sales lead, opportunity, case, or other entity within Salesforce, it adds invaluable context. This contextual link makes it simpler to understand the history and latest interactions surrounding a particular record.

Salesforce DMS key components

Salesforce document management system (DMS) helps in organizing, sharing, and managing access to files across the organization. The core components of Salesforce’s DMS include libraries, folders, and files. Here's an overview of each:


Libraries serve as a way to categorize documents according to their purpose, project, team, or any other criteria that make sense for the organization. Key features of libraries include:

  • permission settings that allow administrators to control who can add, edit, or view the documents within the library;
  • the ability to group related documents, making them easier to find and manage.
  • metadata and categorization schemes, which help in sorting and filtering the content.


Folders provide additional granularity in the organizational scheme and can represent different categories, topics, or document types. Characteristics of folders include:

  • nested structures, which allow for the creation of subfolders to create a more detailed hierarchy;
  • inherited permissions from their parent library, with the option to set specific permissions for individual folders to restrict access further;
  • the folders can be used to organize files in a way that reflects the company’s processes, making it intuitive for users to navigate and find documents.


Files can be any type of document that an organization needs to manage, such as Word documents, PDFs, spreadsheets, images, and more. Features of files in Salesforce's DMS include:

  • version control, allowing users to upload new versions of a file while maintaining the history of previous versions;
  • file previews, enabling users to view the content of files without needing to download them;
  • sharing options to collaborate with team members within Salesforce or external users by providing secure, shared access to files.
  • association with other Salesforce records, such as linking a proposal document directly to an opportunity or a contract to an account.

All these components work together to create a cohesive document management environment within Salesforce.

Benefits of efficient document management in Salesforce

When document management is integrated with Salesforce, it creates a centralized repository where documents can be stored and shared. This centralization:

  • Facilitates real-time collaboration, enabling teams to work together on documents without having to send files back and forth through email.
  • Ensures that all team members have access to the latest versions of documents, reducing confusion and errors that can occur with multiple document versions.
  • Allows for easy sharing of information with external stakeholders by setting up secure portals or sharing links directly from Salesforce.

Salesforce document management solutions introduce hierarchical and metadata-driven organization, which allows for quick and efficient categorization, tagging, and retrieval of documents. Advanced search capabilities enable users to find documents quickly using keywords, metadata, or full-text search, enhancing productivity. Documents can be associated with specific accounts, contacts, or opportunities, providing a contextual view of relevant documents.

Streamlined business processes and workflow management are also achieved with effective DMS:

  • Automated workflow capabilities allow for the setting up of sequential approvals or processes, ensuring that documents move through the organization as needed without manual intervention.
  • Alerts and notifications can be configured to keep processes moving smoothly, ensuring that tasks such as document approvals don’t become bottlenecks.
  • Integration with existing Salesforce workflows allows for a seamless experience where document-related actions can be incorporated into broader business processes.

Using Salesforce for document management helps enforce compliance with internal policies and external regulations by maintaining detailed access logs and revision histories.

Security features such as access controls, permission settings, and encryption help protect sensitive information from unauthorized access or leaks. The ability to set up retention policies ensures that documents are kept for the required legal duration and then securely disposed of when no longer needed.

Setting up document management in Salesforce

Let’s commence by enabling the document management features within Salesforce:

  • Log in to Salesforce and navigate to the top right corner where you’ll find the “Setup” menu. Locate and select “Feature Settings” followed by “Salesforce Files”.
  • Choose “General Settings” and ensure the “Enable Enhanced Folder Management” setting is activated.
  • Save the changes. Your document management system is now online.

Now, let's organize your documents within the system:

  • Select “Files” from the Salesforce home page and go to the “Libraries” tab.
  • Choose the library in which you want to create folders; this can be your main Company Documents folder.
  • Click “New Folder” and name your folder appropriately for clear organization.
  • Creating custom folder structures:
  • Build upon these folders by creating a custom hierarchy that mirrors your organization’s workflow, projects, or teams.
  • Use the “New Folder” button within each folder to nest sub-folders as needed.

With your folders ready, it's time to populate them with content.

  • Navigate to the folder in which you want to store the document.
  • Click on “Upload” and select the file from your device.
  • Fill out the relevant details such as the document name, description, and any other metadata that will aid in future searching.
  • Bulk uploading documents:
  • Select “Files” and then “Libraries”.
  • Choose the library where you want to upload.
  • Use the “Add Files” feature and select multiple items to upload at once.

Control who can see and edit your documents by managing permissions. Setting document access permissions includes the following steps:

  • Navigate to “Files” and select the document you wish to limit access to.
  • Click on “Share” and choose the level of access you want the user or group to have (View, Edit, Manage).
  • Save the permissions to apply these changes.
  • Sharing documents with specific users or groups:
  • Select “Files” and locate the document.
  • Click on “Share” and enter the names or groups with whom you want to share the document.
  • Choose the access level and save the changes.

Advanced features and tools for document management

Let’s delve into some of the key functionalities that make Salesforce a powerful ally in managing your digital content.

  1. Document Version Control. The Salesforce module introduces a sophisticated version control system, enabling enterprises to maintain the authenticity and integrity of their documents. This feature not only keeps a detailed record of each modification but also provides the convenience of reverting to previous versions. With document version control, your use cases, such as updating sales collateral or revising legal documentation, are not only managed efficiently but also tracked to perfection.
  2. Search Capabilities. The search functionality of Salesforce's Document Management is designed to cater to the high-paced nature of modern business. Utilizing powerful indexing and semantic search algorithms, users can swiftly locate the exact document they need. This is particularly beneficial for customer service teams, who often require quick retrieval of documentation to answer client queries. The system’s ability to suggest related documents also contributes to a holistic information access experience.
  3. Document Security Permissions. The security permissions in Salesforce’s Document Management are crafted to safeguard your most confidential information. By implementing role-based access controls (RBAC), administrators can tailor access levels for individual documents or shared spaces. This ensures that HR documents with sensitive employee information are accessible only to authorized personnel, while still fostering an environment of collaboration across teams in shared spaces.

Automating document processes with Salesforce Workflows and Approvals

Imagine having a system that can create tailored documents at the simple push of a button, ensuring consistency and accuracy. Salesforce can do just that. Let’s take the example of a new lead coming into your system. With Salesforce workflows, you can set up a rule to automatically generate a welcome package with key company information, marketing collateral, and an introductory email. This not only saves hours of manual labor but also ensures that your new leads receive this vital information promptly, improving their customer experience and potentially expediting their conversion into clients.

Approvals are a critical part of document management, especially in the context of sales contracts. Salesforce allows you to design and automate multi-step approval processes. For sales contracts, the workflow might involve multiple stakeholders. Once a contract is drawn up within Salesforce, the system can automatically route it to the relevant approvers based on predefined criteria, such as contract value. Approvers receive notifications, can easily review the contract within Salesforce, and provide their decision. This streamlined process not only reduces the risk of errors or oversights but also keeps a clear audit trail, ensuring compliance every step of the way.

Salesforce can also handle document review deadlines automatically through proactive notifications. Let’s say a proposal requires review and sign-off within a week. When the document is created, a Salesforce workflow can be set up to automatically notify designated reviewers at the start, midpoint, and nearing the end of the deadline period. These reminders are triggered by set times and can be managed and tracked within the workflow rules. This kind of automation ensures that no critical document review is overlooked, maintaining productivity and ensuring that deadlines are met without the need for manual follow-ups.

To ensure that your workflows and approvals enhance, rather than complicate, your document management, remember these simple rules:

  • Involve your team early in the design process to understand their needs and pain points. This collaboration will lead to a more user-friendly system that your team will be more likely to embrace.
  • Each workflow should have clear objectives and map out every step from initiation to completion. This clarity prevents the workflow from becoming overly complex and ensures it meets the specific needs it was designed for.
  • While the flexibility of Salesforce workflows can handle complex tasks, simplicity is often the key to success. Start with straightforward automation and build in complexity as your team becomes more familiar with the system.
  • Automating a process doesn’t mean it’s set in stone. Regularly review and optimize your workflows to adapt to changing business needs and new features in the Salesforce platform.

Real-world applications

So, what departments can benefit from document management in Salesforce? We can assume sales teams have the most to win using a DMS. They work with a plethora of documents - contracts, proposals, and various client-related materials. Within the CRM system, they can quickly find documents relevant to a specific deal without wasting time on manual searches; they are more efficiently linked to the opportunity or account they belong to, which aligns with the sales process. The integration also encourages best practices as standardized templates and version control ensure accuracy and professionalism in all communication.

For the procurement department, managing supplier contracts, purchase orders, and vendor correspondence is their lifeblood. With Salesforce, procurement gains a centralized location where they can store, track, and manage these documents. They can easily source and compare supplier bids, ensuring that the best vendors are available for each project.

In the accounting realm, managing invoices, financial statements, and tax documents is critical. Through integration, accounting teams can set up a workflow where invoices can be reviewed, coded, and approved, all without leaving the CRM platform. Moreover, with Document Management in Salesforce, documents are maintained with a full audit trail, enabling rigorous compliance with financial regulations. The platform can also be customized to send alerts for payments, track due dates, and flag anomalies, ensuring that all financial processes are under control.

Challenges and solutions in Salesforce document management

Data integrity and quality maintenance are perhaps the most pressing challenges users of any DMS face today. Without clear guidelines, data can quickly become inconsistent and unreliable. Companies need to establish clear protocols for data entry, management, and security. Regular audits and a dedicated data governance team can help maintain and improve data integrity over time.

Also, data in Salesforce can become outdated or be entered incorrectly, which can lead to issues like undeliverable emails or wasted efforts on invalid leads. You need to implement regular data cleaning processes to update and remove irrelevant or incorrect data points. Deduplication tools can help ensure you're working with a single, accurate source of truth.

Finally, without proper training, employees may not understand the importance of data hygiene and quality control. Offer comprehensive data management training to all staff members. This should cover data entry best practices, tool usage, and why data quality is crucial for business success.

Best practices for managing documents in Salesforce

Remember these four tips to keep your Salesforce document management system organized and efficient:

  1. Consistent naming makes it easy for users to quickly recognize the content of a document and locate it within the system, reducing search time.
  2. Establish a hierarchy of libraries representing different teams or projects, and use metadata to categorize documents within each library.
  3. Create a standardized process for uploading new documents and updating existing ones. Establish a regular schedule for reviewing and purging outdated or unnecessary documents from your Salesforce system.
  4. Consider integrating Salesforce with third-party document management tools that offer more advanced features and customization.
Viktoriia Melnychuk
Content writer
“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.” ― Stephen King
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