Document Management System vs ECM Solution: Which is Best?

With the influx of business information your organization gathers, generates and stores — whether paper or digital, it may be time to establish a true document management system or upgrade to a more robust solution. Yet, how do you know whether a document management system (DMS) or an enterprise content management (ECM) solution will work best?

There are a number of factors that influence this decision. Both systems provide common features, yet have different uses.

DMS defined:

A Document Management System is a computer system that tracks and stores your organization’s electronic documents. This system helps businesses organize, retain and protect electronic information. Document management systems, which provide a framework for all digital documents and records, are designed to control document life cycle from creation and retention to accessibility.

ECM explained:

An Enterprise Content Management system is a set of strategies, methods and tools combined with high-powered content management software to systematically capture, collect, organize, store access, and deliver content or documents to a particular audience. An ECM system can also handle many different file types associated with document management, managing unstructured electronic file formats such as email, graphics, images, web page content, video, multi-media files, and other tangible assets.

Document Management System or ECMHow are DMS and ECMS alike?

Keeping all of your business information — especially paper documents – in one place, is risky for a number of reasons. Natural disasters and fires can wipe out critical content. A document management system or ECM solution both offer centralized storage and a fail-safe answer for recovering electronically stowed information.

To preserve and safeguard your confidential company, customer or employee information, document management systems or ECM solutions offer increased security, preventing unauthorized access/use while enhancing regulations and compliance.

Both systems allow you to easily share files amplifying efficiency of any paper-intensive business process. Each system possesses the ability to automate workflows, keep assignments and projects on track. Workflows can ensure a task never gets lost in an employee’s inbox and gives visibility to bottlenecks.

How do they differ?

Document Management System or ECMAlthough document management systems are a subcategory of ECM, Enterprise Content Management solutions can’t exist without a document management system in place. DMS, at its core, is a simplified ECM system, focusing on managing entities as a whole rather than the extensive functionality of content management.

A document management system is your best bet when managing simpler documents for smaller organizations, as its benefits are rooted in document lifecycle management. This system manages how documents are created, reviewed, collaborated on and funneled through workflow. Yet, it also has a capacity for indexing and supports versioning.

However, ECM solutions are a better fit for larger organizations aiming to completely revamp their preexisting IT infrastructure. ECM systems best suit businesses that require configuring and managing large volumes of structured and unstructured data such as images, e-mail, video and other digital documents.

ECM solutions tend to appeal towards organizations handling extremely sensitive information such as healthcare professionals, universities, lawyers, etc. as key features include information analytics, imaging, business process management, more intense security/compliance and e-mail management.

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