Document Management Software vs. ECM1 Jul, 2012 imageSource
In the business of information management, one can naturally become lost in a sea of acronyms and technical lingo. ECM, DMS, SaaS, cloud computing, MFP, and OCR are industry terms that simply do not hold intrinsic value in everyday-speak. More often than not, such jargon confuses the very demographic IT sales seek to connect with, making for an ironic “limbo”- knowledge worker vs. sales vs. consumer. Two of the most widely used and commonly confused acronyms are Document Management System (DMS) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM).
Having a general understanding of the difference between the two can surely make the research, planning, and buying processes less painful- knowing what the terms mean, as well as what is readily available and necessary for one’s successful business plan is key. The disparities between ECM and DMS are not astronomical. Gaining insight on the differences, paired with how the simpler solution (DMS) can benefit your business plan is an imperative, yet easy, precaution to take when creating a paperless office.
Enterprise content management is generally understood to be the strategies, tools, and methods used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to key organizational processes. Think of it as an intelligent being able to automatically recognize content within documents and “know” where/whom to send it to.
Engrained with advanced technology to automatically index scanned-in content, ECM focuses on the management of unstructured information including: images, graphics, web page content, email, video, rich media assets, and other intangibles. Risk-driven users are generally the most drawn to this system, in that it provides risk management and business continuity, along with compliancy to strict governmental restraints. Think doctors, lawyers, universities, etc. Key features in an ECM include: email management, imaging, digital asset management, document centric collaboration, workflow, and business process management, to name a few.
The intuitive nature of enterprise content management systems make it a speedy and concise solution for those seeking to manage and configure high volumes of unstructured data, and who are able to accommodate a much higher price point, of course. A highly interactive option, enterprise content management is best suited for non-standard tasks and/or business plans, and those willing to take on a greater burden of responsibility.
Document management controls the life cycle of documents in your organization (and/or clients) — how they are created, reviewed, and published, and how they are ultimately disposed of or retained. Consider it as a digital filing cabinet, allowing you the ability to maintain control of your documents without the possibility of misplacing them. This aspect of the industry focuses on managing entities as a unit rather than the comprehensive, and extensive, manner in which ECMs function. One could compare DMS to guiding a mouse through a maze by following cheese being pulled on string, rather than ECM; where the cheese sits at the labyrinth’s end and the mouse instinctually knows how to reach it. Document management systems are often confused with, but in reality are almost a sub-category of enterprise content management systems. The symbiotic relationship between the two lies in that ECM could not exist without its “manage” function, which refers to DMS in its simplest form.
Features that are common in efficient DMS include: indexing, workflow, versioning, and audit trails. Workflows are a highly advantageous amenity guiding a document from theoretical “birth to death.”
For example, consider a typical accounts receivable scenario: an invoice is received and must be approved by one or more person, then the document travels to another person or group where a payment order will be processed, it may then need to be reviewed by another person/manager for final approval, once final approval has been met, payment must be sent out and the invoice filed as “paid.” Workflow allows a rules-based system in which the main administrator can delegate to whom, when, and after which edits and approvals a version of a document can move along in the process to completion. Through this workflow process, there are typically audits performed and checks and balances completed to ensure not only proper efficiency but compliance with rules and regulations.
As mentioned earlier, compliance is sometimes a prioritized influence for those in search of solutions, and a robust, easy to manage workflow is a major benefit to be acknowledged in ones evaluations of ECM vs. DMS.
Add-on tools and modules are common in most ECM and DMS packages. While it may be ideal for businesses to pick and choose the features and modules they want, it may get a bit overwhelming for the mind and the pocketbook. However, tools such as a comprehensive workflow, full-text OCR, virtual PDF printer, automatic email importing, monitoring network folders/copiers/fax servers, and Microsoft Office toolbar add-ins are available in software such as Office Gemini’s all-inclusive, uniquely bundled and budget friendly DMS solution, Dokmee: Document Management Software. In most ECM or DMS solutions these features would be considered an additional add-on module to be purchased. The benefits of using either ECM or DMS are self-evident. It’s about discernment in choosing the right solution.Visit www.OfficeGemini.com.