Enterprise Content Management vs Document Management

Organizations are increasingly looking for ways to manage their information digitally to help them operate more efficiently, increase productivity, and reduce cost.

In the world of information management, taking a look into the available solutions in the market will certainly make the decision makers confused specially with the technical acronym being used i.e. ECM and DMS

In this blog post, we will go through document management system and enterprise content management concepts in details and covering what is the difference between ECM and DMS (ECM vs DMS)

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Document Management System

AIIM defines a document management system as

Document management, often referred to as Document Management Systems (DMS), is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper based information captured through the use of a document scanner


in the early 90’s, companies started developing systems to manage electronic documents. The ultimate goal was to achieve what used to be called “Paperless Office”.

These systems contained all the functionalities needed for organizations to digitize, manage, locate, and circulate their documents in no time.

Some of the functionalities are:

  • Check out/ check in.
  • Download files.
  • Link documents
  • Manage document versions.
  • Flexible yet powerful security
  • Audit trails
  • Route documents from one person to another using workflows capabilities for documents review and approval.

These type of solutions gained a lot of attention because of the benefits they provide to the organization starting from cost reduction to maximizing productivity

Refer to the below articles for a study that measures the cost savings for a document management system

Web Series Part 1: Measuring the Cost Savings of Document Management Software

Web Series Part 2: Measuring the Cost Savings of Document Management Software

Web Series Part 3: Measuring the Cost Savings of Document Management Software

ECM (Enterprise Content Management)

Enterprise Content Management is the systematic collection and organization of information that is to be used by a designated audience – business executives, customers, etc. Neither a single technology nor a methodology nor a process, it is a dynamic combination of strategies, methods, and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver information supporting key organizational processes through its entire lifecycle


Most ECM solutions started as a document management system and throughout the years, they evolved to become solutions serving organizations not only in their documents lifecycle management but also in automating their processes, and improving collaboration.

ECM solutions in my point of view should be the entry point to the digital transformation journey as they contain the modules needed for organizations to operate more efficiently and the document management module represents its core and most important module.

Usually major ECM solutions should contain the below modules

Below is a picture from Gartner demonstrating all the modules that should be available in the ECM

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is picture1.png


As a summary, most document management systems functionalities should be available in any ECM solution and represents its core module. ECM has more improved and evolved concepts than DMS helping organizations cover a wider range of business related operations to be digitally transformed.

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