Enterprise Content Management vs Document Management Systems

A Document Management system enables you to create, maintain, and store your content in files, as well as be compliant on a regulatory level.

An Enterprise Content Management system has all the features of a Document Management System, but can handle both structured and unstructured data, can help you reuse the content, can support video and HTML, and can integrate with a wide range of third-party repositories. 

Documents vs. Content

Businesses work with content daily: contracts, invoices, offers, marketing brochures, presentation websites, reports, and so on. 

  • Content can mean one asset, usually static and independent from other assets (in the form of a document, a video, some notes). 
  • Content can also refer to several assets derived from the same source which get managed on an ongoing basis in digital form.

If you are interested in elevating your content enterprise with Microsoft Sharepoint, check out this article

The smaller the business, the less complex the content. The bigger the business, the more complex the content.

Moreover, small businesses have fewer document management needs than bigger businesses. Depending on the size of your business and on the document or content volume you need to produce, you can choose one of the tools: 

  • A Document Management System (DMS) to keep your digital documents in order, version and distribute them properly. 
  • A Content Management System or an Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) to keep your digital content (not only your documents) in order, to manage both structured and unstructured content, to enrich content with metadata, and to publish it to various environments and in various media formats from one hub. 

What are the features of DMS?

Photo by Wesley Tingey on Unsplash 

DMS, commonly known as a digital cabinet system: 

  • Manages documents as separate, digital assets or entities 
  • Stores documents in a hub or on one platform   
  • Secures document access and retrieval based on rights   
  • Integrates documents with workflow and automation   
  • Indexes documents for classification purposes and efficient search 
  • Supports file collaboration 
  • Offers document version control and audit trail 
  • Archives documents based on business policies 

What are the features of ECMS?

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash 

 ECMS builds on DMS capabilities and expands them: 

  • Manages content dynamically and digitally 
  • Handles both structured and unstructured content 
  • Stores content granularly (chunks, snippets) in a single source 
  • Manages and support the application of intelligent metadata 
  • Assembles content and handles variation for assets which are single-source derivate  
  • Integrates with digital business processes and rules   
  • Integrates with publishing processes and supports web platform outlook   
  • Supports customizable backup and restore logic 

Similarities between DMS and ECMS

Photo by Tolga Ulkan on Unsplash 

Both DMS and ECMS: 

  • Centralize some form of data securely 
  • Support digital collaboration   
  • Give access to all document versions 
  • Allow advanced search, intelligent information retrieval   
  • Store data 
  • Support various degrees of automation 

Differences between DMS and ECMS

Photo by Seema Miah on Unsplash 

Content structure and types

DMS is specialized in data stored in classic formats from Microsoft-suite file, to PDF, image formats, and so on. DMS tracks file records as they change and evolve through time. With DMS, files are managed throughout their lifecycle.

ECMS handles both structured and unstructured information, raw data, video, audio, XML or HTML, or multimedia files. ECMS can handle native data or data collected from third-party sources. With ECMS, content, files, and web pages can be tracked throughout their lifecycle. 

Lifecycle and operations

DMS stores, manages, and tracks electronic documents in an organization, whereas ECM stores, processes content documentation and workflow inside an organization. 

Business size and learning curve

While DMS delivers good results for small companies, ECM is more beneficial for bigger companies with higher volumes of data.

DMS is simpler, cheaper, and requires less expertise and maintenance. ECM is more elaborate, expensive, and training is needed. 

In brief 

Both DMS and ECMS: 

  • Offer businesses greater speed, productivity, and accuracy when managing documents and content digitally. 
  • Help businesses rely less on paper-based documents.

ECMS is a more elaborate DMS which has advanced functions in terms of handling structured and unstructured content, publish actions, and vast digital repositories.