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How is a Document Management and an ECM different

Ana Canteli

Written by Ana Canteli on November 29, 2019

The terms document management and enterprise content management are often used confusingly, some even considering them synonymous. This phenomenon may be motivated by different causes, from the criteria used, through translation issues or even commercial interests, depending on the term in vogue.

Document management vs. ECM

Until 2017, the AIIM - Association for Information and Image Management - defined the term enterprise content management or ECM as a broad concept that encompasses the strategies, methods, and tools to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and electronic documents related to organizational processes. Enterprise content does not mean that this is used exclusively by companies, but that it can be used by institutions, foundations, NGOs, and organizations of any kind.

Document management is the set of rules and techniques to manage documents (of any type), received or created in an organization, facilitate the retrieval of information from them, determine the period of conservation and expulsion policy; while ensuring the long-term preservation of the most valuable documents following the criteria of rationalization and economy.

Document management system vs Enterprise content management

We are speaking now of the tools: enterprise content management system and document management software. While a document management system focuses on the entire life cycle of a document, from scanning to the storage, through sharing and publishing, an enterprise content management system manages all types of digital assets, understood in a broad sense as "unstructured information", such as videos, images, email, web pages, etc.

Document management systems are similar to any enterprise content management system in the sense that both technological solutions require storing or accessing documents or objects. Document management would also be the starting point, as any organization needs to handle its documents. The use of one technological option or another depends on many factors, including type and quantity of needs and volumes, that justify automating a process or activity.

Characteristics of a document management system

Among the most notable are:

  • Creation of documents: document management software must be able to generate documents in electronic format, as well as contribute to the digitalization of paper documents.
  • Capture: the insertion of scanned documents means that the document management software has integration facilities with multifunction printers or scanners, and in turn, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) component that allow scanning and meeting other objectives at the same time.
  • Security: document management could not occur if the software used cannot guarantee specific conditions of use. The document management software must allow the establishment of security required by each information node within the system (right to read, edit, copy, delete, etc.)
  • Indexing: an essential element to be able to make proper use of files. Indexing is critical when classifying or categorizing documents and placing them correctly within the repository.
  • Metadata: basically, this is critical information in the document. It can be contained within the file (the barcode of a product) or related to it (data stored in a database that informs about the origin, date of shipment, or delivery data that does not appear explicitly in the electronic document).
  • Workflow: business process management is not an intrinsic part of document management, although today, almost all organizations expect to have this element within the document manager. Workflow engines allow you to build a workflow that makes it possible to manage documentation or information so that all the requirements of business processes are met.
  • Search and recovery: systems should offer users the possibility to search and therefore find documents, if possible using several criteria, from the name of the file, through the title, keywords, author, date range to searches by content (any word or text that is part of the document). In terms of recovery, although the notion may seem simple, the recovery of a digital asset can be complicated. A simple search in databases can allow the restoration of a document using fundamental indexing. But to provide a more versatile recovery, the system must allow the user to find a document by partial data that responds to the identifier of the file or metadata.
  • Collaboration: functionalities that allow users to work in a coordinated way on the same files. Collaboration tools include items such as notes, chat, task manager, shared calendars, and subscription services.
  • Distribution: A document prepared for delivery must be in a format that does not allow it to be altered and guarantees longevity over time (long term document format).
  • Records manager: it is a discipline, which according to some specialists in the field, must be included with document management, considering it an intrinsic part of the document manager, both because of the need to manage what is stored and decide when to destroy it, and how. This relates to the original meaning of the phrase (Record Management) since, in the Anglo-Saxon world, the term "Record" is almost interchangeable with the term "Document."
  • Archiving plan: The archiving policy describes the documentary series, the place where they should be stored, the retention program, the disposition, and the people responsible for their management.

Characteristics of an enterprise content management

  • Capture: as in the case of a document manager, an ECM must accept both electronic and digitized content; for this purpose, it can make use of various tools such as OCR, HCR (Handprint Character Recognition) or ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition). The information on the digital assets can be structured or unstructured.
  • Management: in summary, it refers to controlling the content life cycle, complying with the business processes, rules, and laws that affect the entity.
  • Storage: Safely store the contents of the organization, even those elements that are not designed to be preserved in the long term.
  • Preservation: backup policy and storage conditions that guarantee that the organization complies with current regulations. It can mean cover to updated formats or migration when the software has become obsolete.
  • Delivery: this means that the elements that are managed, stored, or preserved through enterprise content management are accessible to users. Here the security, collaboration, and distribution tools, among other considerations, are applied.

What is OpenKM?

OpenKM is an EDRMS (Electronic Document and Records Management System ) that is, it is a document management system, and an enterprise content management system, since information that is not structured is no problem. OpenKM is also prepared to assume the management of records in electronic or physical format (keep paper documents and use the software to model the location and custody: warehouse, aisle, bookshelf, shelf, box, etc. loan and delete when the time comes). OpenKM can be integrated with any third application, thanks to the SDK’s in Java, PHP, and .NET that help to implement the system in the software suite of any organization transparently.

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