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How do content management vs. document management compare?

Enterprise content management and document management may seem interchangeable, but they are not. But when businesses use them together, they complement each other well.

Organizations use many systems and processes to make a business run smoothly. With so many options available, users may struggle to differentiate what each system actually does.

This is often the case with enterprise document management (EDM) and enterprise content management (ECM), because while they seem the same, they serve different functions.   

Here are the key differences between enterprise content management and document management.

Enterprise document management

EDM is the strategy that businesses use to organize paper and electronic documents, including emails, faxes and instant messages. Businesses that maintain an organized database must tag and index all documents for users to easily edit and retrieve documents when needed. Businesses can also use EDM software to monitor and control changes that employees make to documents.

For EDM to be effective, it must address these key points:

  • how long a business needs to retain documents;
  • where users will store documents;
  • how to trace changes to documents; and
  • how to recover documents in case they are lost.

Templafy, M-Files and DocuWare are some examples of document management systems.

Enterprise content management

An ECM system can store the same content as an EDM software, and more. ECM is a set of processes that enables businesses to quickly capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver all types of content -- including audio and video files, contracts, purchase orders, delivery tickets, invoices and receipts -- to employees, business stakeholders and customers.

ECM systems are beneficial to business groups, including contract management and HR departments, because they enable automation of many business processes. An effective ECM system streamlines business processes, reduces storage and mailing needs, reduces costs, optimizes security and ultimately increases productivity.

Popular ECM software products include DocuWare, Laserfiche, Seismic, Box, Microsoft SharePoint and Alfresco.

Dig Deeper on Enterprise content management (ECM) technology