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Document Management Systems vs. Enterprise Content Management

March 2, 2021 at 9:30 AM / by Dwight Moore - VP of Enterprise Solutions


Documents (and data) are the lifeblood of business. However, paper-based systems of storing, managing and processing these documents and data are holding businesses back. A few years ago, using a Document Management System to streamline document processes was a must. Now, most businesses utilize more than just documents in operations – videos, images, audio records, rich media, electronic forms, websites, email archives, and more all play a role in a company’s daily operations. For companies using varied content types, a document management system (DMS) is no longer enough. Modern businesses require a system made for accessing and managing all types of content: enterprise content management (ECM).

For businesses struggling to access, organize, secure, share, and maintain new forms of content and documents within an evolving workforce, ECM is the next step up from a DMS. Read on to learn what Enterprise Content Management is and why businesses are turning to ECM to help transition to the next step of streamlined business operations in 2021. 

What Is Enterprise Content Management?

Enterprise Content Management, part of Enterprise Content Services (ECS), is a software suite that formalizes and centralizes the storage and management of a company’s operational content. In other words, it puts all the content an organization uses into a single productivity ecosystem. Users work within the ECM platform itself to access, create, update, or transmit materials. This centralized, digital system allows businesses to move away from having a physical, central hub where are all documents are housed and most processes occur. A more agile business responsive to the changing needs of our business environment and digital daily lives is the result. 

ECM software is used by organizations with content that goes beyond documents. Government organizations, universities, doctor offices, law firms, and financial institutions benefit from this increased sophistication because they often have reports, customer or patient data, case studies, or other materials that don’t neatly fit into a document management system.

The Features of Enterprise Content Management

An enterprise content management system has many features recognizable to those who have used a document management system. These include:

Document management capabilities: ECM handles documents like a DMS but offers users a plethora of additional tools.

Cloud storage: Storing content on the cloud keeps it secure and accessible to whoever has the proper credentials from where ever they are.

Digital Capture, Routing, and Approval: ECM automates business processes by capturing information via digital forms and routing that information to the proper people in your business

Automated backups: Regularly scheduled backups can be automated to ensure they’re never missed and that a company doesn’t lose any critical information.

Security benchmarks: Industries such as healthcare and legal frequently use ECM systems to attain compliance regulations and meet security standards.

Encryption: As security represents one of the key priorities with enterprise content, a robust ECM will provide encryption capabilities for all data and content types.

How ECM Differs from a Document Management System

ECM and document management are both designed to streamline workflows, enhance document processes, and help companies handle an array of unstructured data. Additionally, both solutions can assist with disaster recovery, green initiatives (such as going paperless), and reducing operating expenses in an office. However, the are key differences:

Document Management Systems

A Document Management System is primarily designed to digitize, archive, and manage documents.  A DMS is invaluable in keeping all users up to date with versions or ensuring that one user doesn’t accidentally overwrite the work of another. However, these systems are designed to only handle documents.

Enterprise Content Management

ECM handles document processes, but its primary focus lies in centralizing and securing all types of an organization’s content. Whereas a DMS tracks documents through the lifecycle – ECM configures and organizes high volumes of information - not just documents.

The centralized nature of an ECM also makes it easier to scale and integrate in a broader office environment. This allows businesses to build custom operations as they grow and develop. ECM also makes it easier for an organization to embrace other types of content as they prove useful to employees and customers. The scalability and adaptability makes ECM a key software for businesses grappling with the rapid changes in business operations in 2020. 

How ECM Enables a Productive Remote Workforce

Most ECM systems live in the cloud. The cloud, by its nature, lends itself to accessibility and workflow enhancement regardless of the location of the end user. Therefore, a cloud-based ECM is a huge helping hand to distributed or remote work teams.

For Business Managers: Managers can easily track tasks and correct bottlenecks simply by reviewing who is accessing a piece of content and how long that person takes to review or approve the content. 

For Remote Employees: ECM offers your remote employees easy access to their documents, records, forms, and other content from the comfort of their home office. Tasks like invoice processing or expense report processing, updating customer or patient information, sharing, searching for, and retrieving information across locations or departments is simplified. 

The recent focus on digital transformation brings the importance of both a digitally-enabled remote workforce and ECM into the forefront. A remote workforce without a well-oiled Enterprise Content Management system to lean on will suffer from workflow bottlenecks and strain from paper-based operations. If document management is a stepping stone to a productive distributed workforce, ECM is the foundation on which a successful workforce - remote or not - is built. 

Laserfiche: The Management System Enterprises Need

Laserfiche’s world-class enterprise content management suite is built for businesses with diverse document and content needs. With Laserfiche, an organization can take advantage of these three features:

1. Process Automation

Laserfiche automates many of the most routine manual processes that otherwise eat up an employee’s valuable time. By leveraging artificial intelligence and analytics, users no longer need to worry about busywork like data entry or approval processes.

2. Content Management

Laserfiche’s system keeps businesses organized with advanced content management features. Digitally capture, secure, and organize content across the organization, no matter what form it takes. Laserfiche uses AI-powered organization to improve a company’s ability to make rapid, data-driven business decisions.

3. Platform Services

Whether satisfying compliance requirements or integrating applications, Laserfiche has the capabilities required. Businesses can enjoy advanced records management, enhanced security, and fully centralized operations created through integration.

4. Electronic Forms

Electronic forms replace paper forms with easy-to-design and easy to track web forms. Electronic forms offer your employees, customers, and partners access to the forms they need through public websites or embedded on your company’s intranet. These forms, once submitted, are then automatically routed into their designated workflows, eliminating the need for manual follow-ups or navigating the company hierarchy to ensure those who need to review the form receive it. Laserfiche’s prebuilt or custom-built forms help companies track employee workloads, eliminate lost paperwork, secure incoming data, and create transparency within the business.

5. Mobility

Whether working remotely from home or working on the road, employees need access to their documents and data wherever they are. ECM offers mobility to businesses with a dynamic, remote workforce. Secure, remote access to documents, collaboration on information, and engagement from workers away from the office are all easily achieved with ECM.

ImageNet Consulting Helps Businesses Embrace Versatility

A document management system is an invaluable tool for any company, but sometimes an office needs more. Organizations with robust and dynamic information environments need Enterprise Content Services (ECS). A sophisticated ECS platform provides the security and capabilities needed to embrace a variety of content types in a centralized, organized environment.

If your current document management solutions struggle to handle your company’s content or you have no way to categorize it in the system, it’s time to look into enterprise content management. Don’t let content access and management hamstring the office workflow – let it amplify your business's achievements.

ImageNet Consulting helps companies achieve operational efficiency by providing the right tools for the job. Get started with the right enterprise content management solution for your business today!

Topics: Enterprise Content Management

Written by Dwight Moore - VP of Enterprise Solutions

Dwight brings over 35 years of experience assisting clients with their document life cycle and business process needs to ImageNet. A graduate cum laude from The University of Central Oklahoma with degrees in Advertising and Marketing, Dwight spent his first fifteen years working for the Xerox Corporation in sales and sales management. With certifications from the Xerox Sales and Management Training Institute in Leesburg, Virginia, Dwight spent many years managing integrated solutions teams. Dwight joined the ImageNet Consulting team in 2003 and has been instrumental in developing the ImageNet Enterprise Content Management Solutions team and helping ImageNet become one of the top ten Laserfiche Value Added Resellers in the world. With 13 consecutive Laserfiche Winners Circle Awards and seven Laserfiche Million Dollar Club Awards, ImageNet has established itself as a top tier Laserfiche Reseller under his leadership.

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