Sometimes, understanding Information Management’s terminology ends up being difficult. Sometimes this is the case for ECM and EDM, whether by misinformation or simply the absence of content that clarifies their differences.
Here in our blog we have already explained the distinction between BPM x Workflow.
In this article, we will answer what may be one of the most common questions involving Information Management: what is the difference between Electronic Document Management (EDM) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM)?
First, the background
The technology related to both terms emerged in the late 80s and early 90s, when Document Management System (DMS), or Electronic Document Management (EDM), began to be used to capture and store documents in organizations.
However, the growing complexity and increasing demand from companies for specific functionalities gave birth to the term Enterprise Content Management (ECM), in the early 2000s. At that time, ECM could be considered an evolved version of the Document Management System (DMS).
It’s important to note that the terminologies discussed here can be defined by research institutes such as Gartner and AIIM, but generally this ends up occurring through choices made by the market itself.
Each of these terms is explained below:
Electronic Document Management (EDM)
According to the AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) definition, Electronic Document Management (EDM) is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage, and track electronic documents and images, of paper-based information, captured using a document scanner.
It’s one of the precursor technologies to content management (ECM). So, broadly speaking, ECM provides some of the most basic functionalities for content management, bringing management controls and features to what otherwise we would consider “dumb” documents.
In short, it makes it so that when you have documents and need to use them, you can do so.
Among Document Management’s key features, these are the ones that stand out:
- Check-in / check-out and lock features, to coordinate simultaneous editing of a document and prevent changes made by one person override another one’s;
- Version control, so that tabs can be kept on how the current document came to be, as well as how it differs from previous iterations;
- Roll-back, to “activate” an earlier version in case of an error or premature release;
- Audit trail, to allow reconstruction of who did what to a document during the course of its life in the system;
- Annotation and bookmarking;
Enterprise Content Management (ECM)
The AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) definition states that Enterprise Content Management or ECM is not a simple technology, methodology, or process, but rather, a “dynamic combination of strategies, methods, and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver information that supports key organizational processes throughout their lifecycle.
Broadly speaking, the phases of ECM consist of:
- Capture: in this phase, information is obtained from the various media and channels on which they are available (ERP, CRM, dead files, social media, etc);
- Management: the next phase, responsible for keeping information organized and connected to the processes;
- Storage: focus now is in ensuring that information is stored in an appropriate medium, either through a system or other technologies;
- Preservation: is the long-term maintenance, such as archiving, consisting of the practice of protecting content so that it is available and can be used by the organization at any time in the future;
- Delivery: ensuring that information is delivered to the right audience, through the right device and at the right time.
From the phases mentioned above, an organization that adopts an ECM solution will get the following benefits:
- Possibility of capturing any type of content, storing it securely, and making it available throughout the process, regardless of time and place;
- Effectively organizing any amount of information;
- Enabling you to search and find information quickly, without having to waste time organizing it in advance;
- Tracking changes in the documentation;
- Improving process release and delivery;
- Enable you to visualize and understand the entire process, as well as your role in it.
More than a decade after the term ECM was first mentioned, in 2016, AIIM felt that consumerization (use of personal devices in the workplace), the cloud, mobile handsets, and the Internet of Things (IoT) were rapidly signaling “the end of the ECM era”.
At that time, the reason was that Enterprise Content Management was no longer serving the purpose for which it was intended.
[IMAGEM/*Outros termos já funcionam em inglês, favor confirmar]
Goals & Strategy
Fusion Platform, for example, is no longer Fusion ECM Suite, since the solution as a whole goes far beyond document management. Therefore, today what was the EDM module is now called ECM.
Thus, Gartner suggested the term Content Services, while AIIM (Association for Information and Image Management) published a study entitled “The New Wave”, in which it presents the IIM – Intelligent Information Management.
After all, what are the similarities and differences between EDM and ECM?
Among the main similarities that encompass the two technologies, the ones we can highlight are:
- both are SAAS (Software As A Service) technologies;
- they store information in digital format;
- they save time and expenses;
- they provide templates;
- they can be integrated with other systems and software.
Today it’s possible to state that EDM and ECM are terminologies used for the same type of solution. Since, as mentioned, the market is often responsible for the nomenclature of software solutions types.
Finally, you must also consider that regardless of the name of the solution, the ideal is always to thoroughly research the specific functionalities of any given product, the quality of its service, and whether it meets the demands of your business or not.