Today, document management has come such a long way that there are actually industry certifications in which people can become qualified. So far, these certifications are fairly general and surface-level. For instance, this particular certification course, offered by the Center for Professional Innovation and Education (CPIE), promises a curriculum on how to manage documents, implement document management software (DMS) systems, stay compliant with industry regulations, and make use of audit trails. While the course references “product development in the life sciences,” it also sounds more or less like a tutorial on how DMS works and how you can implement it in a work environment.

The general overview-like nature of the CPIE course doesn’t indicate that training or certification in document management is worthless; on the contrary, while most business personnel simply learn their company’s DMS on the fly, there is value to the idea of there being certifications in this industry. As document management programs continue to become more commonplace, it is likely that more complicated and specific certifications will replace the more general ones, such as the course currently offered through CPIE.


The Evolution of DMS (And What It Means for Certification Curriculum)

The reason that document management certifications are likely to change a lot over the next few years is simple: DMS programs haven’t been around for that long. Only in the past decade or so have most businesses started trading in their paper filing systems for paperless DMS systems. The relatively new nature of electronic document management explains why there aren’t very many certification programs currently available in the field (the description for the CPIE course calls it one of the first “comprehensive learning programs” for document management), as well as why the existing programs are fairly general in their scope. A lot of businesses are just beginning to scratch the surface of what DMS can do, and the certification programs are scratching the surface with them.

But as more and more businesses go paperless and adopt document management software, things are going to change. Already, electronic document management programs have evolved due to new standards and regulations for information privacy, organization, file retention, auditing, and more. As more businesses move their files—and their customer data—onto remote servers or even into the cloud, regulations are only going to become more detailed and demanding. DMS trends, in turn, will become more complex, too.


ECM Certification

This evolution in DMS need and complexity is going to create systems that are more difficult to learn and manage “on the fly.” Particularly for ECM—enterprise content management, the more advanced version of DMS—certification courses are becoming more common. ECM software has a significantly steeper learning curve than the average DMS, meaning that companies are having to take more time and exert more effort in training employees on how to use those programs.

Because of this fact, businesses might view it as a worthwhile investment to have one or two employees go through an ECM certification course. Those individuals would then be in charge of managing the ECM system and training other staff members on how to navigate the system themselves.

AIIM, a global professional association for “information professionals,” currently offers three tiers of ECM certification: practitioner, specialist, and master. The ECM practitioner and specialist courses are offered as work-at-your-own-pace online courses, while the ECM master level certification is available as a three-day virtual seminar or a four-day in-person course. Each tier offers varying levels of information and training on developing and implementing enterprise content management strategies.

It’s also worth noting that AIIM is not the only organization offering an ECM certification course. IBM, the well-known computer company, also has a number of ECM or document management-related certifications available.


Who Will Need Certification?

Right now, certification in the document management industry is fully optional, and few and far between. Since larger organizations that use ECM systems are often the organizations with high levels of risk (like healthcare organizations and law firms), it makes sense that those employers might pursue ECM certification for certain personnel. For the average business looking to have a paperless office, though, simpler DMS programs work just fine and don’t really demand specialized training or certification.

However, basic DMS systems might not always be the go-to solution for average business applications. As electronic document management becomes more commonplace, new industries are sure to be subject to regulations—as medical research labs, food processing companies, and other organizations already have. Since ECM platforms are known for superior security features and greater government compliance, they might become a more sought-after option for more organizations as time moves forward. As that trend continues, we are likely to see a greater demand for document management certification courses.