Document Management Software

Qualitative Differences:

•             Definition: software that stores, tracks and manages electronic documents.

•             Basically a digital filing cabinet with increased security

•             A simpler solution that is easier to use and requires less management

•             Document management systems are often confused with ECM, but are in reality of subcategory of said ECM

•             Designed to control the lifecycle of documents which includes creation, retention, and accessibility

•             DMS is the core solution to the problem of helping companies organize, retain, and safeguard their documents, but it only addresses organizations’ initial needs.

•             Designed specifically for data already contained in structured documents and files like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, PDF, and other popular formats.

•         Purpose is primarily to digitize and archive files and track and manage new documents throughout their lifecycle, as they are written, revised, and updated.

•             Origins: Document management started in the 1990s as document imaging, where paper documents were scanned for electronic storage and retrieval. Over time, these solutions evolved to include management of digitized information such as electronic forms and emails. Then, they incorporated basic document routing and workflow to help organizations automate business processes.

•             Focus on branching out of paper-dependent arena.

•             A precursor to ECM.

•             In Mega doc, discuss desktop and online features of performance and professional packages. These are more DMS



•             Workflows,

•             audit trails, indexing, versioning, storing,

•        role based user permissions, management of documents, imaging, OCR, etc.


Qualitative Shared Similarities:

•        Accessibility, streamlined processes and great security features.

•             Both SaaS technology

•             Both strive to manage unstructured data

•             Both share indexing, workflow, versioning, and audit trails.

•             Add-on tools and modules are common in most ECM and DMS packages.

•             Fully centralized storage of files in digital format

•             Provide disaster recovery

•             Cost savings

•             Both help companies go paperless

•             Templates

•             ECM provide every capability of DMS, but not the other way around.

•             Collaboration

•             Informatics-oriented

•             Although ECM contains the word “enterprise”, both are useful for organizations depending on their size, purpose, and scope of responsibility.

•             Both are unbound by storage geography

•             Both benefit the environment

•             Both are used for similar purposes, albeit on scales of different size.

•             Both are sold by organizations with integration technology, although ECM tends to have more of this integration support/technology

•             Facilitate green technology

•             Integration takes similar amounts of time

•             both are designed to consider retention regulations

•             both emerged through organizational use, but have origins in consumer grade technology

•        Resellers are trained to implement systems the same way

Shared Features

•             Reduces TCO (total cost of ownership)

•             File sharing

•             Mobile access

•             Contribution and management

•             Accountability facilitators

•             Categorization

•             Advanced system searching options

•             Integrated workflow

•        Security.

Enterprise Content Management

Qualitative Differences:

•        A formalized means for storing and managing an organization’s process documentation and other content.

•             A super-sized, high power DMS

•             Requires a greater burden of responsibility

•             Think of it as an intelligent being able to automatically recognize content within documents and “know” where/whom to send it to.

•             Risk-driven users are generally the most drawn to this system, in that it provides risk management and business continuity, plus compliancy to strict governmental restraints. Great for doctors, lawyers, universities, etc.

•             Manages images, graphics, web page content, email, video, rich media assets.

•             Email management, imaging, digital asset management, document centric collaboration, business process management.

•             Helps configure high volumes of unstructured information

•             For larger organizations who can accommodate a much higher price

•             Better security features

•             ECM includes all the features of a great DMS, enhancing them with the ability to handle alternative media and effectively manage unstructured data.

•             Measures information.

•             Not to be confused with BPM, although both have open-source options.

•             More scalability and integration capabilities

•             Integration takes more time

•             Offline access

•             There are more legal based ECMs than there are DMS based legal technologies

•             Costs more and takes longer to train employees to use it.

•        In Mega Doc, Discuss enterprise version of efconline and desktop. These are more ECM.


•         Digital asset management, indexing, document collaboration, workflows, audit trails, business process management, email management, imaging,

•         Records management

•      Social content

The Similarities and Differences Between DMS and ECM

At eFileCabinet, one of the questions we often hear from clients is this: what is the difference between a DMS (Document Management Software) system and an ECM (Enterprise Content Management) system? Both of these types of software are used for their document storage capabilities, and both help organizations create a smarter way of organizing and accessing information in a digital format. However, the DMS and ECM terms are not interchangeable. On the contrary, these 2 types of document repositories have several notable differences that organizations should consider before choosing one or the other as a means of managing unstructured data.

Platform Commonalities

While document management software systems and enterprise content management platforms are inherently different, they also bear a number of commonalities. Indeed, both platforms provide fully centralized storage of files in a digital format. An ECM system is technically just a more advanced, feature-heavy DMS, with applications for more demanding and specific types of industries or organizations. By digitizing company files and documents, both types of software can help companies go paperless, make files accessible from anywhere, provide disaster recovery and superb security, and support easy file collaboration between multiple users.

Of course, specific features vary between different document management systems and enterprise content management platforms. However, quality enterprise-ready versions of both software should include features such as storage system templates, indexing, workflow, versioning, audit trails, mobile access, encryption for files at rest and in transit, and advanced system search options. Some freeware ECM or DMS programs won’t come with all of these features, a clear argument for a paid or subscription-based service.

DMS vs. ECM: The Differences Between the 2 Platforms

Despite their similarities, document management software systems and enterprise content management platforms also have several significant differences.

DMS software is essentially the less advanced version of enterprise content management. DMS programs are used specifically to store, track, and manage electronic documents, with the major focus being on structured documents like Word, PowerPoint, Excel, or PDF files. Enterprises typically use document management software to digitize their filing systems and go paperless. DMS systems are usually outfitted with OCR (optical character recognition), making it easy to use the programs to create editable digital versions of your print files.

Providing a similar structure to a filing cabinet—except in digital format and with stronger security and organization principles—DMS programs are useful to organizations because they simplify the entire process of document management. With DMS, you have easy digital control of the entire life cycle of every document in your library, from the creation stage to revisions and updates, all the way to document retention and ongoing file accessibility. You can even automate certain business processes with document management systems, such as archiving or deletion of client documents after specific periods of time.

Electronic content management, as mentioned previously, is a more advanced form of DMS technology. An ECM system is an advanced means of storing and managing an organization’s process documentation and other content. These systems can be used to do everything DMS can (digitizing documents, organizing files into an easily searchable filing system, etc.), but more advanced and powerful.

One of the major contrasts between DMS and ECM software is that while a DMS system is used mainly to organize “structured” Word or PDF documents, ECM can manage images, graphics, website content, emails, video and audio files, rich media assets, and more. In other words, ECM systems are a more comprehensive means of managing all of a company’s digital assets on a multimedia level.

More than just being DMS that can handle alternative media files, enterprise content management systems are also more intelligent programs than document management systems. ECM programs actually measure information in addition to storing it. They manage unstructured data by themselves, working more as an independent office manager or staff member than as a simple productivity tool. ECM systems include a number of different tools and strategies that they use to automate your filing system in unique and effective ways. An enterprise content management program can analyze content and determine where it needs to be stored in your system, or whom it needs to be sent to (and when). ECM platforms also provide offline access, superior security, stricter government compliance, and greater integration and scalability features than DMS.

Applications for DMS and ECM Programs

The highly advanced nature of ECM platforms means that they are quite expensive, complex to implement, and ultimately not practical for the average organization. Larger organizations with medium to high levels of risk (including healthcare organizations, law firms, universities, and other sizable clients) might implement ECM programs for a range of purposes, including the processing of invoices, patient health charts, insurance claims, automation of accounts payable, and more. Larger companies will utilize ECM technology not just because such systems are effective for analyzing content and using it to make big, risky decisions, but also because they can shoulder the expense of purchasing an ECM program.

Document management software systems, while not as advanced as ECM programs, are the far more common document storage platform in the enterprise world. If you simply need a system that you can use to digitize company files and make them easily accessible and searchable, DMS is the better (and more affordable) choice for your organization. If you wish to see DMS in action, we at eFileCabinet invite you to try out a free 15-minute demo of our system today.