Monday, September 24, 2012

Solving the puzzle: DMS, RMS or ECM

With the growing notion of Green IT and the need to achieve paperless office drives companies to look for an IT system which can help them reduce the paper usage in office, while increasing users productivity by the way of converting and managing papers in electronic form.

The job to identify and implement such a system often gets assigned to the IT department, which then reaches out to various IT vendors to evaluate their solutions. Each vendor today refers their solutions using different terminologies confusing the IT managers or the business decision makers and throws a unique challenge in front of them to first decide on what exactly are they looking for, a DMS, RMS or a full-blown ECM?

While the first might be dirt cheap, the later might require deep pockets to acquire, implement and maintain.While not one size fits all, its important to first zero down on the type of solution an organization is looking for and then invite the right vendors to demonstrate their product features, implementation capabilities and future support
(I'll talk about the methodology to evaluate vendors in my next article).

Here is the list of few common abbreviation used commonly in IT industry to achieve electronic storage and management of papers, which might be helpful for organizations to pick the right title for the solution they require:

Few common abbreviations
  • DMS: Document Management System
  • EDMS: Electronic Document Management System
  • RMS: Records Management System
  • CMS: Content Management System
  • ECM: Enterprise Content Management
  • WDMS: Workflow and Document Management System
  • CDMS: Compliance and document management system
  • DCS: Document Control System
Though some of the abbreviations listed above might sound very similar and refer to similar characteristics, it's important to understand the narrow difference between them and identify the right solution for your business needs.

I'll try to briefly explain the basic characteristics of these terminologies and the narrow difference between them:

DMS: A DMS is often referred to a system which manages electronic documents like office documents, pdf and images, having basic library functions like add/edit/delete document, check-in/check-out, versioning, audit trails etc.
Examples: Microsoft SharePoint, Newgen Omnidocs

EDMS: An EDMS is not very different from DMS, though it specifically narrows down the defination by adding the 'electronic' word into it. This terms is more practically used while referring to the need of a basic document management system.
Examples: Microsoft SharePoint, EMC Documentum, OpenText

RMS: Records Management System is expected to be the enhanced version of DMS, which also offers records management features, wherein users can declare certain documents as 'formal records' of the organization, archive them for a period on it for meeting the regulatory and compliance requirements.
Examples: HP TRIM

CMS: Though the CMS terminology is supposed to be used for a system which manages any type content, including office documents, emails and fax etc, but more practically this terms is being used for small web content management systems which are used to develop content rich web portals.
Examples: Joomla, WordPress and Drupal.

ECM: Enterprise Content Management suite is expected to provide end-to-end content management capabilities including content capture, managing the content of any type including office documents, drawings, emails, fax, application contents, Workflow/BPM, records management, archival and compliance.

Gartner considers the following as the core components of ECM suite:
  • Document Management
  • Web Content Management
  • Records Management
  • Image Processing Applications
  • Social Content 
  • Workflow/BPM
Examples: EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, OpenText

WDMS: Workflow and document management system is coined to best emphasize on two key requirements of system - Workflow and Document Management. Though you might plug-in records management and WCM features later on, but the basic objective of system is very much defined in one word -WDMS.
Examples: Microsoft SharePoint, OpenText, IBM FileNet, EMC Documentum 

WCM: Web Content Management refers to the content management system using which organizations can build and manage large complex website having authoring and publishing controls.
Examples: Sitecore, Fatwire, SDL, Autonomy, Oracle Webcenter

CDMS: The C stands for compliance feature added to the document management capabilities, which refers to the need of complying with govt. regulations. Such a system is very much useful and in demand in pharmaceutical and healthcare companies due to strict regulatory requirements to comply with industry standards like HIPPA during drug trials.
Examples: FirstDoc from CSC (Built on EMC Documentum)

DCS: Document Control system, a more generic term used primarily in engineering companies, which refers to the requirement of publishing the documents to users in controlled fashion after a thorough review and approval by respective users.
Examples: Mclaren Engineering Document Management, Bentley Systems


  1. This is a an excellent blog info, and it is very usefull for those who are new in this field of job...

    1. I am glad you liked the blog. Feel free to spread the word and share the blog info with the people in your circle and invite them to join our Facebook page ( or follow twitter (@ecmwise) to get updates on latest posts.

  2. Those terms are actually pretty confusing and overwhelming at first. Those letters can get jumbled so easily. But thanks for this enlightenment though, it got me through.

    1. I am glad the info was useful for you. Feel free to like our Facebook page ( or follow twitter (@ecmwise) to get updates on latest posts.

  3. Hey there! I am glad to stop by your site and know more about document management system. Keep it up! This is a good read. You have such an interesting and informative page. I will be looking forward to visit your page again and for your other posts as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about document management system.
    Later developers began to write a second type of system which could manage electronic documents, i.e., all those documents, or files, created on computers, and often stored on users' local file-systems. The earliest electronic document management (EDM) systems managed either proprietary file types, or a limited number of file formats. Many of these systems later became known as document imaging systems, because they focused on the capture, storage, indexing and retrieval of image file formats. EDM systems evolved to a point where systems could manage any type of file format that could be stored on the network. The applications grew to encompass electronic documents, collaboration tools, security, workflow, and auditing capabilities.
    If you’d like to schedule a consultation to discuss our electronic document management systems & solutions, please contact a knowledgeable KeyNet representative today.

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  4. I am very delighted to read this blog. It has great content which is informative. Electronic Document Management allows you to take advantage of document full-text indexing and full-text search capabilities. 
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  5. Thanks for sharing a few of the common abbreviations, its descriptions and examples. They are very helpful for those who prefer electronic storage and management of papers. Looking forward for more information like this in the future.

  6. Thanks for the nice post. Document management system helps lot to streamline business process.


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