Document Management - A Little Terminology

There’s hardly an area of business activity and its related software systems that goes under so many names as document management. So we decided to see if we could shed a little light on it by explaining the main terms.

As already mentioned, the most common name is Document Management. This is closely connected with the acronym EDM, which stands for Electronic Document Management and now means the same thing as Document Management. That’s basically because nowadays it is either done by hand or with the aid of a software solution such as DocuWare. In that case it is also EDM.

You often also see the abbreviation DMS. That means a Document Management System, in other words a software solution for document management. Ours is called DocuWare 5.

Recently however, industry experts have started talking about ECM. This abbreviation stands for Enterprise Content Management and covers a somewhat broader spectrum than DMS. For ECM is not just the term used for the different systems, tools and activities (such as archiving), but also for example the strategies on which these are based, and even the associated occupational profile. ECM also has the advantage that it can be used internationally.

We have the American industry association AIIM to thank for this term. The background here is that the industry is structured somewhat differently across the pond. For example, they talk about Document Imaging, which simply means scanning and storing paper documents. By our standards that’s just a preliminary stage to document management. To put it crudely, document imaging is needed for an RM or ERM defined in an ISO standard. Those are the abbreviations for Records Management and Electronic Records Management. Records in this context don’t of course mean sporting records, but records in the sense of documents, files, e-mails, etc.

For more term definitions see the DocuWare Glossary.