Document Management vs. Content Management: What
Himanshu Singh

By: Himanshu Singh on September 23rd, 2019

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Document Management vs. Content Management: What's the Difference?

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)  |  Document Management

In this digital era, organizations are looking for ways to streamline their business processes. Companies are adopting different management solutions driven by AI-based software or apps to automate it. There are so many solutions to choose from, but the process gets quite tricky when the boundaries between the solutions are not defined properly.

For instance, businesses are looking for cost-effective methods to capture, organize, share, and document digital data. However, people often get confused between document management software and content management software when it comes to business information management. Most of the time, these terms are used interchangeably — some vendors call their solutions ‘document management' systems, while others claim it as 'content management’ system.

There are quite a few similarities between the two, but there are certain factors that set them apart.

What Is Document Management Software (DMS)?

Document management software is a system that helps capture, store, and analyze a vast amount of information in a single platform. The solution streamlines these processes that help in managing files digitally. Moreover, the system acts as a centralized database, which makes document and information easy to find.

What Is Content Management Software (CMS)?

Content management software is all about creating and managing digital content. It offers a set of tools that allows for easy collaboration in the workplace by integrating document management with digital asset management.

As stated earlier, there are both similarities and differences between the two. To better understand the differences, let's first look at how they overlap each other.

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How DMS and CMS Are Similar

A document management solution and content management solution have a few things in common.

Both Are SaaS-Based Technology

Saas-based technology, also known as software as a service technology, is a method of software delivery that is hosted on third-party servers and makes them available to users over the internet.

Both DMS and CMS can be hosted on a third-party server whereby all the data are safely stored in the cloud. The data can be accessed from any device having a secure internet connection.

Acts as a Centralized Data Storage

In terms of similarities, both offer a centralized database whereby all the information about your staff, business, and other confidential information are stored. These documents are easily accessible, and the plus point is that you can restrict the access of the database to individual roles and actions.

Enables you to Easily Manage, Store, and Retrieve Information

Both DMS and CMS are capable of systematically collecting and storing data. You can index the documents so that you can effortlessly search the files you need. The information doesn't get lost in the piles of files stored in the system. One core benefit is that both the system allows you to search and retrieve the information needed without any hassle.

High-Level Security

Another similarity between the two is that both offer high security to preserve and safeguard your confidential business data. It prevents the system from any unauthorized access. Moreover, in case you delete your files accidentally, you can also retrieve them back. The cloud-based technology creates an automatic back up of your data.

Difference between DMS and CMS

I know what you are thinking. Both document management software and content management software have such common functionalities, so how do they differ exactly?

Well, the main difference lies in the structure of data. Let me explain. Structured and Unstructured Data

Document management software is designed to handle data that are contained in structured documents and files, such as PDF, PowerPoint, Word, Excel, and other popular formats. Their primary purpose is to digitize these files and track and manage new documents throughout their lifecycle, meaning keeping a record of the files as they are written and re-written.

In fact, document management software also includes advanced imaging and scanning capabilities, which can't be found in many content management software. For example, a document management solution offers optical mark recognition, optical character recognition, and handprint character recognition for scanning of hard copies.

Whereas, a content management software has the ability to manage various types of structured and unstructured electronic information. In addition to the kinds of files that are managed by document management applications, it manages a broader range of digital assets. Some of the examples are video, audio, web content, multimedia files, Flash, and also raw data collected from various third-party internet sources.

Key Purpose

The main purpose of document management software is to control the lifecycle of documents and maintain regulatory compliance. It acts as a digital filing cabinet, that's why it is sometimes also called an e-cabinet filing system. At its core functionalities, it focuses on managing entities as a whole. Some of its standard features are workflow, indexing, versioning, and auditing.

Content management software, on the other hand, is more than just storing and managing organizations' files and documents. It also includes tools, processes, and strategies that are used to capture, store, retain, and manage content.

It is safe to say that a document management system is technically a sub-category of content management software. Without the ability of DMS to manage documents, content management software can't function properly. Some of the standard features of content management software are digital asset management, business process management, email management, downloading web content, and more.

Conclusion: Which Is the Right Solution for you?

Although these two solutions complement each other, they have clear functionality distinctions which are quite useful for your business when used correctly.

One noteworthy thing is that the functionality of DMS and CMS looks too similar at the small-business level. This is because small businesses usually don't have complex content and document management needs.

However, at the enterprise level, content management software is the best solution as it tends to organize and manage a more massive amount of structured and unstructured data. Otherwise, both the solution contributes toward minimizing operational costs by going paperless and encouraging streamlined internal procedures.

So while choosing the right solution for your business, consider these differences. It will help you conclude as to which one fits right into your requirements.


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About Himanshu Singh

Himanshu Singh is a Marketing Specialist at SoftwareSuggest [dot] com. He is well versed in software platforms like eCommerce platforms, project management, and document management. He is also interested in domains like machine learning and semiconductors. In his spare time, he enjoys guitar, badminton, and photography.