Document Management Advanced Capabilities

What are the differences between DMS/EDRMSs and ECM & Content Services platforms

There are hundreds of document and content management solutions out there today and it can be bewildering to work out how to chose what is right for you. If your requirements are restricted to manage documents their types and some basic meta data and your budget low your choice is wide.

There are the likes of Dropbox, Box, M-files, VirtualCabinet, Microsoft SharePoint Online and OneDrive and many more. This is not meant to be an evaluation of those products, although it is worth briefly looking further into SharePoint Online and OneDrive.

SharePoint Online and OneDrive, being from the Microsoft stable,  deserve more attention. One of the largest software companies in the world with software running on almost every computer, Microsoft is not to be underestimated. Their move from Office one-off licensing to an Office 365 cloud-offering has given Microsoft a backdoor into millions of homes and offices. Along with the basic Office applications, Microsoft bundled SharePoint and OneDrive for Business into a low cost monthly license fee. Add in basic user and device management with Azure Active Directory, Office 365 and Azure this has the potential to become the core information platform for many organisations. Out of the box SharePoint will not excite. However, with a little customisation, a few SharePoint Templates and the possibility of integration with an ever growing list of Microsoft cloud application services this can quickly become a serious contender. I would trust Microsoft to get this right.

Beyond the basic document management

If your requirements go beyond the basic document and records management capabilities your choice is narrowing. Here are a few requirements that spring to mind:

  • Managing documents as well as related content
  • Managing cases and related documents
  • Automating processes and decision-making around documents
  • Automation of capture of documents and data they contain
  • Automation of classification and indexing of imported documents
  • Content-sensitive security and access rights, (eg: a team leader can only access documents of members of his team, even if the same document type is used by other teams and departments)
  • Reporting and auditing
  • Integration with third party systems
  • etc.

What does Integration in this context mean?

The most common integration requirement will be access of documents from within other business applications without explicitly launching the DMS. For example, a user reviewing employee data within their HR system may wish to access all the employee’s documents. Using the context on the screen the relevant documents can be selected from the DMS and listed or displayed entirely transparently, without launching the DMS. Another example might be the indexing of a new employee document into the DMS with information on the screen. The list could go on.

Example of screen-level integration with OnBase:


Other forms of integration could be:

  • Automatically updating an ERP or HR system when new documents and related data enter the DMS.
  • Querying data from a business system when automating decision-making for example in invoice processing
  • Accessing documents, cases and business processes from within Outlook and other Office applications.

To meet those types of requirements organisations often end up with ECM or Content Services platforms. Those offer all common document and records management capabilities but also many of the additional requirements listed above.

Gartner recognises the following Content Services (formerly ECM) vendors:

  • Leaders: Microsoft (SharePoint & OneDrive), Hyland (OnBase), IBM, OpenText and Box
  • Challengers: Alfresco, Newgen & Laserfiche
  • Visionaries: M-Files & Nuxeo
  • Niche players: iManage, Everteam, Objective, NetDocument, etc


If you are interested in any of the above subjects get in touch with us!




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