Document management and content management are closely related. On the surface they appear to be the same thing, but when you start to analyze document management versus content management, you start to see the differences.
If your business is looking to set up a Document management system (DMS) or a content management system (CMS), you might be wondering which one is right for you.
Key points to remember:
- Document management systems allow you to store internal documents and share them within your organization.
- Content management systems allow users to publish various content through a dedicated publicly accessible website.
- An example of a cloud-based DMS is Egnyte, while an example of a CMS is HubSpot or WordPress.
The best document management software and content management systems can come at a steep price, so it’s best to know what you’re investing your money in and which platform will best suit your needs.
We’re here to help clear up the confusion and answer some common questions, which will put you in a better position to select the type of software you should use.
Document management software is specifically designed to hold business documents that multiple users can organize, create, edit, and access. A content management system applies to several types of content like text, video, and images, all of which are published publicly through a website.
Technically yes, you can use a CMS to create and store text documents. However, we don’t recommend using a CMS for document management because it doesn’t provide the same organizational and creative tools as dedicated document management software.
Microsoft SharePoint is a document management system that also includes some traditional CMS functionality. For example, you can create private web pages and share content with other users in your company.
Document Management vs Content Management: The Basics
To help you learn more about document management systems and content management systems, we’ll explore each platform separately and then look at some of the key differences and similarities.
What is a DMS?
A document management system is software that allows companies to manage documents throughout their activity. Think of it as a kind of digital filing cabinet, where a range of documents exist and various users can access them.
However, unlike a physical filing cabinet, which can only hold documents, an electronic document management system offers so much more.
For example, some document management software lets you send internal communications that help keep everyone informed about critical business processes. You can also collaborate on documents, access older versions, and allow multiple users to edit them.
The most common types of document management systems are on-premises and cloud-based. On-premises document management software gives you full control over your internal servers and allows you to establish document security.
The cloud-based option means your documents exist on a third-party company’s servers. Cloud solutions make it easy to access documents on multiple devices, as well as collaborate on documents with others.
Among other things, good document management software allows you to create and store document types such as invoices, employee contracts, spreadsheets, training materials, and almost any other business document you you can imagine.
The best ones also have tools that offer scanning capabilities so you can transfer paper documents to your electronic DMS. Scanning tools include optical character recognition, which allows you to edit paper documents that you have migrated to electronic documents.
If you want more information on what a DMS can do, check out our document management basics article.
What is a CMS?
A content management system is a space that allows you to upload different types of content such as text, images, and videos. With various software options, a content management system allows you to easily publish content publicly to the web without needing to know how to code it from scratch.
Whether you’re a blogger or a large online publication, you’ll need a content management system to create, schedule, and publish content. A top CMS, like WordPress, also offers templates for your website and gives you the ability to create a unique design.
Most content management systems allow you to add multiple users to a centralized content feed. You can allow users to create, edit, and post content. Other users, such as editors, may also access and edit the content as appropriate.
After your website goes live, you can access your content management system and create new web pages on your website. You can also edit content even after publishing it online, and all of this can be done without the need for a web developer. This simplifies the task even for inexperienced CMS users.
DMS vs CMS: Differences and Similarities
Now that you have a better understanding of what a DMS and a CMS are, let’s take a closer look at some of the key differences and similarities.
Structured and unstructured data
A DMS tends to handle what is called structured data; it’s a space that allows you to easily categorize, search and share data within a centralized platform.
In contrast, a CMS is a place for unstructured data, where the content does not have a defined data model and is not organized in a defined way.
Structured data includes easily searchable data, such as names, addresses, graphics, documents, and PDFs; while unstructured data involves hard-to-find data such as video files and audio files.
The platforms share similarities in that they provide a centralized space to upload, create, fetch, and share content. This is really where the middle ground ends, as the type of content created and shared is very different.
Enterprise-Level Content and Document Management: ECM vs. EDM
Two other terms you are likely to come across are enterprise content management (ECM) and enterprise document management (EDM). Despite the different terms, little separates an enterprise content management system from a standard CMS, and the same goes with a DMS. The main difference is scalability.
ECM software allows you to add and manage more users, while giving them the ability to access content and documents from multiple devices located in different locations.
Due to the size of each platform, it’s common to see more automation tools that allow you to deliver smooth updates on business processes and content. This makes enterprise-level management systems ideal for large enterprises.