ECM stands for enterprise content management system.
ECM is computer software that is designed to manage an organization’s documents. It replaces filing cabinets. Paper documents are converted to electronic image files. These image files and any other electronic files, such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, audio, and video files are stored and made accessible to the right people at the right time.
ECM systems allow you to create, capture, distribute, review, maintain, store, retrieve, and dispose of information. It also allows you to streamline your business processes and can become a crucial part of your organization’s overall records management strategy.
The goal of an ECM system is to make storing and finding documents easy and efficient. It’s as simple as that.
While ECM system may sound like a new technology, it’s actually been around for a long time. In fact, a Business Weekly article from June 20, 1975 that was titled “The Office of the Future” suggested that a paperless office was not far off.
At the time, several manufacturers had specialized systems that could image paper documents. However, this technology didn’t gain acceptance as quickly as the article predicted.
I think the main reasons for the delay were that disk storage costs were high and that these systems were proprietary (meaning that the hardware, software, and file formats were unique to each different manufacturer).
But in 1987, Laserfiche released the first PC-based document imaging system. This system was based on industry-standard hardware and image file formats, and it started the document imaging/management revolution.
While I like to refer to electronic document management as ECM, people use different language to talk about this technology. Depending on who you’re talking to, you might hear ECM called any of the following names:
- Paper-less system
- Content Management System (CMS)
- Content Service Platform
- Document Imaging
- Document Manager (DM)
- Document Management Software (DMS)
- Document Management System (DMS)
- Electronic Document Manager (System) (EDM or EDMS)
- Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS)
- Business Process Management System (BPMS)
- Business Process Management (BPM)