ECM and CMS Living In Harmony


So I ranted a week ago about the term CMS.  I was more upset how people used “CMS” than the term itself.  Assuming that the term has legs, how does it fit in the grand scheme of things, like the world of ECM?

So today, instead of tearing things apart, I thought I would try and help add to the world.  This will also let people tear my thoughts apart.

ECM as a Strategy

Enterprise Content Management is not a system.  You can’t install it and expect it to just work.  You can do that with systems, but ECM is a little more than that.  It is the strategy to managing content in the organization.  Have content, need control.

I last visited the definition of ECM around the New Year.  Pulling the update from the comments and adding the word Strategy gives the following.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is a strategy for the coordinated management of all content throughout an organization, allowing for people and systems to find and use content from within any business context using platform agnostic standards.

Not going to break the definition down today.  The key here is that it is a strategy, not a system or a solution.  People can buy systems that help implement an ECM strategy, but ECM itself is not something you can just buy and install.

More on this in a second.

CMS as a System/Solution

Okay.  Tony Byrne put this very simply a few weeks back.  Content Management is the management of content.  Let’s keep things simple. A CMS would logically be a system that manages content.

No mention of the type of content.  Could be web content, images, video, audio, spreadsheets, presentations, records, or any number of things.

So what would fall under this large umbrella?  Lots of things.

  • Web CMS: This is what is more often referred to as CMS.  This area needs work and further discussion, but it can wait.
  • ECM Platform: This is the Documentum/FileNet/Store-it-all solution.  It helps implement that ECM Strategy.  It doesn’t mean you have to put everything in there, but you can put everything in there.
  • Collaboration Systems: This is SharePoint’s sweet spot (though Microsoft is aimer higher with 2010).  EMC’s CenterStage falls in this area.
  • Document Management Systems: There are systems that do this, but I think that they will be subsumed by Collaboration Systems down the road.  SharePoint is leading that convergence.  It isn’t enough to just manage documents, but people want ways to work together around that content.

This is not a definitive list by any means.  The point is that CMS is broad and refers to the systems and solutions that help implement strategies or solve business problems.

One Not So Minor Detail Left

There is one big question left out of all of this, what does it mean to Manage content? That is the crux of my issue with systems like WordPress.

That is a discussion for another day, but feel free to share your thoughts.

9 thoughts on “ECM and CMS Living In Harmony

    • Not trying to coin terms. The secret there is that Document Management is a domain/strategy for that type of content. You have to buy a DM system/solution to implement. Most of the terms that end in “Management” aren’t things you buy off of the shelf. They are approaches to solving the problem.

      Also, remember that Document Management is a valid business problem that can be part of an overall ECM strategy. I talked about the relationship between DM and ECM back in January.

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    • Well, I know a few people that could benefit from a system to help manage all of their Documentum installations and projects. I think this new Documentum Management System might sell like hot cakes.

      P.S. WordPress is a CMS 😉

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