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What is enterprise content management software?

Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems are designed to manage all of the processes within the content life cycle, from creation and collaboration, revision and review to publication and even promotion. ECM systems contain a variety of tools to assist with each of these stages and typically include centralized reporting and analytics functions ... read more
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Brandfolder

Brandfolder is a cloud-based asset management solution that provides various processes to organize, store and retrieve media assets and manage digital rights and permissions. The solution can be customized for businesses in indust...Read more about Brandfolder

4.71 (431 reviews)

20 recommendations

DocStar ECM

DocStar Enterprise Content Management serves large and midsize businesses across all industries and provides tools to upload, store and share documents in a variety of formats. Cloud-based and on-premise versions of the software a...Read more about DocStar ECM

3.98 (94 reviews)

20 recommendations

Optix

Optix is a powerful, user-friendly document management software with workflow automation solutions, SOP management, and modern features designed to optimize business processes. With a customer footprint spanning the Fortune 500, S...Read more about Optix

4.91 (11 reviews)

15 recommendations

Contentverse

With Contentverse document management, you're never from from everything you need. Offering cloud and on-prem deployment options and customizable user configurations, Contentverse can work for the unique demands of your department...Read more about Contentverse

4.11 (19 reviews)

14 recommendations

eFileCabinet

eFileCabinet is a document management solution focused on helping businesses of any size to improve their profitability and productivity by reducing paper within their operations and streamlining their work processes. eFileCabinet...Read more about eFileCabinet

4.39 (875 reviews)

12 recommendations

M-Files

M-Files is a global leader in information management. The M-Files metadata-driven document management platform enables knowledge workers to instantly find the right information in any context, automate business processes, and enfo...Read more about M-Files

4.25 (174 reviews)

8 recommendations

Centralpoint

Centralpoint, by Oxcyon is featured in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Digital Experience Platforms is a Microsoft based technology which be installed either on-premise or in the cloud. It is an N-Tiered, highly scalable, roles based...Read more about Centralpoint

4.57 (7 reviews)

7 recommendations

Newgen Enterprise Content Management

OmniDocs ECM is an enterprise content management system, which helps medium and large businesses capture and manage content from various sources in a unified interface. The software enables teams to extract data in multiple format...Read more about Newgen Enterprise Content Management

4.00 (1 reviews)

7 recommendations

DocuPhase

The DocuPhase Enterprise Automation Platform delivers document management, workflow automation, and OCR capture tools. The DocuPhase solution is designed for companies of all sizes. It is available in both cloud-based and on-premi...Read more about DocuPhase

4.42 (62 reviews)

6 recommendations

Document Locator

Document Locator is enterprise document management software that is uniquely integrated into Microsoft Windows. The platform is integrated with Microsoft Office and other business applications, and works directly inside of Windows...Read more about Document Locator

4.50 (30 reviews)

5 recommendations

Bynder

Bynder goes far beyond managing digital assets. Our digital asset management platform enables teams to conquer the chaos of proliferating content, touchpoints, and relationships in order to thrive. With powerful and intuitive sol...Read more about Bynder

4.44 (159 reviews)

1 recommendations

MediaValet

MediaValet is a cloud-based digital asset management solution that helps marketing and creative teams easily manage, collaborate on and distribute their digital assets. With data centers across the globe, MediaValet is available t...Read more about MediaValet

4.68 (80 reviews)

1 recommendations

Cortex

For ambitious content creators in growing enterprises, Orange Logic provides a powerful digital asset management platform to increase control, creativity and commercial advantage. Our infinitely scalable, user-friendly DAM solut...Read more about Cortex

4.86 (7 reviews)

1 recommendations

Box

Clinical research data, loan applications, blueprints, and videos: It’s all content. And it’s your organization’s most valuable asset, no matter your industry. Box gives you a a single, secure platform for managing the entire cont...Read more about Box

Confluence

Confluence is a project management solution that enables organizations to create, collaborate, organize and review project documents. The system offers both cloud-based and on-premise deployment. Confluence’s editor feature a...Read more about Confluence

Wrike

Wrike is a cloud-based project management platform for teams of 20+ that is suitable for both large enterprises and SMBs. It supports remote work for various teams. This solution comes with Gantt charts, calendars, workload view f...Read more about Wrike

Marq

Marq is a cloud-based web-to-print solution that helps small to large enterprises improve sales processes via brochure printing, digital asset management and more. It enables users to design marketing materials using customizable ...Read more about Marq

Flipsnack

Flipsnack is a web application that allows users to create interactive digital publications such as magazines, brochures, flyers, and product catalogs, directly in the browser. They can design their page flip publications directly...Read more about Flipsnack

Seismic

Seismic is the industry-leading sales enablement and digital sales engagement solution, aligning go-to-market teams and empowering them to deliver engaging buyer experiences that drive growth. Seismic’s Storytelling Platform del...Read more about Seismic

SmartDocs

SmartDocs is a content management software designed to help Microsoft Word and SharePoint users collate content from various documents and view and manage them on a unified platform. Professionals can use the solution to create us...Read more about SmartDocs

Buyers Guide

Last Updated: November 23, 2022

Enterprise content management (ECM) systems could very well be the most complex, feature-rich type of business software. These systems have all the complexity of a Swiss watch and, when selected with care, can keep a company's workflows running with the same precision.

As the ways companies use content have changed and grown over time, ECM systems have also adapted and expanded. In fact, they've changed so much that the term itself is now a little outdated. (More on that in the Market Trends to Understand section.)

Despite all that change, the need for content management tools and platforms is stronger than ever before.

Hold on, you might be thinking, why are they making this so complicated? I just need something simple to manage my sales, marketing and service content. If that's the case, you're probably better suited for a simpler content management system or something purpose-built to manage company documents.

However, if you still have your sights set on the most feature-rich system for managing content, then read on! This guide will give you the perspective and understanding you need to move forward with an ECM system purchase. In it we cover:

What Are Enterprise Content Management Software Systems?
Common Features of Enterprise Content Management Software Systems
Market Trends to Understand

What Are Enterprise Content Management Software Systems?

Content includes nearly all of the written information companies use internally and externally. This can range from (internal) process documents, policies and projects to (external) marketing and sales-focused content, content for websites and content only available to paying customers. While content can refer to audio-visual and graphical content, it typically refers to text-based digital content.

ECM systems are designed to manage all of the processes within the content life cycle, from creation and collaboration, revision and review to publication and even promotion. ECM systems contain a variety of tools to assist with each of these stages and typically include centralized reporting and analytics functions to help monitor these processes individually or on the whole.

Example process workflow diagram in enterprise content management software system DocStar ECM

Example process workflow diagram in DocStar ECM (Source: docstar.com)

Given the great variety of ways companies use and produce content, it's no surprise there's an equally great variety of content management applications. Most of these applications—a selection of which are discussed below in the Common Features of Enterprise Content Management Software Systems section—fall into one of the following general categories:

  • Library services: Core ECM functionality, for storing content and making it accessible
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  • Record services: Records are a subset of content with stricter management policies
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  • Content creation and capture: Tools to start the life cycle for each piece of content
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  • Metadata management: Metadata includes information to describe and tag individual content
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  • Workflow and business process management: Handle the nuts and bolts of collaborative workflows
  •   
  • Navigation and search: Help users organize, arrange and search for content
  •   
  • Security and access control: Determine which users have which rights for specific content
  •   
  • Architecture and integration: Provides integration tools for certain platforms or via an API

Common Features of Enterprise Content Management Software Systems

The following table lists some of the more common features and applications included with ECM systems. Remember that different vendor solutions emphasize different functionality and that this list is by no means comprehensive.

Secure repository Enterprise content management software include centralized or distributed storage repositories for content and include tools for controlling levels of access.
Document IDs Provides reference names for enterprise content. These can be assigned either manually or automatically.
Format support ECM systems should provide support for a variety of file formats (.docx, .xls, .html etc.). Support can range from basic storage to full read, write and edit capabilities.
AV support ECM systems offer varying levels of support for non-text-based formats, such as audio, video and image file formats.
Check-in/check-out This function ensures that content is only modified by one user at a time. This is accomplished by extending read-only rights to some users while other users are in the process of modifying content.
Offline document access This lets users download content to be worked on offline. It usually also includes a sync function to update the content once the user returns online.
Template management Lets users create, deploy and work from content templates. Templates improve consistency and make it faster to recreate versions of commonly used content formats.
Record management Records are content that relate to business transactions. They can have higher retention and documentation requirements, which some ECM systems support.
Scanning and capture These tools help digitize paper documents with functions such as optical character recognition (OCR).
Document creation Lets authors enter new documents into the ECM repository directly from the authoring application, rather than through a separate upload process.
Automatic registration Automatically supplies the required metadata when new documents are submitted. Metadata includes document IDs, content types and file names.
Bulk import and export Lets users upload/download groups of files to and from the ECM system's repository, saving time and effort.
Workflow definitions Create and implement prescribed workflows (sequential tasks) for different types of content. These tasks can then be assigned to specific users or user roles.
Graphical workflow design An intuitive GUI-based means of creating and editing content workflows, an improvement over text or API-based editors.
Global content updates Allows for all instances of content types or metadata fields to be updated when a single update is made to the relevant template.
User work queue and task list Provides individualized workspaces to each user (or user group) with a list of tasks assigned to each individual user (or user group).
Workflow reporting Gives statistics on current and past workflows, including reporting on per-task completion time, per-workflow completion time and wait time between tasks.

Market Trends to Understand

In 2016, Gartner issued the following statement:

"Content is a critical asset, a source of business insights and a driver of processes. How organizations create, manage, disseminate and exploit their enterprise content has changed in response to external market forces and internal business drivers. To reflect the changing market dynamics, Gartner is retiring the term "enterprise content management" (ECM). We believe that, going forward, the practice of managing content will be enabled as a set of services that coordinate content usage by all parties: users, systems and applications."

Source: "Reinventing ECM: Introducing Content Services Platforms and Applications" (available to Gartner clients)

One of the changing market dynamics Gartner identifies is the fact that many content-related applications and services have expanded their functionality to include functions once solely in the ECM domain. These include file sharing services, business process management and collaboration tools.

If your ECM needs are largely focused in one of these areas, then those links might be the best place to begin your product selection. Of course, you can also skip all of that and just give us a call at (844) 687-6771. After a free consultation, we'll come up with a shortlist of products for you to focus on.