Enterprise content management system

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For enterprise content management systems ( ECMS ), a wide variety of enterprise content management components and technologies are combined, some of which can also be used sensibly as stand-alone solutions without the requirement of a company-wide system. The ECM components and technologies can be classified according to the definition of the umbrella organization AIIM internationally in five main components:

Enterprise Content Management: ECM components. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003
  • Capture
  • Administration (Manage)
  • Storage (store)
  • Preserve
  • Output (Deliver)

The "Manage" component comprises the five sub-components:

Components of Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

ECM systems are offered as individual program modules, components, subsystems, building blocks, closed complete solutions or integrated as a "suite". The scope of Enterprise Content Management and the composition of the components can vary and has already been expanded several times. In terms of a service-oriented architecture , the components are mostly understood as services.


ECM components: Capture. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

The Capture category includes functionality and components for creating, capturing, preparing and processing analog and electronic information. A distinction is made between several levels and techniques, from the simple acquisition of information to the complex processing through automatic classification. The capture components are also often summarized as " input " components and referred to as " input management ".

Manually generated and scanned information

All forms of information can occur in manual entry , from paper documents , electronic office documents, e-mails , forms , multimedia objects, digitized speech and video to microfilm . The capture of paper-based documents and film recordings is known as scanning .

Machine generated and automatically recorded information

In the case of semi-automatic or automatic recording, EDI or XML documents, commercial and ERP applications or existing specialist application systems can be the source for recording. The automatic transfer of data usually takes place in the so-called COLD process.

Techniques for handling and processing recorded information

Various recognition techniques (recognition, pattern recognition ) are used to process scanned facsimiles ( image processing ) . They include:

Barcodes applied when sending forms can be automatically recognized and assigned when the returns are read in.
Handprint Character Recognition (HCR)
The recognition of handwriting is a further development of OCR, which however still does not deliver satisfactory results with continuous texts. The method is already very reliable when reading out defined field contents.
ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition)
ICR is a further development of OCR and HCR, which improves the quality of the read out results through comparisons, logical relationships, comparison with reference lists or check tables.
Optical Mark Recognition (OMR)
OMR, e.g. B. for barcodes, reads special markings in predefined fields with high certainty and has proven itself in questionnaire campaigns and other forms.
Text recognition (Optical Character Recognition, OCR)
The image information is converted into machine-readable characters. OCR is used for machine writing.

image editing

Image processing techniques from Document Imaging are used not only to display scanned images (facsimiles), but also to improve readability for capture. Functions such as “despeckling”, the removal of isolated pixels or “adjustment”, the straightening out of crooked originals, improve the results of the recognition. Document imaging functions are used in the capture process for quality control after scanning or receiving digital faxes .

Form processing

When capturing forms, two groups of techniques are still distinguished today, although the information content and the character of the documents can be the same:

Forms processing
"Forms Processing" refers to the acquisition of industrially or individually printed forms by means of scanning. Recognition techniques are then often used, since well-designed forms enable largely automatic processing.
E-Forms / Web-Forms (processing of electronic forms )
When recording electronic forms, automatic processing is possible if the layout , structure, logic and content are known to the recording system.


COLD / ERM are procedures for the automated processing of structured input files. The term COLD stands for Computer Output on LaserDisk and has held up, although the medium LaserDisk has not been on the market for years. The acronym ERM stands for Enterprise Report Management. In both cases, the aim is to prepare the delivered output files on the basis of existing structural information so that they can be indexed independently of the generating system and transferred to a storage component such as a dynamic storage (store) or an archive (preserve). "Aggregation" is a process of combining data input from various creation, recording and supplying applications. The purpose is to merge and standardize information from different sources in order to transfer it to the storage and processing systems in a structured and standardized format.

Components for the content development of recorded information

Additional indexing, routing and classification components are added to the systems for forwarding and content indexing, which process the recorded and digitally available information and add descriptive features. These include:

Categorization ( automatic classification or categorization)
On the basis of the information contained in the electronic information objects, be it facsimiles, office files or output files converted by OCR, programs for automatic classification can independently extract index, assignment and forwarding data. Such systems can evaluate information based on predefined criteria or self-learning.
Indexing (manual indexing, indexing )
In contrast to German, the term indexing in Anglo-American is limited to the manual assignment of index attributes, which are used in the database by a "Manage" component for administration and access to the information. In German, terms such as “indexing”, “attributing” or “key words” are also used here.
Input designs (profiles describing properties, entry masks)
Both automatic and manual attribution can be facilitated and improved by stored profiles. Such profiles can e.g. B. Describe document classes that limit the number of possible index values ​​or automatically assign certain criteria. Input designs also includes the input masks and their logic for manual indexing.

The aim of all "Capture" components is to make the recorded information available to the "Manage" components for further processing or archiving.

ECM components: Manage components. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

Manage (administration, processing, use)

The "Manage" components are used to manage, process and use the information. You own this

The aim of a closed ECM system is to provide these two components only once across the board for all “manage” solutions such as document management, collaboration, web content management, records management and workflow / business process management as services . To connect the different "Manage" components, it should have standardized interfaces and secure transaction processes for communication between the components.

DM Document Management (document management)

ECM components: Document Management. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

Document management here is not to be understood as the industry name DMS, but rather the document management systems in the “classic” or “narrower sense”. The task of these systems is to control the lifecycle of the documents from creation to long-term archiving . Document management includes the following functions:

  • Checkin / Checkout to control the consistency of the stored information
  • Search and navigate to find information and related information contexts
  • Version management to control different statuses of the same information with versions, revisions and renditions (same information in a different format)
  • Visualization for displaying information in structures such as virtual files , directories and overviews

However, the functions of Document Management overlap increasingly with those of the other ECM “Manage” components, with the ever more extensive functionality of Office applications with the properties of “Library Services” for the technical storage of information (see below) and through the integration of further document technologies .

Collaboration (collaboration, collaborative systems, groupware)

ECM components: collaboration. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

Collaboration really just means working together. The claim of these solutions, which have developed from groupware , goes further and also includes areas of application of knowledge management . The following functions belong to the collaboration :

  • Shared information bases
  • Joint, simultaneous and controlled processing of information
  • Integration of information from other applications in the context of joint information processing
  • Communication applications such as video conferencing
  • Management components such as whiteboards for collecting ideas, schedules, project management and others
  • Knowledge bases about skills, resources and background data for the joint processing of information

Web content management (WCM)

ECM components: Web content management. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

Enterprise content management includes web content management (web content management systems, WCMS ). The provision of content on the Internet and extranet or on a portal should only be a representation of information that is already available in the company, controlled by authorizations and information storage. The following functions belong to web content management:

  • Automatic conversion for different ad formats, personalized ads and versioning
  • Provision and management of information for web presentations
  • Creation of new or preparation of existing information in a controlled creation and publication process
  • Secure separation of access to public and non-public information
  • Visualization for the presentation with Internet means (browser display, HTML , XML, etc.)

Records management (records management, filing and archive management)

ECM components: Records Management. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

In contrast to traditional electronic archive systems , records management (RM; Electronic Records Management, ERM) refers to the pure administration of records, important information that is required to be kept or is worth keeping. Records management is standardized by ISO 15489 and specified in Europe by the MoReq standard. Document management is independent of storage media and can e.g. B. also manage the information not stored in electronic systems. The electronic records management (ERM) includes the following functions:

  • Mapping of file plans and other structured directories for the orderly storage of information (e.g. in a registry (file) application)
  • Use of international, industry-specific or at least company-wide standardized metadata for the clear identification and description of the stored information
  • Protection of information according to its properties, e.g. Sometimes except for individual content components in documents
  • Unique indexing and classification of information supported by thesaurus or controlled vocabulary
  • Manage retention periods (retention schedules) and annihilation periods (Deletion Schedules)

Workflow (Wf) / Business Process Management (BPM, transaction processing)

ECM components: Workflow / Business Process Management. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

The German term process processing does not uniquely match the term workflow or the term business process management (BPM).

A distinction is made between different types of workflow , such as B. the

  • “Ad hoc workflow”, in which the user himself specifies the sequence of the process at runtime, and the
  • "Production Workflow", which controls and controls the processes on the basis of predefined procedures.

Workflow solutions can be saved as

  • "Workflow application" can be implemented with an independent client, with which the user mainly works, or in the form of a
  • “Workflow Engine”, which controls the flow of information and data as a service underground in the systems without the need for a separate client .

The workflow management includes the following functions:

  • Mapping of process and organizational structures
  • Design tools for the design and display of processes (see e.g. business process modeling )
  • Integration of processing tools for data (e.g. specialist applications) and documents (e.g. Office products)
  • Receive, manage, visualize and forward related information with associated documents or data
  • Control and documentation of processing statuses, routes and results

The aim of the application is extensive automation of processes with the integration of all necessary resources

  • Parallel and sequential processing of processes including recording of processing
  • Resubmission , deadlines, delegation and other administrative functionality.

Business Process Management (BPM) goes one step further than workflow. BPM strives for the complete integration of all affected applications in a company with control of the processes and consolidation of all necessary information. The following functions belong to BPM:

  • Business intelligence (BI) with stored sets of rules, integration of information warehouses and auxiliary programs that support the user in his professional activities
  • Enterprise Application Integration (EAI) for connecting different applications
  • Process and data control at server level
  • Complete workflow functionality


ECM components: Store. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

The "Store" components are used for the temporary storage of information that is not worth or must be archived. Even if media are used that are suitable for long-term archiving , the “store” is separated from the “preservation” by the storage strategy. In German usage, these components are to be equated with “filing” as opposed to “archive”.

The listed "Store" components can be assigned to three different areas, "Repositories" as storage locations, "Library Services" as management components for the storage locations, and "Technologies" as different storage technologies . Also to these infrastructure components that z. Part of how the file system is located at the operating system level, include the security techniques that are dealt with in the “Deliver” section below. The security techniques, including the authorization system, are to be viewed as an overarching component of an ECM solution.

Repositories (storage locations, data storage systems)

The possible repositories of an ECM that can also be used in combination include:

Content management system
At this point the actual storage system for the content is meant, which can be a database or a specialized independent storage system.
Data warehouses
Data warehouses are database-based, complex storage systems that reference information from a wide variety of sources or make it available directly. They can also be designed with a more global approach as a document warehouse or information warehouse.
File system
The file system is primarily used for temporary intermediate storage, see above. z. B. Ingress and egress caches are used. The aim of ECM is to relieve the file system of information and to make it generally available through "Manage", "Store" and "Preservation" techniques.
On the one hand, databases are used to manage the access information. But they can also be used directly to store documents, content or media assets.

Library services (information management services)

Library services only have to do with libraries in a figurative sense . They are the system-level management components with which the information is accessed. The library service is ultimately responsible for receiving and storing information from the “Capture” and “Manage” components. It also manages the storage locations in the dynamic storage, the actual "Store", and in the long-term archive, the "Preserve" category. The storage location is only determined by the properties and class of the information to be stored. The library service works together with the database of the "Manage" components. This creates the necessary information retrieval functions

  • Search and
  • Retrieval (retrieval, retrieval)

served. While the database has no knowledge of the physical storage location of an object, the library service manages

  • Online storage (data and documents with direct access),
  • Nearline storage (data and documents on a medium that can be accessed by the drive, but must first be inserted by robotics, for example) and
  • Offline storage (data and documents on a medium that has been outsourced and is not automatically accessed by a system).

For this purpose include memory management systems and HSM hierarchical storage management is used.

Unless a higher-level document management system provides the functionality, the library service must be a

  • Version management to control different levels of information, and
  • Checkin / checkout for the controlled provision of information


An important function of the library service is the generation of logs and journals for the use of the information and for changes to the information, which are called "audit trails" in Anglo-American. The term ILM Information Lifecycle Management has meanwhile become established for such intelligent storage management systems .

Storage techniques

For the storage of the information, very different storage technologies and media can be used depending on the application and the system environment.

  • Re-writable online magnetic storage. These include hard disks as RAID (Redundant Array of Independent Disks) hard disk subsystems on the server, SAN (Storage Area Networks) as storage infrastructure or NAS (Network Attached Storage) storage areas made directly accessible in networks.
  • Magnetic tapes in automated storage units such as tape libraries are used more like DAT tapes in smaller environments for data backup and not for online access.
  • Digital Optical Disk ( digital optical storage media ) such as CD (CD-R Writable Once Compact Disk, CD / RW Writable Compact Disk), DVD (Digital Versatile Disk), MO (Magneto Optical), UDO ( Ultra Density Optical ) and others can be used for backup and distribution, but also in jukeboxes as near-line storage (automatic disk changers).

Preserve (preserve, preserve, archive)

ECM components: Preserve. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

The "Preserve" components of ECM serve the long-term stable, static and unchangeable storage and security of information. In German-speaking countries, this is the field of application for electronic long-term archiving . The latter, however, has much more functionality than subsumed under "Preserve" (Preservation; Digital Preservation). Electronic archive systems are usually a combination of management software such as records management, imaging or document management, library services (IRS information retrieval systems) and storage subsystems.

Not only electronic media are suitable for long-term storage. Microfilm, which can now be used in hybrid systems with electronic media and database-supported access, is still suitable for purely securing information.

The removal of information that is no longer required, that has become invalid or that is to be deleted is also called cassation .

Storage techniques

The "Preserve" storage system components include:

  • WORM (Write Once Read Many) rotating digital optical storage media, to which the classic WORM in a protective cover in 5 ¼ ″ or 3 ½ ″ technology as well as CD-R and DVD-R belong. The recording techniques of the media that are made available in jukeboxes for online and automated nearline access are different.
  • WORM tape ( magnetic tape with WORM properties) is used in special drives which, with specially secured tapes, can achieve a level of security similar to that of a traditional WORM medium when operated properly.
  • Content-Addressed Storage (CAS) magnetic hard disk storage that is protected by special software against overwriting, erasure and modification like a WORM medium
  • Network Attached Storage (NAS) / Storage Area Network (SAN) can also be used if they meet the requirements of revision security with unchangeable storage, protection against manipulation and deletion, etc.
  • Microfilm ( microform according to DIN) can be used as a backup medium if the information is no longer in use and no machine evaluability is required.
  • Paper is also to be taken into account as long-term storage of information, as the recording is migration-free and can be read without tools. As with microfilm, it is only a question of securing originally electronic information.


The timely planning and regular implementation of migrations in order to keep the information available in changing technical environments is decisive for electronic archiving and for all long-term storage systems. This continuous process is also called 'Continuous Migration' according to Kampffmeyer.

Deliver (deliver, provide, issue)

ECM components: Deliver. Source: AIIM / PROJECT CONSULT 2003

The "Deliver" components of ECM are used to provide the information from the "Manage", "Store" and "Preserve" components. However, they also contain functions which in turn are used for entering information into systems (e.g. information transfer to media or generation of formatted output files) or for the preparation of information (e.g. conversion or compression ) for "Store" and "Preserve" components. Since the view of the AIIM component model is functionally compiled and must not be seen as an architecture, the assignment of these and other components is permitted here. The functionality in the “Deliver” category is also referred to as “ Output ” and is summarized under the term “ Output Management ”.

The “Deliver” category comprises three groups of functions and media: “Transformation Technologies”, “Security Technologies” and “Distribution”. Transformation and security belong as services on a middleware level and should be equally available to all ECM components. The task of the various "deliver" components is to always provide the information optimally prepared for the recipient and to control use as far as possible.

Two functions are important for the "output":

  • Layout / design with tools for designing and formatting the issues and
  • Publishing, applications for providing information for distribution and publication.

Transformation Technologies (transformation techniques, conversion)

Transformations should always be loss-free, controlled and traceable. For this, services are used in the background that are usually not available to the end user. The transformation techniques include:

  • In contrast to the "Capture" component, COLD / ERM is to be seen here as the preparation of data from outputs for distribution, printing and transfer to the archive . Typical applications are lists and formatted output, e.g. B. individualized customer letters. These techniques include the journals and logs generated by the ECM components.
  • Personalization ( Personalization ) is no longer just a function of web-based portals, but applies to all ECM components. Through personalization, the user is only offered the functionality and information that he needs.
  • XML (eXtensible Markup Language) is a description language that allows interfaces , structures, metadata and documents to be described. XML is establishing itself as the universal technique for describing information.
  • Portable Document Format (PDF) is an intelligent print and distribution format that allows information to be made available regardless of platform. In contrast to pure image formats such as TIFF , content can be searched for, metadata added and electronic signatures embedded in PDF. As an internationally standardized format, PDF / A is also suitable for archiving.
  • Converters and viewers are used on the one hand to reformatting information in order to generate uniform formats, and on the other hand to display and output information in different formats.
  • Compression ( compression , compression) is used to reduce the storage space required for pictorial information. The ITU procedure (CCITT) for TIFF is used for b / w and JPEG 2000 for color images . Any files for data transmission can also be compressed using the “ ZIP ” method.
  • Syndication is used to provide content (content) in different formats, selections and processing forms in the context of content management. Through syndication, the same content can be used multiple times in different forms and for different purposes.

Security Technologies

The security technologies belong to the cross-sectional functions that are available to all ECM components as services. Electronic signatures are not only used when documents are sent, but can also be required when recording or scanning in order to document the completeness of the recording.

  • PKI ( Public Key Infrastructure ) is the basic technology for the use of electronic signatures . It manages keys and certificates and checks the authenticity of signatures.
  • Digital signatures (electronic signatures) serve to verify the authenticity of the sender and the integrity of the transmitted message for documents during transmissions. H. to prove the unchangedness and completeness. In Europe there are three forms of electronic signature with different quality and security: simple, advanced and qualified. In Germany, the qualified electronic signature is legally anchored in legal transactions and contracts.
  • Digital Rights Management / Watermark (electronic rights management) is used particularly in content syndication and in MAM Media Asset Management to manage and secure copyrights . Techniques such as electronic watermarks , which are integrated directly into the documents, are used for this purpose. The aim is to protect rights and secure content when it is published on the Internet.


All of the techniques mentioned above essentially serve to provide the different contents of an ECM in a controlled and usage-oriented manner to the target group in different ways. This can include active components such as e-mail, data storage media or circulars as well as passive publication on websites and portals, where the target group makes use of the information on offer. The following can be used as possible output and distribution media:

ECM software

Commercial ECM software

Software for ECM or for enterprise content management systems is offered by various companies, some of which are software manufacturers specializing in ECM technologies. This includes the following software solutions and manufacturers:

Free ECM software

For some time, there is also free software for ECM (under royalty-free open source - licenses ). Free ECM software can be installed and used by companies themselves. However, there are also system houses that have specialized in free ECM programs and provide paid services based on this software. Well-known examples of free enterprise content management systems include:

Subject-specific ECM software

Subject-specific ECM solutions have been developed for special areas of application. These result, for example, from special application scenarios or regulatory framework conditions:

Market overviews / analyst reports

  • The analyst firm Forrester lists ECM solutions under "Content platforms" in its Now Tech Report 2018; it lists about 20 European ECM providers.
  • The market research company Gartner has been evaluating providers in the field of enterprise content management under the label "Content Services Platforms (CSPs)" since 2017


  1. Kampffmeyer, 2003.
  2. History and definition on the talk page. This article details the summary in the main article Enterprise Content Management .
  3. ^ AIIM Association for Information and Image Management International, Silversprings, USA, AIIM website
  4. Structure, compilation, descriptions and illustrations follow Kampffmeyer 2003.
  5. For the definition of a suite, see Kampffmeyer, 2006
  6. Extensions are e.g. B. Email Management, Digital Asset Management, Portals, Migration and others. A current and extended compilation of components can be found at Kampffmeyer, 2006
  7. The German term document management is much broader than the original American definition, see document management .
  8. Microsoft with Exchange, Sharepoint, Outlook and other modules as well as IBM with Lotus Notes / Domino also offer integrated document management functionality.
  9. AIIM international sees BPM Business Process Management as an essential component and as the backbone of ECM. On the market and by other professional associations, however, BPM is viewed as an independent topic. See process management and this article ( Memento of the original from April 10, 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.bpm-guide.de
  10. The use of the terms storage for the dynamic part of the life cycle in document management ("Store" according to AIIM) and archive for the static, unchangeable area ("Preserve" according to AIIM) goes back to Ulrich Kampffmeyer 1996 ( article ( Memento des original from 27 September 2007 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. ). "Store" and "Preserve" are also combined under the term "ILM" " Information Lifecycle Management " by the providers of storage systems . @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot / www.project-consult.net
  11. Ulrich Kampffmeyer, Architecture of Document Management and Electronic Archive Systems. NfD, Nachrichten für Documentation, 47 (1996) 2, pp. 75-80.
  12. ^ Stefan Pfeiffer, Thorsten Zoerner: IBM FileNet P8 platform. In: ibm.com. IBM Deutschland GmbH, 2007, accessed September 4, 2019 .
  13. Anette Stadler (as): Forrester lists ECM solutions under content platforms. In: www.ecmguide.de. ecmguide.de, October 12, 2018, accessed on January 6, 2020 .
  14. Gartner Magic Quadrant "Content Services Platforms" (CSP) Q4 2019. PROJECT CONSULT Management Consulting Dr. Ulrich Kampffmeyer GmbH, October 30, 2019, accessed on January 6, 2020 .

Sources and literature

  • Enterprise content management - company-wide information platform of the future . IT Research Strategic Bulletin, Sauerlach 2003, ISBN 3-936052-24-7 .
  • Ulrich Kampffmeyer : Enterprise Content Management - Between Vision and Reality . Hamburg 2003. Whitepaper with the accompanying images for the contribution.
  • Ulrich Kampffmeyer: ECM Enterprise Content Management . Hamburg 2006, ISBN 3-936534-09-8 . PDF .
  • Wolfgang Riggert: ECM Enterprise Content Management - Concepts and techniques around documents , Vieweg + Teubner, 2009, ISBN 978-3-8348-0841-7 .

Web links