Enterprise Content Management ( ECM) includes methods, techniques and tools to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes in the company. ECM performs structured, weakly structured and unstructured information together.

The term Enterprise Content Management is a modern art word to describe products, solutions, a market and an industry. It is composed of three individual terms that have a special meaning in this combination:

  • Enterprise is (in the sense of a company) for a usable solution of all privileged (access and editing rights ) of a company. In addition, the term Enterprise expands in this context to companies in the broadest sense of ( private projects, associations, public institutions, etc.).
  • Content stands for any content in electronic systems.
  • Management is for managing, processing and control of systems.

There have been several attempts to transfer the term Enterprise Content Management in the German language, such as enterprise content management or enterprise content management. These experiments suffer because they involve themselves unfamiliar conceptions without borders anglicisms as a word constituent. Meanwhile, the term Enterprise Content Management and associated acronym ECM in the German language has been established.


The accepted definition of the acronym ECM and the concept of enterprise content management comes from the industry association AIIM International: " Enterprise Content Management includes the technologies to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes." ECM closes while a conventional techniques such as input management, document management, collaboration, web content management, workflow, business process management, output management, storage and electronic archiving. ECM is a branch of information management and is primarily concerned with weakly structured or unstructured information, which are also referred to as documents or content.

Especially the Internet changed the previous document - concept and the related solution offerings. One speaks of modern content and related systems such as content management, web content management or enterprise content management. Document and content have different quality, you can not use the terms interchangeably. For content, the closed character of the electronic document is dissolved. Structural information, descriptive metadata, layouts are managed separately from the content so that the content in various forms, for various purposes can be used. Enterprise Content Management itself is only one of the various terms in the context of Content Management. Enterprise Content Management's mission, and Web content management with include (see the individual ECM components ). However, one must state that ECM can serve at best as a vision, strategy or designation of an industry in the face of universal entitlement and the countless components of Enterprise Content Management - a closed system solution or a single product is not ECM. One can therefore ECM synonymous with DRT Document Related Technologies or DLM Document Lifecycle Management ( Document Lifecycle Management) position only as a possible summary group name for the different techniques, approaches and product companies.

The term enterprise content management involves the combination of words and content management overlaps so simultaneously with the claim of content management. Before you can turn to a definition of ECM, therefore needs the term content management (CM) and the definition for Web Content Management ( WCM) are considered.


Enterprise Content Management starts from the approach, all information of a company on a uniform platform for use internally in the federation and provided externally ( " Unified Federated Repository," Data / Document / Content- Warehouse). ECM includes conventional information technologies such as document management, knowledge management (knowledge management ), workflow management, archiving, etc. and integrates the host and client / server world with portal and other Internet technologies. Goal of ECM is to avoid redundancy of data and documents ( any information exists only once ) to control access uniformly, regardless of source and usage to provide any information to share as a service to all applications uniformly available.

ECM is a basic technology of e-business to provide the information and control of the processes required.

The term Enterprise Content Management solutions therefore be summarized, although also use Internet technologies, but mainly aimed at the in-house provision of information. The solutions tend to be enterprise portals for B2B and B2E as extranet and intranet. The majority of the existing document management, groupware and workflow providers who have not yet fully converted their architecture and merely a web server in front of their applications, are also found in this category again.

Enterprise Content Management is pursuing a component approach that provides the necessary infrastructure for arbitrary applications in several layers. It positions itself as a middleware whose services are available to all applications. Key areas for application that are based on infrastructure components of enterprise content management, include:


Looking at the definitions of the different applications of ECM and WCM, it is clear that the still existing differences in the system categories can not be maintained for long. This applies to the products and the technical platforms as well as for the use of models. What is still used today as a pure in-house solution, should be tomorrow already made available to the partners or customers. The content and structure of today, focused on visibility web portal should already be the platform for internal information delivery tomorrow.

ECM is to overcome the restrictions of existing vertical applications and "island" architectures. The user does not, in principle, that he is working with an ECM solution. For the new world " of web-based IT ", which established itself as a kind of third platform alongside conventional host and Client-/Server-Systemen, ECM provides the necessary infrastructure. For the introduction and use of ECM therefore Enterprise Application Integration ( EAI) plays a special role.

The claim of an enterprise content management system, in contrast to pure web content management is manifested by Ulrich Kampffmeyer, 2001, in three main concepts:

  • Enterprise Content Management components as independent services: ECM to manage information regardless of source, regardless of the required experience. The function is here provided as a service of a variety of applications within a service -oriented architecture (SOA ) can be used. The advantage of a service concept is that for each function is only one general service is available and redundant, expensive -to-maintain and expensive parallelism same function is avoided.
  • Enterprise Content Management as a single repository for all types of information: the ECM to as Content Warehouse merge (global data warehouse and document warehouse ) information of the company in a uniformly structured repository. Costly redundancy and related problems of the consistency of information to be overcome. All applications deliver their content into a single repository, which in turn all applications provides the information you need.
  • EAI Enterprise Application Integration connects all the components: ECM assigns itself as a collection of infrastructure components in a multi- layer model and includes all DRT Document Related Technologies for handling, indexing and managing poorly structured data. ECM enterprise content management thus represents one of the necessary basic components of the overarching field of application E-Business dar.

Enterprise Content Management is working correctly if the user does not notice it practically. ECM techniques are infrastructure support as subordinate services specialist applications. ECM also claims to manage all the information of a WCM and cover with a universal repository with the requirements of archiving.


For ECM solutions, the different techniques and components are combined, which can be used in part as a stand-alone solutions make sense without the claim to a company-wide system.

These ECM components and techniques can be classified into five main categories:

  • Capture ( Capture )
  • Administration ( management )
  • Storage ( Store)
  • Output ( deliverable ) and

This model is based on the five key concepts of the definition of AIIM International. The previous classical fields of application

  • Document Management (DM, DMS, document management),
  • Collaboration ( cooperation support systems, groupware )
  • Web Content Management (WCM, CMS, including portals),
  • Records Management ( RM, archive and storage management systems with the use of long-term storage media) and
  • Workflow / Business Process Management ( BPM, workflow management )

Form the actual management components (administrative and processing components ), connect the Capture, Store, Deliver and Preserve and combined or can be used as an alternative.

While document management, web content management, collaboration, workflow and business process management are chiefly responsible for the dynamic part of the life cycle of information, the task of records management is the management no longer changing information. Floating above the use of information, whether by independent client of the ECM system components or be it in the form of an " enabling" existing applications (function is integrated into an existing application so, so that no client interface is required) accessing the functions of the ECM and the services information stored. Especially the integration of existing technologies is clear that ECM does not appear as a new product category, but positioned itself as an integrating force.