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Why choose between ECM and a collaborative tool?

Do you want to set up a system to manage and archive your documents that is reliable, easy to use and collaborative, but you don’t know which tool to use?

What does RM (Records Management) consist of?

Records Management (RM) is a process to organize and manage every document, from creation to its final destiny: storage for the legally required period and elimination from the archives. This concept encompasses and takes into account organization, administration and management of all the documents an organization produces, regardless of their medium or form. Its purpose is to facilitate access to these documents and protect them.

Records Management has several different objectives:

  • Reduce paper
  • No more lost or incorrectly classified documents
  • Improve risk management
  • Find documents easily
  • Guarantee authenticity
  • Optimize archiving space, management and processes

It’s easy to see how Records Management therefore creates added value for an organization.

What is an ECM?

ECM is the acronym for: Enterprise Content Management, providing electronic content management.

An ECM enables you to store, manage and share your documents and other content in different formats (e-mails, PDF documents, paper documents, digital documents, etc.). A complete ECM enables you to COLLECT, CLASSIFY, STORE, MANAGE and finally ARCHIVE your content with complete security.

What kind of tool do I need to archive and manage my company’s content?

The questions to ask

First, let’s take stock. Many tools available on the market enable you to “manage” content and archiving. They meet the diverse needs of companies and offer different functions and functionalities.

First and foremost, it is important to assess your needs by asking yourself some simple questions.

  • What do I need?
  • How much data do I need to store and manage?
  • How many people are going to use this tool, and how often?
  • Do I need to be able to customize it?
  • Do I need to automate classification?
  • What are the essential points for me? I need to guarantee the legal value of a document, I need to be able to interface with my business solutions, I need to make sure documents can be collected simply, and classified in detail, etc.

To sum up, you can see that this is a choice that requires careful thought, because it has a direct impact on your organization. This choice is part and parcel of a project-based approach, with a corresponding methodology that can be summarized in three main steps:

  • Audit existing documents
  • Define a repository, guaranteeing the archiving policy
  • Define the processes for identifying, sorting, scanning and managing information.

Of course to do so, you can consult experts in paperless operations to support you as you make your assessment.

Comparison of ECM vs Pure collaborative tool

Then the question arises about which family of solutions to select. To help you find the answer, we have drawn up a COMPARISON between ECM solutions and PURE COLLABORATIVE TOOL solutions.

La Management of users and their authorizations to access different documents or types of documents


But set-up is complex


Easily and transparently.

Document indexing with metadata


The number of metadata is limited

Manage the GDPR with a document’s expiry dates


Configuration to perform as part of a policy that is set up by the company/organization


Simplified configuration using buttons

Manage all the regulatory requirements (signature, transfer to electronic archive system, storage, faithful scanning, etc.)


Possible with multiple external integrators


DDirectly in the application

Guarantee the legal value of a document, its integrity, its authenticity


For documents with no specificities


For documents with high legal value, availability of electronic certificates integrated into the tool and offered by third party vendors


Every document is assigned a unique identification number when it is created. This number guarantees the document’s traceability, integrity and authenticity directly in the ECM.

Track consultation, guarantee a reliable audit trail to eliminate paper


Third party tools are required. To guarantee the authenticity of a document scanned from a paper version, it is necessary to use a third party tool or a procedure to authenticate the scanning device and the person who scanned (depending on the device manufacturer).

Document scanning and indexing


Requires a series of third party tools.


Directly in the application, applying to all kinds of document.
Workflows and streams


With prior configuration.


Management and even automation of streams.

Ildiko LECLERC is an expert in paperless operations. She alerts us about certain key points which you must include in your assessment. Collaborative tools are very useful for collaborating and can meet needs for document archiving and Records Management. However, they are not management systems like EDM or ECM.

If what you need is a Records Management type of ECM to process the entire life cycle of your documents and to manage document files, this requires a specific kind of know-how, and highly specialized Records Management skills (technical, legal, functional, regulatory). In most cases, partners specialized in collaborative tools do not have these skills.

The leading collaborative tools on the market are toolboxes. In theory they can do virtually anything, but you have to know exactly how to use them and be willing and able to carry out the complex and time-consuming configuration work which requires various external tools, especially for archiving purposes.

If you opt for a pure collaborative tool, and you want to have a solution that covers all the regulatory requirements (faithful digitization, signature methods, storage, transfers to electronic archive systems, etc.), you will have to bring in several external vendors and integrators. As a result multiples interlocuteurs the number of people involved will multiply, and it will be necessary to set up a large internal team to ensure project coherence. That’s why for this type of use, collaborative tools are more suitable for very large accounts.


In conclusion, if you opt for a high performance ECM such as EFALIA’s FileDirector you are choosing to have a single interlocutor whose expertise covers the whole of the EDM and ECM scope (in the Records Management sense). The standards for life cycle management of documents and files will be fulfilled.

The work tools with a purely collaborative scope do not provide a ready-to-use or turnkey EDM or ECM solution (again in the Records Management sense).


Nevertheless it should be noted that the collaborative intranet approach of certain leading collaborative work solutions gives users a modern experience and a user interface that is easy to access. Collaborative working even includes some team sites.
Our FileDirector ECM is capable of interfacing with your chosen Collaborative work tool. So there is no longer any need to choose between a Content Management system and simple collaboration: just combine them!