Office Document Strategies Blog

Acronyms Confuse Document Management Understanding - Ten Definitions

Posted by Lee Kirkby on Wed, Jun 16, 2010 @ 14:06 PM

Document management is a long established tool of business.  For many people though it remains a world of smoke and mirrors.  One of the reasons for this is the proliferation of acronyms which the industry has spawned.  It seems that keeping language precise and understandable was intentionally avoided and creating terms which are often little understood became the norm.  In an attempt to clarify a little we offer our collection of 10 definitions or explanations of common document management terms.  To help we have referenced wikipedia to obtain some of the short definitions.


  1. ECM - Enterprise Content Management (ECM) refers to the technologies, strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to an organization and its processes. ECM tools allow the management of an enterprise level organization's information.
  2. BPM - Business process management (BPM) is a management approach focused on aligning all aspects of an organization with the wants and needs of clients. It is a holistic management approach[1] that promotes business effectiveness and efficiency while striving for innovation, flexibility, and integration with technology. Business process management attempts to improve processes continuously. It could therefore be described as a "process optimization process." It is argued that BPM enables organizations to be more efficient, more effective and more capable of change than a functionally focused, traditional hierarchical management approach.      document management acronyms
  3. DM - Document Management: Not defined as a document process in wikipedia, the common short form for document management refers to the storing of electronic documents in a structured system.  
  4. Document Imaging - Document imaging is a form of enterprise content management. In the early days of content management technologies, the term "document imaging" was used interchangeably with "document image management" as the industry tried to separate itself from the micrographic and reprographic technologies.  In the late 1980s, a new document management technology emerged: electronic document management. This technology was built around the need to manage and secure the escalating volume of electronic documents (spreadsheets, word-processing documents, e-mails) created in organizations.
  5. OCR - Optical character recognition, conversion of images of text into characters.
  6. OMR - Optical Mark Recognition software framework.  Commonly found in surveys or other forms where a simple mark on a location is used to capture data from the form. 
  7. Indexing - a feature in a computerized database which allows quick access to the rows in a table.  Commonly for document management it is the reference data which is associated with images to make searching for them easier.
  8. Metadata - Metadata is loosely defined as data about data.  For the purposes of document management it is usually data which has been added into a document which can be used to assist in storing and retrieving the document.  Commonly used in indexing PDF files as there is a standardized format for referencing data about such files embedded into the file.
  9. TIFF - Tagged Image File Format (abbreviated TIFF) is a file format for storing images, popular among Apple Macintosh owners, graphic artists, the publishing industry, and both amateur and professional photographers in general.  The most commonly used image format in document management systems in the early years it has been over taken by the popularity of PDF.  TIFF format provides more flexibility in manipulation of images for OCR, OMR Office documents collage and other advanced processes.
  10. PDF - Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for document exchange. Adobe PDF is used for representing two-dimensional documents in a manner independent of the application software, hardware, and operating system.  In recent years it has become the most common format for electronic document storage.


As you can see, when you reference the wikipedia entries, for many of these terms the confusion is expanded because they are also used in many other industries and other ways beyond document management and the acronym can mean substantially different things in other industries.  This has added to people's confusion in understanding the application and use of these systems for office document strategies.  It also has added to people's reluctance to learn more or to implement document management as a key part of their business.  When the language confuses rather than helps it is easier to avoid the topic.

What other terms do you see that help describe the industry?  Are there other ways which you have become confused about the industry?  Have you been misled by promotions or other material because of the language used?

 Lee K 

Is Electronic Filing Legal? A short presentation which outlines the legalities of using electronic document storage in the Canadian context, download it now.


Topics: document filing, document management, Document