The difference between Document Management and Knowledge Management

When it comes to organizing information, the two most common solutions are document management and knowledge management. A lot of business owners think that document management and knowledge management are the same thing. In this article, we’ll break down the differences between the two and explain when you should implement a knowledge management system and when you should stick to a document management system.

Stacked notebooks used for document management

What is document management?

The word document management (DM) describes the process of capturing, storing, and retrieving electronic versions of previously paper-based documents through PDFs, word processing files, and digital images. To manage their digital documents and benefit from additional security, access control, centralized storage, and streamlined search and retrieval options, many companies make use of document management systems.

Document Management Systems (DMS), is the use of a computer system and software to store, manage and track electronic documents and electronic images of paper-based information captured through the use of a document scanner. DMS today range in size and scope from small, standalone systems to large scale enterprise-wide configurations serving a global audience.  Many DMS provide a means to incorporate standard physical document filing practices electronically. 

What is knowledge management?

The classic, concise, and still-accurate definition of knowledge management says that knowledge management (KM) is the process of capturing, distributing, and effectively using knowledge.

To go a bit deeper, KM can refer to any and all processes related to the creation, sharing, use, and management of your company or organization’s knowledge. Note that knowledge management is related to, but differs from information management: Whereas information management simply provides the right information to the right people at the right time, knowledge management goes beyond that to provide insights, know-how, experience, and guidance about that information. KM is mentorship in written form.

In other words, knowledge management encompasses a multidisciplinary approach to organizing, accessing, and leveraging shared intellectual assets to enhance performance, increase competitiveness, and achieve other company goals. As such, KM is an integral component of an overall business strategy.