In the discussion of what ECM is, we’ve seen a few analogies lately of comparing ECM (Enterprise Content Management) with ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning)- me included. Most of this discussion is around the ‘E’ (such as this by Jon Marks) but I thought I’d have a look at the M. Management. Yes, yes.. I know there is no ‘M’ in ERP – but bear with me..

My observation is that the problem with pairing these two together is that while they both ‘manage’ assets, we define ‘manage’ differently in these two scenarios – in ECM ‘manage’ also includes the storage of the asset, whereas in ERP ‘manage’ is just to know about it. I think in the CMS world we should learn from that.

In other words – an ERP system isn’t the warehouse, it isn’t the specialist paint line, the drying oven, the big thing that goes kachugga-kachagga that spits out a new thing or the people that crank the handle.

In Enterprise Content Management (or whatever you call your CMS implementation) – it is often all of those things – it is the tool for creating content, for storing content, for checking,  and for publishing. We overlay onto management and understanding of the thing – with the doing things with it.

So, while making content has a small bill of material (people and knowledge) we assume that our systems will cover everything from harvesting the raw material to arranging it neatly on the shelves. It’s the combine harvester, kachugga-kachagga machine, the shelf, the store etc.

Whereas ERP just lets you know the cost of the thing, where it is, how many you’ve got, that it passed through testing, how many people bought one yesterday and what it will take to make another one.

If we think about what an ERP system knows about things, with content we obviously call that meta-data, work flow processes and web logs.

And when we talk about audience engagement or ECM – what we know about things is as critical as the thing itself.

But how many organisations know how many items of content they have that features the name of their CEO?

Or how many feature the main keyword that describes the thing they want to be known for?

Or have any description at all?

Or how many are incomplete or broken?

Or even simply how many content items they have?

Lets make it easier – lets ignore the morass of content stuffed into virtual cupboards in the office and think about the stuff that the audience can see.

How many do you think Google, your employee, or your customer can find of these?

It’s not ERP if you can’t do a simple stock take.

If you still can’t get over the fact that there is no ‘M’ in ERP, those guys have an identity crises as much as we CMS folks do – don’t believe me – read this!

“M” Image is from a Fritz Lang film  poster, read more about that film here.