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Differences: Document Management Systems (DMS) and Intelligent Document Processing (IDP)

Blog: ProcessMaker Blog

While vacationing, worry plagued author Victor Hugo. He had just released his new book, Les Miserables, and desperately wanted to know the sales numbers. Laboriously, he penned a letter to the publisher. Here’s the letter in its entirety:

Today, a business correspondence containing one single symbol seems inconceivable! The average document contains dozens of data points like company and individual names, phone numbers, email addresses, contract dates, and more.

The IDC estimates if we were able to store the world’s data on DVD, we’d amass a stack that could get you to the moon 23 times over. How are companies handling this torrent of documents? To help streamline this process, businesses have turned to document management systems (DMS) and intelligent document processing (IDP). 

Document management systems vs. intelligent document processing: What do they do?

Organizations today are constantly dealing with large volumes of data, making it difficult to keep track of important documents and information. 

Both DMS and IDP provide organizations with powerful tools for managing digital records while ensuring accuracy and security.

What is a document management system?

Document management systems are becoming an increasingly important part of modern business operations. They’re virtual filerooms, providing a way for businesses to store, organize, and retrieve documents securely and efficiently. Document management systems offer various features:

By using document management systems, businesses can simplify their workflow processes while ensuring that all relevant information is kept secure and up-to-date.

What is intelligent document processing?

Intelligent document processing is more than a digital filing cabinet—it’s like adding a virtual assistant to your team. 

IDP is a type of technology that uses:

Intelligent document processing systems can accurately process unstructured or semi-structured documents in multiple languages with minimal manual intervention. They can also detect errors in documents and flag them for correction. 

By leveraging intelligent document processing technologies, businesses can save time and money while ensuring accuracy in their operations.

What’s the difference between DMS and IDP?

Document management systems (DMS) are typically used to store, organize, and provide access to digital documents created in various formats. 

Intelligent document processing (IDP) is a more sophisticated form of document management that utilizes machine learning algorithms to recognize the content in various types of documents. IDP also applies structure and context to the data it reads, which allows it to automatically classify and sort the information within a document.

Key difference #1: How they handle unstructured and semi-structured data

The primary difference between DMS and IDP lies in how they handle unstructured or semi-structured data. 

A quick refresher: Structured content fits neatly into an identifiable template. For example, a spreadsheet has distinct rows and columns. On every credit card, you find the number and expiration date in a similar position. This article you’re reading has an obvious title and author. 

Unstructured data does not follow pre-set rules or adhere to a template. Data like reports, contracts, emails, images, videos, and presentations are more abstract—making it challenging for computers to make sense of the contents. 

IDP is a whiz at comprehending the meat of content—even unstructured content. It uses advanced algorithms to extract relevant information from unstructured or semi-structured documents, making it easier to manage large amounts of data quickly and accurately. For example, IDP can identify key phrases within an agreement or legal document that may be important for review or compliance purposes.

On the other hand, DMS requires employees to tag an incoming document with context clues like metadata to help systems categorize it. This can make it difficult, or even impossible, to process unstructured data efficiently. 

Key difference #2: Goodbye manual data entry, hello automation

Another important distinction between DMS and IDP is the level of automation each offers. 

While DMS relies on manual input from users, IDP uses artificial intelligence techniques such as natural language processing (NLP) to automatically index documents based on their content

This allows for more efficient analysis since all relevant information is indexed immediately rather than requiring manual entry by users. 

Additionally, IDP can identify patterns across multiple documents to quickly discover trends that would otherwise go undetected with traditional document management methods.

Key difference #3: Unlock valuable insights

Finally, while both systems can help organizations manage large volumes of digital records, only intelligent document processing offers insights into what those records contain. IDP doesn’t just file docs away for safekeeping, but can actually understand the contents to help you make better decisions. 

With IDP, you can see relationships between different sets of data as well as uncover new opportunities for process optimization and improvement within your workflows.

Which is right for you?

Both document management systems and intelligent document processing offer distinct advantages when it comes to managing large volumes of digital records.

➡ Document management systems are supercharged file cabinets. They’re best suited for structured formats such as spreadsheets or relational databases where all data fields are predefined. 

➡ Intelligent document processing is like a virtual assistant specializing in advanced document processing. It offers greater flexibility when dealing with unstructured inputs such as contracts or legal agreements. Natural language processing algorithms automate indexing and analysis. 

Ultimately, the choice between DMS and IDP should be based on an organization’s specific needs in terms of automation levels, how they interact with unstructured datasets and the type of insights needed from analyzing those documents.

By 2025, the IDC projects the global data sphere to explode by another 118%, only adding to the number of documents your organization will need a hand in managing. That’s over 175 zettabytes of account numbers, contract clauses, and employee names—a far cry from Albert Lacroix’s enthusiastic reply to Hugo’s anxious inquiry— “!

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