Are you going for a CDE or a DMS?

Geschreven door:

Dani Lameris, April 13, 2023

You probably already know that your overflowing filing cabinet is not the best way to store documents. But when you look at the different ways to safely store your documents in a digital environment, the abbreviations fly around you. CDE, DMS, ERP… What are they all about, what are the differences and how do you choose what suits your organization best?

What is a document management system (DMS)?

A document management system (DMS) is a software application used to organize, manage and store documents. Here you can also perform all kinds of actions on your files, such as saving, editing and approving. In addition, you can easily share files with others within a DMS. Not only your team members, but also external parties are aware of the latest version of a construction drawing thanks to a DMS. Automatic version management is often built into a DMS, so that you can always quickly check whether you are working with the latest version.

Functions of a DMS

  • Search and find: you can quickly find all your documents thanks to keywords, tags and metadata.
  • Access control: you only give access to certain parts of the DMS to those who need to have access to that part. This way no one will see anything that is not intended for them.
  • Automatic version management: new versions of files are easily uploaded. You can still view older versions and you can easily place two versions next to each other to see the differences.
  • Security first: documents are encrypted and can be sent securely.

Not only your team members, but also external parties are aware of the latest version of a construction drawing thanks to a DMS.

What is a common data environment (CDE)?

A common data environment (CDE) is a centralized digital platform where all information related to, for example, a construction project is managed, shared and exchanged. So here you will find design drawings, contracts, specifications, and all other files you need to successfully complete your project. Thanks to a CDE, all parties involved in the project have access to the most up-to-date information.

Functions of a CDE

  • Folder structure:An A clear structure ensures that you store, manage and share your files efficiently.
  • Roles and rights: in this way external parties also have access to the files they need, but no one sees data that is not intended for them.
  • Notifications: this will keep you informed of the most important developments within your project.
  • BIM-viewer: lets you go through 3D models of buildings and see all the details.

Differences between a DMS and a CDE

The main and biggest difference between a DMS and a CDE is that a DMS is fully specialized in managing documents, while a CDE also focuses on managing all types of construction data and information required for a project.

A CDE therefore often offers slightly more functions than a DMS, such as real-time collaboration between the various project members. A DMS, on the other hand, is more focused on the full lifecycle of a document: from an expected document to the final file. To make this process as smooth as possible, a DMS often provides features such as a workflow, automatic version management and extensive logbook in which you can find out who made what adjustments and when.

As both of these features add value to the successful completion of your construction project, it is important to understand how to choose the right system for your specific needs.

The similarities between a DMS and a CDE

A document management system and a common data environment therefore both have a slightly different focus, but there are also sufficient similarities. Both systems ensure that you can easily share information with your entire team and ensure that everyone has the most up-to-date information available because all documents are stored in a central, digital environment.

Which system is best for your project?

Which system you choose depends mainly on the type of project you are running and the needs of the project members. For example, a DMS is suitable for projects where the management of individual documents is crucial, such as legal or financial documents. A CDE, on the other hand, is suitable for projects where it is important that all project members have access to the most up-to-date information, such as in the construction sector.

In practice, the terms CDE and DMS are often used interchangeably. Both systems have the same goal: to ensure that everyone always has the right information at their disposal. This is of course crucial, especially in construction, because this way you ensure that failure costs and frustrations are kept to a minimum. Therefore, when choosing a DMS or CDE, keep an eye on what the needs are for your company, colleagues and any third parties. On the basis of this you can compare different providers and choose what suits you best.