In this article, we will briefly cover enterprise content management definition and why enterprise content management is important to an organization.
Enterprise Content Management Definition
Enterprise content management (ECM) is the combination of strategies, methods, and tools used to allow organizations to capture, manage, organize, preserve, store, and deliver information to the right people at the right time through the right channels.
ECM enables organizations to go beyond traditional document management by providing an integrated enterprise solution for managing the complete life cycle of information, automating content-centric business processes and enabling records management.
ECM is an umbrella term that covers document management, records management, collaboration, workflow management or business process management, web content management, digital asset management, imaging, and archiving.
For a detailed explanation, check out the complete guide of What is ECM?
Many current enterprise content management systems evolved from document management systems allowing users to digitize, manage, locate, and circulate their documents in no time and with the addition of powerful modules to their solutions i.e. BPM & BI, they evolved to allow organizations to get ahead of their digital transformation by managing their content, automating their processes, and enabling fast decision making.
The benefits of an enterprise content management system include the ability to easily locate documents within a searchable centralized digital repository, automate key business processes, and address compliance requirements with robust security controls.
Benefits Of Having An Enterprise Content Management In A Company
According to Gartner Research, professionals spend 50% of their time searching for information, and take on an average, 18 minutes to locate each document.
According to IDC, Information workers waste a significant amount of time dealing with a variety of challenges related to working with documents. This wasted time amounts to a loss of 21.3% in the organization’s total productivity.
According to AIIM, companies may achieve an increase of 18% in productivity from utilizing a content services platform.
Managing documents should be extremely easy and locating them should be only few seconds away thus allowing information workers to focus on more productive tasks.
Among the full list of enterprise content management features is to provide advanced security capabilities enabling organizations to minimize data breach and decrease the risk of information falling in the wrong hands by controlling document access and authority.
Compliance requirements for certain types of documents is mandatory and failing to adhere to different regulatory regulations can cost your organization huge fines and in some cases legal actions. A good ECM system will help your organization reduce the risk of non-compliance to different regulatory requirements such as HIPPA, GDPR.
Major enterprise content management vendors give the possibility to encrypt data and files stored in the central repository thus content can only be viewed from within their solution.
Reduce Storage and Operational Costs
Achieving a 100 % paper-free office is extremely challenging if not impossible however switching from paper documents to digital creates a paper-lite environment.
For an average business, document volume doubles every 3 years, which equates to an annual paper increase of 22%.
One of the most important benefit is to allow organizations to reduce the amount of paper and physical storage space required which dramatically reduces filing time and associated costs (shipping, storage, etc.).
Document Management & Version Control
One of the most critical capability in the list of enterprise content management features is version control. Without document management capabilities to control organization’s documents lifecycle, employees can easily lose a document, work on an older version of the document, or can’t revert back to previous versions. A good ecm system will provide the ability to
- Create multiple versions of a document.
- Lock the document when being editing to prevent overriding changes.
- Keep history of what was changed and by whom.
- Make sure that employees are always working on the latest version.
- Ability to rollback to previous versions in case needed.
- Support the concept of minor and major document versioning.
Improved Regulatory Compliance
An ECM system should support both retention and disposition of information, allowing organizations to define, manage, and execute records and retention policies for all enterprise content. Records Management and retention policies helps control the creation, declaration, classification, retention, and destruction of content and business records, resulting in improved compliance, minimized litigation risk, and lower storage costs.
Automating Business Processes
Using the BPM module available in an ECM system, you can streamline many business processes in different departments such as engineering, accounting, sales and HR. Depending on the department, optimizing these workflows could lead to a big cost reduction by eliminating unnecessary steps, increase employee retention, and achieve faster day to day operations.
The trend now is No Code/Low code process automation, which basically allows business users to take ownership of their processes. Non IT employees, using the tools provided in the ecm system, can start automating their workflows and creating their forms without any IT interference.
The automation of processes within the system can reduce cycle times and improve employees productivity which will have significant financial impact, a typical example was observed in one of our clients implementation where fines due to delay in official paperwork was reduced from couple of millions to almost negligible.
Improved & Secure Collaboration
Sharing documents internally or externally is a common day to day task in any organization. The majority of companies are still relying on email or cloud solutions (i.e. EFSS) for completing this process however, this poses a lot of concerns including the possibility of losing track of what was shared, commented, and the correct document version to review in addition to the security risk of having the document sent to unauthorized persons.
The collaboration module is very essential component provided by an ecm software as it allows users to work on the same document in one controlled environment and guaranteeing that employees are working on the latest version of the document.
Some enterprise content management vendors address perfectly simple collaboration (share documents for read only or edit), commenting and in addition other vendors have advanced collaboration capabilities allowing real time parallel collaboration , redlining, content redaction, and markups.
Integration with 3rd Party Applications
Today employees use a variety of business applications during their day to day activities and ECM system provides integration with most common line of business applications to move content around. Major integrations available are with MS Office, Office365, SAP, Salesforce, EFSS tools, etc.
When you are evaluating a vendor, be prepared by having a list of your most used critical applications and make sure that the integration with these applications are available in the list of enterprise content management features.
Artificial Intelligence Adoption
Artificial intelligence is improving our daily quality of life and can play a big role in information management which will result in improved productivity, improved efficiency, and reduce cost. Having advanced cognitive technologies in the list of enterprise content management features will allow organizations to automate classification, automate capturing (single and in batch), extract metadata, content redaction (hide personal identification information) and a lot more.
Make Better Decisions Faster
An ECM system with an intuitive user interface, strong BPM module, and notification engine should be able to deliver the right information to the right user at the right time & the right place thus allowing organizations to stay ahead of their competitors by reacting to events faster and better.
All organizations nowadays should take care of their business’ impact on the environment and by using an ECM system, organizations will not only reduce paper usage but also reduce the resource consumption and carbon footprint of storage warehouses, office buildings, shipping, printed materials therefore helping the world to become a better place.
The benefits of having an enterprise content management in a company are endless that is why it is considered to be the core element of any digital transformation journey.