Enterprise Content Management: What Is It?
ECM is the strategies, methods, and tools used to allow organizations to capture, manage, organize, preserve, store, and deliver vital information to the right people at the right time through the right channels.
Enterprise content management definition was first introduced back in early 2000 by AIIM.
The main purpose is to address the challenges faced due to the rise of different types of data, the surging volume of information within organizations, and the preservation of all organizations’ data in all forms.
This definition has evolved over time to meet the demands of information management.
ECM is an umbrella term that covers document, records, and workflow management, collaboration, web content management, DAM, imaging, and archiving.
The right system encompasses all the needed capabilities allowing organizations to digitally manage their information in a centralized repository. It will support their processes and business goals by ensuring that information is easily accessible and useful throughout their lifecycle.
Adopting enterprise content management software should be coupled with well-defined organization-wide information management strategies to effectively improve operational efficiencies, reduce cost, and adhere to different regulatory requirements.
Back in 2017, Gartner announced that the terminology should be replaced by Content Services, a strategic concept that covers three aspects, namely CS applications, Platforms, and Components. However, ECM will continue to be the core of information management.
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Enterprise Content Management Elements
AIIM also defines the 5 elements of ECM as follows:
Capture: The strategies and tools to import documents (paper or electronic) into the digital repository for storage, reuse, and distribution.
Managing information begins with the process of importing them into a secure digital repository to fuel applications and processes using a variety of methods.
- Automated, high volume scanning (Multi-function device, Mobile cameras) and automatic extraction of metadata from scanned documents.
- Document Imaging (Tiff, JPEG, PDF, GIF).
- E-forms / Web forms.
- Forms Processing: Capture of paper forms through scanning or using electronic forms.
- Recognition using world-class OCR.
- Typed, Handwriting Recognition.
- Indexing & Classification.
- Bar Code.
- Integration with MS Office, Email (including attachments), and Office365.
- Integration with well-known line-of-business applications used within your organization.
Manage: The tools and techniques for moving information across an organization.
Connects and makes use of information through methods used separately or in combination.
Store: Where do you put your information and how would you find it again?
The temporary storage of frequently changing information within a dynamic hierarchy structure. Users will be able to view or edit any document and view document metadata.
Preserve: The methods for long term archival & storage of the needed data.
Storage and backup of unchanging data for the long term typically achieved using records administration functionalities. This will help organizations to comply with governmental & industrial regulations.
Deliver: How to deliver information for the right people at the right time through the proper channel?
For more information, check out this publication by AIIM.
Enterprise Content Management Benefits
The benefits of enterprise content management extend well beyond merely keeping track of where records are stored. Let’s see how ECM benefits your business:
Productivity is directly related to the effectiveness of an organization’s internal processes. Document-centric processes can be found in all departments (Human Resources, Accounting) across your organization.
According to Gartner, professionals spend 50% of their time searching for information. Employees need on average 18 minutes to locate each document. Imagine how much time is being wasted on the organization level just searching for information.
Reduce Storage and Operational Costs
For an average business, document volume doubles every 3 years, which equates to an annual paper increase of 22%. By going digital, organizations will be able to reduce the number of papers and physical storage space. Filing, mailing, and storage costs will all be minimized as a result.
With the security capabilities available, organizations will be able to minimize data breaches and lower the possibilities of information falling in the wrong hands by controlling document access and authority.
Compliance requirements for certain types of documents are mandatory. Failing to adhere to different regulatory regulations can cost your organization huge fines and in some cases legal actions.
A successful approach would help the company avoid non-compliance with various regulatory standards such as HIPPA and GDPR.
Automate Document-Driven Process
Automating repetitive tasks (photocopying, delivery of paper documents) will allow employees to focus on high-value and more important tasks. Using BPM capabilities, organizations can automate document-driven workflows which will increase workplace efficiency.
Better Decision Making
When we make use of the organization’s information and having it available at the right time to the right audience, better and faster decisions can be taken which will increase the ability to efficiently take advantage of important opportunities.
The benefits of having enterprise content management in a company are endless. Using the proper solution can help your organization achieve the above-stated benefits and even more!
Check this article to get full overview about the complete benefits.
Enterprise Content Management Features
Below is the list of the top features
his will help organizations to manage the complete content life cycle, from capture to preservation.
Check-in/out: The ability to lock a document when being edited. In addition to allowing the creation of new versions, and keep the history of what was changed and by whom.
Security & Access Control: Role-based security and other security features like access control, audit trails, integration with active directory, file & data encryption, backup, document watermarking, digital right management.
Search & retrieval: Easily locate documents based on metadata or FTS. Additionally, the solution should provide an advanced search mechanism.
Version control: Automatic version management, ability to see the list of versions, and rollback. The solution will make sure that employees are working on the latest version.
Indexing & Classification: Document indexing is the process of associating the information with tags allowing for easier retrieval.
Document classification is the act of labeling documents into categories according to their content (drawings, financial reports, contracts, or agreements).
Audit Trails: Complete history or log of any activity being performed on a document such as creation, modification, deletion, and so forth.
Multiple Capture Methods: Scanning (Multi-function device, Mobile cameras), Document Imaging (Tiff, JPEG, PDF, GIF), Forms Processing, Recognition using world-class OCR, Bar code.
Administration: Ability to manage all your enterprise content, security, document types, metadata, and search using one portal.
Business Process Management
The business process management module will give your organization the ability to start automating vital processes
with an ultimate goal of improving accountability, productivity, and efficiency.
The solution should provide the ability to automate business processes using low code business process automation capabilities.
- Visual Workflow Designer: The ability to model your organizations’ internal processes without the need to be an IT expert (low code).
- Visual Form Designer: Business experts can design their forms to collect information and drive a specific process without the need for any programming skills.
- Responsive Design: Forms should auto-align based on the running environment like desktop internet browser, mobile & tablet browsers.
- Administration: Powerful administration to monitor processes, restart, and publishing workflows.
- Business rule engine
Improved & Secure Collaboration
Sharing documents internally (between departments) or externally (clients, subcontractors, suppliers) is a common day-to-day task in any organization.
In fact, most companies are still relying on email and cloud solutions to improve collaboration between employees.
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 a very essential component as it allows users to work on the same document in one controlled environment. Making sure that employees are working on the latest version of the document.
Records Management Capabilities
The system should support both retention and disposition of information, allowing organizations to define, manage and execute records and retention policies for all enterprise content from a single application.
Records Management and retention policies help control the creation, declaration, classification, retention, and destruction of content and business records. As a result, organization will benefit from improved compliance, minimized litigation risks, and lower storage costs.
Integration with Existing IT Systems
Think about how many applications you use in your day-to-day work-related activities, be it MS Office including office365, outlook, HR, CRM, ERP, etc. The solution should be able to integrate with most of these line of business solutions to facilitate the reachability of information.
Enterprise Content Management Vendors
Adopting such a system allows your organization to manage the complete life cycle of your information, automating business processes, and make more informed business decisions. You can download my free eBook “Top 10 Guidelines For Choosing an enterprise content management system” to help you choose the right solution for your organization.
In addition, if your organization don’t need all the modules, you can choose separate stand-alone application for each content administration tool needed.
What Is The Best Content Management System?
Choosing an ECM software can be an overwhelming task as nowadays the market has a big list of providers promising to be your digital transformation companion.
Unfortunately, there is no “best enterprise content management software”, it really depends on your organization’s needs, industry, and financial budget.
Make sure to master this process by checking out How to choose an enterprise content management system- Part 1 article.
The Future Of Enterprise Content Management
As technology evolves, new sources of data are being introduced. With the Internet of Things (IoT), data can be collected from almost any piece of hardware connected to the internet. This will force strategies and tools to evolve and address the new challenges organizations are facing with managing their information.
The system will need to leverage new technological advancements to address new demands. To name a few:
- Automation and machine learning will provide new methods to capture (document metadata extraction), automatic document classification, and index information.
- Blockchain technology can help in smart contracts, advanced security, and automated payment processes.
- IoT is going to be part of every business aspect. Vendors should have IoT integration to add greater value to organizations.
What is Enterprise Content Management?
The combination of strategies, methods, and tools used to allow organizations to capture, manage, organize, preserve, store, and deliver vital information to the right people at the right time through the right channels.
Why It is important to an organization?
It will help organizations improve productivity, reduce storage and operational costs, minimize risks, improve regulatory compliance, automate business processes, improve & secure collaboration, and make faster decisions.
What is an enterprise content management system?
A platform that allows organizations to manage their information, automate business processes, and deliver information to the right audience at the right time.
What are the elements of ECM?
The 5 elements are: Capture, Manage, Store, Preserve, and Deliver