Choosing an enterprise content management (ECM) solution is a big step toward improving productivity and collaboration. But to see the most value possible from your ECM and achieve success, you must carefully identify and address your digital document management challenges and goals.
If you read our recent blog post on ECM implementations, you know about assessing which areas of your business take priority in your ECM initiative. Now, you need to define your current needs and challenges for those specific processes and set concrete, measurable goals for each one.
Let’s say you’ve decided that your accounting department is your top priority. It’s time to dig deeper.
- Identify Challenges
On the accounts payable (AP) side, for example, your challenges might include a cumbersome paper-based process for collecting sign-offs from different department heads. That inefficient process makes it difficult to pay invoices on time, which causes all types of issues such as missed early payment discounts and strained vendor relationships.
On the accounts receivable (AR) side, challenges may include the fact that when employees call customers to enforce payment on open invoices, they don’t have easy access to all of the relevant documents, which slows down the collection process.
Based on these challenges, the next step is to define what you need to streamline these processes and set concrete goals. Companies run into trouble when they have goals, but the goals aren’t specific and measurable. It’s not enough to say, “Our goal is to improve efficiency.” Your goals must be specific, measurable items.
- Set Goals
For example, let’s say that 40 percent of your AR collection calls currently cannot be completed with your existing system, as the necessary documents are not available at your fingertips when a customer questions the validity of an invoice. That increases the average collection time across all accounts receivable to, let’s say, 45 days.
Using an ECM system, your goal might be to reduce that 40 percent incomplete rate to 10 percent, and thus reduce the average collection time to 30 days. That’s a clear, measurable goal for a specific process.
Accounting is just one example of how to identify needs and set goals for ECM. The sales department is another area where ECM offers benefits, especially in the proposal creation process.
• Drill down to define your current challenges and needs.
• Clarify your goals.
• Decide where to start.
• Choose goals that cannot be measured.
• Forget to define clear measuring metrics beforehand.
- Leverage Benefits
An ECM solution allows your sales team to create better proposals and get them out the door quickly. By using ECM to automate the approval process and provide sales reps with instant access to price lists and other key information, the sales department’s productivity goes up across the board. You’re able to push out more proposals, and the more you have out, the more you’re going to sell.
A key metric for this benefit could be the number of proposals currently generated and submitted measured against an expected, increased number once an ECM system has been installed. By applying an average closing rate of submitted proposals and an average gross margin, you can even calculate the anticipated bottom- and top-line contribution of the document management investment.
Again, the key is to define the goals with specific metrics. When companies don’t have clear goals at the beginning, there’s no way to manage expectations and evaluate your success in adopting an ECM solution. In any company, you’ll always have people who are resistant to new technologies and ways of working. Without metrics in place, those people are likely to see the project as a failure, while others see it as a success. Metrics help you replace these opinions and impressions with observable facts.
By strategically identifying challenges, setting goals and leveraging benefits, you get more value from your ECM solution. Save yourself stress: Don’t implement without first knowing where you need to be and how you’re going to get there.
Ready to learn more about successfully implementing an ECM solution at your organization? Read our free e-book, An ECM Insider’s Guide: The 7 Factors For Success.