Document archiving: security and safety standards 2022
An enterprise content management (ECM) system can significantly improve business efficiency, reduce costs and increase employee and customer satisfaction. ECM software brings measurable value to almost any department within a company: accounting, human resources, sales, legal and more can all benefit.
If you're not yet making use of these rapidly growing technology tools in your business, now is the time to consider them. Learn more about enterprise content management solutions below.
Modern technology terminology can be confusing, and “enterprise content management” remains an unfamiliar term for some. Let’s define it.
Enterprise content management is an umbrella term for processes and technologies that support businesses in capturing, storing, delivering, and using essential information. Such information can be customer demographics, order histories, patient medical records or even drawings. The people receiving the data can range from employees and internal stakeholders to customers and business partners.
Simply put, enterprise content management (ECM) digitises, controls and automates the flow of unstructured information within a company, which is the messy information that exists outside structured database environments. For example:
Corporate financial records inside an ERP or finance application (like Sage or QuickBooks)
Incoming invoices, packing slips or proof of deliveries
Employee data inside a human resources planning application (like Oracle PeopleSoft or Workday)
Resumes, tax documents and certifications
Customer data inside a CRM (like Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics)
Emails, photographs or meeting notes
Typically, ECM systems handle the capture, reading and indexing of information; provide opportunities to annotate, edit or improve the information; and offer robust workflow and automation tools to ensure that information gets to the right people at the right time.
Documents are available from anywhere, and security and compliance are safeguarded. Even mobile users have access to all necessary data, allowing multiple employees to access the same document in parallel. In addition, with robust audit logging and analytics capabilities, organisations have a record of who accessed, changed or removed documents and when.
These document management capabilities are enhanced by digital workflow automation. Digital workflow enables an organisation to establish predictable, repeatable, measurable processes that remove the need for manual data entry and eliminate the possibility of losing information.
The term “document management system” (DMS) is often used interchangeably with “enterprise content management,” but this usage is misleading.
The easiest way to think about document management is as a subset of the broader ECM capability set. Document management covers many of the core features such as capturing, indexing, archiving, automating and controlling information, but typically only with respect to the information found in documents.
A complete ECM system might manage information from web content, social media accounts, and other highly dynamic and scalable information sources that are outside the boundaries of a document. For larger organisations, this can be immensely valuable. For many smaller organisations, document management may suffice.
It is important to note that “Enterprise Content Management” is not only valuable for large companies. The value of ECM can be realised in organisations of any size, despite the leading word.
Enterprise content management sounds like a complex process — and it certainly can be. But once you understand some of the terms and processes involved in ECM, it makes it less of an alien technical process and more of a business process that's somewhat familiar. Check out some of the glossary terms below to get more acquainted with ECM systems.
The right enterprise content management software offers benefits that range from efficiency and organisation to improved customer satisfaction and compliance. Some of the benefits you can expect to see from a well-implemented ECM solution include:
One of the most important best practices for enterprise content management is taking the time to properly implement your solution. The following 10 steps help ensure organisations choose the right ECM, communicate the change to employees and other stakeholders and actually address business needs with the software.
Leverage free demos and product trials to learn more about the contenders. Use the data you've collected to make a checklist defining your needs and must-haves. Assign members of the project team to evaluate solutions on the market and present those that best meet your needs.
Decide whether you want to implement a cloud or on-premises solution. Your decision will be based on many factors including your organisation’s IT infrastructure, the potential cost of upgrading your hardware, and the bandwidth and expertise of your IT team.
Approach your top choices and ask for pricing information and anything else you need to make a final decision. Making the right choice should become much clearer.
Bring your analysis to critical stakeholders, such as an executive board. The goal of this step is to demonstrate the need for the ECM system with actual projections and numbers, illustrating potential ROI, as well as to confirm the suitability of your chosen solution.
Once your solution is given the go ahead, you can begin to draft and deliver communication about the upcoming change to others. The goal isn't to overwhelm people with details about a change that hasn't yet arrived but to prepare them with logical reasons that the change is necessary. Proactively communicating about any type of tech implementation helps generate future buy-in at every level, which is important to success.
Start by pulling together a team of stakeholders and subject matter experts who can help you implement an enterprise content management solution. Some people you choose for the team might include:
Once you choose a vendor, take advantage of the expertise they’ve gained by working on many other implementations. The best solution providers are knowledgeable, highly responsive and provide ongoing support.
Work together as a team to produce two deliverables in the early stage of the project:
Taking time to understand your business processes and planning ahead helps you create an implementation process that supports minimal business interruption.
Spend time determining what changes need to be made to get from the current state to the future state. Create a list of those changes ranked by priority. Then you can develop a step-by-step roadmap for your project.
While the technical work is being done to integrate the ECM system into your operation, ensure someone is creating policies and procedures for the use of the software. Documents you may want to create include:
Armed with this documentation in hand, begin training your administrators and power users. These users can put the system through all its paces during testing time. During that time, glitches and concerns can be addressed quickly and without upsetting overall productivity.
If you're implementing ECM software one department at a time, you might have a small team of testers from the department you're currently implementing in. If you plan to implement the solution across the enterprise, recruit testers from every functional unit you can. They'll all be concerned about different aspects of the system. It's tempting to choose the best and brightest to test your system. And while your top employees may certainly be likely to spot important issues and communicate them to the team, it's also a good idea to include other employees to ensure the system works well for everyone.
Once any issues identified by software testers have been corrected, begin rolling the ECM system out across the department or company. Make sure to include plenty of time for training to ensure the highest levels of buy-in.
An enterprise content management system is software designed to help organisations manage documents, data and content. In some cases, an ECM system may comprise multiple applications, software solutions and integrations.
When properly implemented, an enterprise content management system works like the brain of an organisation. It preserves and stores data similarly to how the brain stores memories for a person. ECM systems ensure employees, clients and others can retrieve information via the system and use it for the purpose of business tasks, analytics or decision-making.
The role of enterprise content management is to ensure documents and data exist in a single system, reducing the time it takes to gather information necessary for critical business tasks.
All ECM systems include at least five components:
The ability to:
Whether deployed within a single business process, a single department, or across an entire organisation, the return on investment (ROI) of ECM can be very high.
Findings from IDC's Content Workflow Automation Survey revealed that companies that took steps to digitalise, automate, and enhance their document workflows achieved the following outcomes:
The top enterprise content management providers are ranked on a range of factors, including customer satisfaction, user experience, features and capabilities, and more.
Not all enterprise content management software is equal.
Some providers focus on the enterprise market: thousands of users with complex installations that take many months to deploy because of the necessary professional services. Other providers specialise in the SME market with as few as five to ten users.
Also, not every ECM system is available as cloud software. If cloud software is important to your IT ecosystem, take care when researching providers.
Features and capabilities are important. Most enterprise content management providers provide a similar stack of core features with varying strengths and weaknesses. For example, some providers use next-generation machine learning, whereas others specialise in sophisticated workflow modelling.
While analyst reports are important points of research, they are written only by a few industry experts based on established ranking criteria and updated only once per year.
Equally important are reviews from actual users of the software. This provides a real-world set of pros and cons that should be taken seriously in identifying the best enterprise content management software. Here are four key sources of user reviews.
User reviews are based on a five-star system with prompting questions such as “If you could start over, what would your organisation do differently?” for additional insight. Visit Capterra.
User reviews are based on a five-star system with industry information. Peer Insights is owned by Gartner. Visit Peer Insights.
User reviews are based on a five-star system with clear pros and cons to help you evaluate the strengths of different ECM systems. Visit Software Advice.Reviews of DocuWare at Software Advice
Enterprise content management software is an important tool for all types of businesses. It can help you achieve benefits that improve your bottom line, enhance sales, increase efficiencies and even boost employee morale. But getting to those benefits requires a strong ECM implementation.
Find out more about ECM solutions and how DocuWare can help you implement one. Contact us today.