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The components of enterprise content management

ECM is not one single technology, but rather a collection of critical features and capabilities that work together to drive secure, compliant information and document management processes.

An enterprise content management system consists of several components that handle the different stages of information management in a typical organization.

The essential components of an ECM system are:

  • Capture: Importing, digitizing and extracting key data points from any source, including PDFs, email, fax, scans, native applications, and more.
  • Manage: Organizing, indexing and annotating documents to ensure they support business processes.
  • Process: Automatically routing and approving documents within the scope of a defined digital workflow to support critical business processes and compliance initiatives.
  • Collaborate: Editing in native applications in carefully version-controlled environments to maintain focus on the master version.
  • Archive: Secure, compliant archiving with retention policy options to either protect or control the destruction of certain types of information.
  • Integrate: Connect data and documents to other corporate applications through native connectors or APIs.

Non-essential components might include web content management or physical records management. However, these are not offered by all vendors as they are not the core use-case of ECM.

Depending on the provider, ECM systems are provided as various individual program modules and components combined into a suite, or as one holistic system.

Components of ECM system: Capture, Manage, Process, Collaborate, Archive, Integrate
The essential components of an ECM system include: Capture, Manage, Process, Collaborate, Archive, Integrate.

Modern systems versus legacy systems

As enterprise content management is a very mature technology, many providers still sell ECM systems that have dated architecture and limited capabilities. Customers should carefully seek out systems that meet the demands of today’s office environment.

Modern ECM systems must:

Meet the “consumer” test

… as easy to learn and use as the technologies in our everyday lives

Have a robust cloud strategy

… even if the customer is not ready to move to the cloud

Help with compliance

… including country-specific privacy and regulatory requirements

Go beyond capture

… and ingest information of all sorts from any source and turn it into actionable data to drive processes

Expand quickly

… and reduce professional services requirements in order to scale at the speed of modern business

Integrate right there

… to do away with the “two screen” phenomenon, and easily integrate content into our core business applications

Secure with confidence

… where documents and critical business information must be protected against loss and malicious attacks

Next: The benefits and ROI of ECM


Learn more about enterprise content management

Analyst Report

New ROI research: for SMBs, content management returns $8.55 per dollar spent

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