Enterprise content management (ECM) is a set of strategies, tools, and processes that enable a business to efficiently acquire, systematize, store, and convey vital information to its workforce, stakeholders and clients. Simply put, it is designed to efficiently manage a business’s document.
Free flowing information – including Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, Word documents, scanned images, etc. – are accumulated and made accessible to the designated people at the designated time. Enterprise Content Management solutions help eliminate a company’s dependence on paper documentation and organize a company’s information according to its needs, thereby empowering the business to work more proficiently.
A few of the most common and sought after benefits of employing any Enterprise Content Management Software are:
- Eliminating a business’s dependence on paper
- Streamlining business processes
- Drive improved customer service
- Increase workforce productivity
- Cut back on organizational risk
ECM software usually restructures the flow of information and computerizes procedural workflow with a document management system. It is essential for any business enterprise with large volumes of information to have a comprehensive ECM plan to reduce costs, counter operational inadequacies and follow regulatory compliance mandates.
Key Elements of Enterprise Content Management
Any Enterprise Content Management has five key elements – capture, store/manage, retrieve, automate and secure – that explain its functioning. The role of each component is linked to the other, and all five of these parts help keep the system running smoothly.
1. Capturing Information
This element involves creating information by first converting paper documentation into electronic files and then collecting those files into an organized structure. In other words, they work on importing a company’s sensitive information into a secure digital storehouse.
This organizes and restructures all the information of the business that is employing Enterprise Content Management in a safe, centralized location. This information can include contracts, correspondences, research reports, invoices from vendors, resumes from job aspirants and more.
The modes of capturing this information include:
- Using electronic tools to digitize documents right from the point of conception
- Scanning paper documents to be stored in a digital safe space
- Managing digitized content like Word document and PDFs
- Automatically adding and categorizing documents from MFPs, servers, and other shared locations
Digital storage of information eliminates many of the issues that come with paper documentation, including slow distribution, misplaced documents, document duplication, and especially the hassle of retrieving documents from offsite storerooms.
2. Manage/Store Documents
This element links and modifies the provided information through document management system, collaborative software, web content and records management. The employees get access to the documents, enabling them to view or make edits depending on their access levels. The company has an overview of the entire metadata of the documents. It also organizes the documents in a flexible folder structure.
3. Retrieve Documents
Once a business’s documents are securely stored on a digital platform, it can find any document by using the full-text search tool. It can also use specific words or phrases in metadata, text, annotations and entry titles to look for a document or opt for predetermined search options to search the names of users who viewed specific documents, documents’ creation dates and other required metadata.
ECM software helps cut down the time spent searching for information, facilitating employees to improve the overall customer service of the company. Plus, you have instant access to information that will help you form decisions aligned with your company’s bottom line.
4. Automate Processes
Automation helps businesses cut down on manual labor – including photocopying and hand delivery – to accomplish greater results with lesser resource expenditure. ECM solutions have digital automation tools that can automatically and instantly send documents to the required person, send alerts to employees when documents need revisions, and recognize faults before any irrelevant work is done.
5. Secure Documents
With the ever-increasing government sanctioned compliance restrictions in various industries, businesses are increasingly employing Enterprise Content Management systems to strengthen their record management processes and protect themselves against organizational risks.
It is essential for an ECM system to provide customizable security features to allow businesses to protect sensitive information from unapproved access or alteration. A good ECM will help you:
- Control access to documents, folders, fields, and other properties as required
- Monitor all system logins and logouts, document creation and deletion, password alterations and more
- Shield sensitive metadata through restricting information access even in individual templates, folders, and fields
Only the finest ECM software has all five of these major elements that will help your business improve work efficiency and productivity.
Importance of Enterprise Content Management
Enterprise Content Management offers a central platform where your business’s content can be stored and circulated in a way that aligns with regulatory compliance prerequisites and risk management rules. An ECM accomplishes these by getting rid of off the cuff processes that can expose a business to risks pertaining to regulatory compliance and various potential issues.
A fully functional enterprise Management System should include features like check-in/check-out, auditing ability, content categorization, and other workflow enablers and security features.
An effective Enterprise Content Management can modernize business and access processes, eliminate potential bottlenecks by reducing the amount of storage and paper requirements, increase security, maintain business integrity and minimize non-labor expenses. All of these features help increase a business’s productivity.
The foremost step is to digitally document all sorts of content that an organization handles, the business procedures it is taking part in, and the employees that handle the content. An Enterprise Content Management Software can be employed to recognize copy and near-copy content, enabling the business to keep a few duplicates of the work rather than hundreds.
Enterprise Content Management has become increasingly essential and multifaceted in recent times for various reasons. Increasing monetary fraud and data breaches and the regulations crafted to prevent them have made efficient information oversight crucial, not just for compliance factors, but also to guard an organization’s market reputation. Businesses also need Enterprise Content Management to efficiently manage their information so that they can integrate it with data management solutions like business analytics/business intelligence applications that use available information to help businesses make better decisions.
Enterprise Content Management solutions and tools are evolving with the evolving demands of organizations and businesses looking for more dexterity and high functioning integration. With new technology surfacing every day, ECM platforms are adding new and improved features such as digital asset management in a bid to stay ahead of the curve.
Brandon Harris is the vice president of Smooth Solutions founded by his father Michael Harris, who has been a pioneer in document scanning industry for over 35 years. A leading Document Scanning Services in New Jersey, they are experts in providing document services and affordable book scanning services and Convert Microfilm to Digital. They scan paper files, large format drawings, digitize books, convert microfilm to digital, etc. Prior to that, Brandon owned and operated a small bakery. Other than working to grow and improve his business, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter, and family.