Enterprise Content Management (ECM) software does nothing on its own - only once you add files, metadata, workflows, and users will it start to become useful. But even then, getting the best out of that solution requires time, effort, and skill to achieve a return on the often significant investment. 

In this blog, we highlight four key areas that can ensure your ECM system doesn't become an expensive file server but instead provides the information architecture to fuel the whole of your business.

Ensure Users Are Trained

Document management is a challenging discipline whether you are a user or a system administrator. Taxonomies and file naming strategies are not terms that the everyday office worker comes across, but they are concepts that many ECM tools require an understanding of in order to work. As a result, the role of user training in new system installation is well established.

Despite this, many organizations roll out new systems without adequately training their workforce - or in some cases without even communicating why the new system is being deployed in the first place.

Modern mobile apps do not come with user training manuals - they are intuitive and users love them because of this. However, ECM systems are complex and despite huge advances in design and user experience in recent years, they still require user training and communication both when a new system is deployed and regularly once the system is established. Failure to train users will ultimately render the new system an expensive waste of time.

Caution: Users need to be engaged throughout the process - seeing new software for the first time when being trained on it is not ideal. 

Access from Anywhere and Everywhere

Delivering an intuitive user experience is vital in the modern work environment. Ironically, for enterprise content management this often means not using the regular interface at all. The key here is to provide multiple ways for users to interact with corporate content, in whichever tool or interface they prefer. This often means allowing users to work from their email, CRM, or practice management application - with document management functionality integrated seamlessly. 

This can include document filing from email or productivity apps, workflow approvals via mobile and tablet, and AI driving ubiquitous, or touchless records management. All of these examples provide ECM system capabilities without users ever touching the ECM interface - a painless and natural extension to their existing toolset.

Download this checklist to find out how to choose an ECM system.

Integrate to Other Systems

The integration of information across multiple systems for business users is essential for an effective business. For the longest time, this was an area that ECM systems struggled with - but modern federation capabilities that allow users to access information and data from multiple systems across the business from one place have changed that. 

Federation creates a virtual repository, removing the need for users to have various systems open simultaneously, eliminating errors introduced by copy and pasting between those systems, and reducing the need for user training in multiple systems.

These capabilities now allow ECM to play a critical role in corporate data exchange, acting as an information broker, integrating content from multiple systems, and sharing across the end-users' preferred tools and interfaces.

The integration of multiple business systems are integrated requires cooperation from business users, system owners, and IT - but the benefits of getting this right are far-reaching.

Stay Relevant

The most recent version of a software application provides not only new features but also incorporates bug fixes and plugs security holes. In the modern business environment that craves agility and security staying on the most recent version of software systems is essential.

Organizations with cloud-based ECM solutions are used to getting new versions of their applications regularly - keeping them up to date with the latest functions and features without them having to do anything. Indeed the continuous innovation/continuous delivery model of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions is a major selling point.

This is not the case for on-premise customers, where updates are a more manual and prescriptive process. Many IT professionals will have been through the pain of long and painful system upgrade projects - which are complex, time-consuming, and risky - despite the pain of on-premises upgrades, the importance of remaining on the current version of the software is no less vital. 

Caution: for some organizations, the complexity and cost of upgrading software systems force them to remain on old versions of the software. This creates a legacy loop where they fall further behind the current version, and at the same time, it becomes even harder to break the cycle. 

Final Thoughts

Corporate information is widely recognized as one of the more important assets that an organization has in modern business. But too often the way in which organizations manage their information assets is haphazard at best. Deploying an ECM solution is a start, but the four steps above can help your business achieve ongoing success with your information management. Ensuring good user adoption, providing integrated, easy to use access to information, and remaining on the latest version of the solution are not just ways to ensure good document management - but can provide a foundation and platform for future information exploitation and overall business success.

For more on Enterprise Content Management, download our ebook, "The Essential Guide to ECM".