We live in the information age, and information is being created faster and in more ways than ever before. Managing information is a challenge for individuals but is essential for an enterprise. Organizations need to carefully govern information stored in emails, invoices, corporate reports, and personnel files, and this is where enterprise content management systems thrive. 

But what are the primary reasons for using an ECM solution? This blog explains everything. 

A History of Enterprise Content Management

ECM has been around since the turn of the century and is the successor to Document Management (DM). Industry association AIIM defined ECM as encompassing "...the strategies, methods, and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes." but for many people, DM and ECM systems had three primary tasks: 

  • to remove paper from processes

  • to reduce human error

  • to optimize process and employee productivity.

ECM continues to serve these three masters today and has seen significant success within many organizations globally. Return on investment varies across each deployment but typically focuses on metrics such as reduced filing cabinets (and the associated office space), increased visibility into processes, reduced time to process documents (such as invoices in an accounts payable solution, for example), and reduced time to save and find information. 

While these metrics are important, they focus on the ECM system as an individual entity, as an isolated system if you like. But modern ECM is much more than that - modern ECM provides an integrated source of information for many different business areas. 

The Essential Guide to ECM

Business Drivers for Modern ECM

Everywhere within the business, people are looking to break down barriers, encourage cross-departmental collaboration, and drive new efficiencies. Enterprise content management systems are increasingly providing an information backbone to those efforts, serving applications or use cases that sit on top of or alongside traditional document management. 

Below we look at six areas that are driving the adoption of ECM and being enabled by it simultaneously.

  • Records Management & Compliance

Each industry has its own rules and regulations regarding information governance and compliance. In banking, for example, financial statements need to be retained, unaltered, for seven years. Other industries have different specifics, but each sector expects consistent, secure, and efficient information governance - organizations cannot achieve this without ECM systems. 

  • Business Processes

One of the reasons why ECM, and its predecessor Document Management (DM), was created was to digitize manual, paper-based business processes. Information is the lifeblood of many business processes such as invoice processing, customer onboarding, and claims processing - but is also an essential feed into almost every business process in existence.

  • Federation

Modern ECM systems provide federation capabilities that allow users to access information and data from multiple systems across the business from one place. Federation essentially 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.

  • Integration 

The migration of data is a growing need within organizations. The need to move information and data between different systems occurs as legacy systems are retired, as M&A activities bring new systems into the ecosystem, and when the org decides to move to the cloud. ECM provides a controlled environment to manage migration, ongoing synchronization, indexing, and event processing. 

  • Privacy and Security

Storing information securely while ensuring only the right people within an organization can view, edit, and create content has always been a core service provided by DM and ECM systems. But regulations such as GDPR and the CCPA, which govern personal data's use and privacy, heighten the need to get this right and the cost of getting this wrong.

  • Remote Working

Digital information is an essential requirement when enterprises look to enable remote working. Working from home has been a growing priority for organizations over recent years, but in 2020 became an integral component of navigating the COVID-19 pandemic - as many skilled employees pivoted to home working almost overnight. Without well-managed information served from ECM systems, this could not have happened.

These use cases ultimately are more important to the users than the ECM system. In many of these cases, ECM is an enabler to perform the business tasks and often one that the end-user doesn’t ever see. 

ECM as IT Toolset

From an IT and systems perspective, the ECM platform is a critical tool for connecting, controlling, and streamlining how data and information flow through an organization. The days of a single system to rule them all are gone - we are now in a world where multiple best of breed systems need to work together in an organization, and ECM acts as the perfect conduit and controller to enable that connectivity. In the past, IT often saw ECM as merely a document repository. This perception is rightly being replaced with ECM now respected as a core enabling technology for the future.   

Conclusions

Despite being around for over twenty years, the management of information through ECM systems has never been more critical. As the world becomes more digitally-engaged, it also becomes more digitally-reliant, making the need to provide systems to carefully enable, control, and govern this digital world becomes equally important. 

Within organizations, modern enterprise content management systems address this requirement. With ECM acting as both the information steward and the information liberator, enterprises and end-users can concentrate on doing their jobs - safe knowing that their information is working hard for them behind the scenes.

 

The Essential Guide to ECM


To learn more about how Simflofy can help your organization make the most of your information, get in touch with us today.