The Importance of Enterprise Content Management
Enterprise content management is built on the concept of “content management,” where the many documents and content assets generated by an enterprise for use across all channels and mediums are published, collected, archived, and otherwise managed.
Enterprise content management takes this to a new level by creating uniform, systemwide processes for content development, review, and distribution, and a central “single source of truth” repository for approved content. ECM, in short, is a content management system that’s built around the operational needs, policies, and processes of the entire enterprise or business unit the content is being created to serve.
In any enterprise, it’s vital that users can access the right version of a document or record – the most recent or approved version that’s intended as gospel for all. Content that’s important to regulatory or legal compliance needs to be secured and safely stored, even if rarely accessed.
Effective ECM tools help organizations cope with the thousands or millions of documents on hand and keep everything properly organized and controlled.
The costs of a Content Explosion
There’s an astounding amount of content and information being created every day, especially in business. In a typical organization, that content may be stored in a hodge-podge of locations and media, from thumb drives to desktops to disks. Lost or mislaid documents alone cost companies a huge amount:
- A Coopers & Lybrand study once claimed there were 4 trillion paper documents in the US alone, growing 22% a year – in 2004, before the digital era really arrived.
- According to Forbes ASAP, a typical manager wastes 150 hours a year (nearly an entire month) searching for lost content or information. If they’re paid $50,000 a year, that’s $3,842 annually.
- PricewaterhouseCoopers says an average office spends $20 in labor filing each document, $120 searching for each misfiled document, loses one out of every 20 documents, and spends 25 hours recreating each lost document.
- According to Gartner, that can amount to 7-12% of a company’s revenue.
What does ECM software do?
ECM systems are the technology used to capture, manage, store, and control enterprise-wide content. Content, in turn, now consists of not just paper documents but images, emails, text messages, social media messages, video, and beyond. All of it is meant to support organizational processes during its effective lifecycle.
- ECM software manages this content, and an important function of this is assuring compliance with regulations ranging from Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPPA to the GDPR and CCPA.
- ECM is an evolution beyond document management and web content management to a more holistic level, focused on broader and more effective governance, collaboration, security and risk mitigation.
How does ECM software work?
Enterprise content management systems work by bringing information together from a wide range of different sources, and making it available to users through a single, centralised hub. The technology is designed to keep track of a mind-boggling array of different content, automating processes to make life simpler for time-pressed teams.
There are many different benefits to enterprise content management software. The software maximizes the efficiency of teams, by cutting down on the time required to manage day to day processes. This improved efficiency quickly results in cost savings, while also freeing up time for team members to pursue more complex tasks.
The risk of human error in content management processes can be quickly reduced through the use of specialised software, and this will significantly reduce potential costs for a business. By organizing content with the help of a tailored content management system, companies also limit the risks involved in the loss of lucrative content.
Features of an Effective ECM solution
The most effective enterprise content management systems are those that are fully integrated with other software platforms being used by a business, and accessible to all relevant teams. There are many different functions which enterprise content management systems can be used to fulfil. The most effective systems cover a wide range of different processes, bringing real benefits to teams across the business.
For an ECM system to be truly effective, it needs to be fully capable of saving and storing content in a secure way, which can be relied upon by all departments. The system should provide all team members with easy access to the data and information they need, whenever they need it. The system should significantly improve effectiveness across the business, helping team members to be more productive in their roles.
There should not be limits on the file types a good ECM system can handle. All the best systems will be easily capable of saving and storing any file type, and making sure that file is saved in the right place for teams to be able to access it in the future.
Why is ECM essential?
Companies usually decide they need an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution after they’ve come to the realization they’re handling too much paper, or have a lot of unstructured, uncollated content on hand that create bottlenecks and inefficiencies. Or they’ve already been stung by regulatory penalties or negative legal outcomes owing to lost or mishandled content.
With a solid ECM software solution, these adopters can enjoy:
- More efficient and cost-effective content management and control.
- Risk mitigation through improved compliance with government and industry regulation.
- More securely-managed access to content and sensitive data.
- Reduced costs by automating previously manual processes, reducing storage and postal requirements, and reducing penalties.
- Minimized reliance on IT by using a superior SaaS solution.
Key benefits of Enterprise Content Management
Here are ten ways that ECM pays off for an organization that wants to get its content under control:
Collect & control scattered content
ECM allows an enterprise to manage its unstructured information, wherever that content or data resides across the organization. So rather than having vital content in isolated silos or inaccessible locations, it can be centrally controlled and accessed.
Ensuring a Single Source of Truth
ECM can provide SSOT by structuring content and data so that each element is stored only once, usually in a centralized digital content repository, which helps avoid duplicate or de-normalized versions. This way, the entire enterprise can access a single approved and authoritative piece of content or data.
Improved access governance
With an Enterprise Content Management solution, employee access to documents can be filtered so they’re only able to access content that’s essential to their work, and can be prevented from accessing it using unsecured channels. More than just corporate policy, this is a matter of regulatory compliance in sectors like healthcare, financial services, and the legal industry.
Stand up to scrutiny
Capturing and preserving content so it’s secure and available, whether documents, messages, meeting records, etc., is critical to standing up to internal reviews, regulatory oversight, and judicial scrutiny. Losing key content, or even failing to produce it in a timely manner, can be ruinous for an organization.
Better records management
With a SaaS ECM solution, a company is able to easily pick which documents and data are securely retained, for how long, and then set up automatic deletion upon data expiry to stay in compliance.
Information Lifecycle Management
By storing content and data in regulatory compliance using an ECM solution, a company enjoys superior Information Lifecycle Management, with easily implemented audit trails, access restrictions, content retention policies, and more.
Enhanced data mining
A good ECM solution will include data search and analytics tools allowing users to search enormous amounts of content from a universe of sources. By applying multiple search ranges and parameters, they can find precise results.
Effective knowledge management
ECM lets an enterprise create, share, and better leverage the sum total knowledge and content it holds. This helps in making the most effective use of it in projects and collaborations aimed at achieving corporate objectives.
Accelerated business processes
Streamlining content management permits an enterprise to also expedite business processes linked to that content. That makes day-to-day tasks more efficient and cost-effective and improves responsiveness to customer/client needs.
Flexibility and scalability
A good SaaS ECM solution is flexible enough to work at any level, from providing simplified document routing to meeting complex Business Process Management (BPM) demands. Plus, it can scale easily to meet changes in demand.