Enterprise Content Management – What Is It?
You're always looking for ways to improve your business. These days, you have plenty of resources available to help you do just that. Have you considered enterprise content management as one of those resources?
Enterprise content management (ECM) is a software tool that helps businesses stay efficient, organized, and productive. ECM provides a simple document storage platform for those who are ready to trade in their analog systems for something better.
ECM is more than just a software solution, though; it's an entire tactical business strategy. You can start your ECM process by gathering your information and documents. Then, you can upload those documents to your digital content management system. Once you've uploaded your documents, you can do virtually anything with them. You can set up specific workflows, for instance, and because each team member has access to the same platform, you can make sure that everyone stays on the same page. You can send documents out for digital signatures, which means you won't need a fax machine or physical delivery system.
Those are just a couple of the benefits that companies experience when they switch to ECM. Another benefit is overall improved efficiency, which can help expedite key decisions in the company. ECM also reduces clutter because it virtually eliminates the need for physical documents.
You can use enterprise content management across several areas in your organization. Below are some options you might use to turn your ECM into a winning business strategy.
Enterprise Content Management Data Structures
Your first strategy option? Deciding how you want to structure your data within your ECM platform. With most platforms, you can choose from one of three options: structured, unstructured, and semi-structured.
There's no right or wrong answer, and each choice comes with a set of pros and cons. It's important to understand the different categories so you can figure out which choice will work best for your organization.
On one end of the spectrum, highly structured solutions can include automated capture processes, designated workflows, and other pre-configured solutions. These solutions can provide an excellent ROI because they let you get work done faster. Your employees may deal with a lot of repetitive tasks throughout the week. Why not automate those tasks? This way, you can shift your company's focus to more growth-oriented tasks.
On the other end of the spectrum, you have platforms with little to no automation. With completely unstructured content, you'll need more human intervention. That doesn't mean that you still can't get a great ROI from this option. For smaller companies and those who just need a simple solution, unstructured content can provide a seamless fit.
Enterprise content management solutions can have hundreds of features and modules that contribute to the structure of their content. Examples include OCR, OCR Zone, OMR, barcode reading capabilities, and database search functions. All of these tools can help with the content capture automation process.
Whatever content solutions you choose for your data structures, making ECM a part of your business strategy can bring you excellent results. An overall enterprise content management solution can help companies manage, control, share, and dispose of digital content. What you do with your data is up to you, but with ECM, you can do everything you need to do with ease.
Content Management and Transactional Content
Enterprise content management can help in the area of transactional content as well. What is transactional content? When a key business process needs a decision or an end result, any information involved in the process is transactional content.
When you have information that you need to finalize, you want to finish the process as soon as possible. The more people count on your business, the more crucial the transaction becomes. You can't afford to put up with delays.
ECM helps by improving workflow solutions. For example, let's say that an invoice or a purchase order requisition needs approval. You can get that approval quickly thanks to digital signatures. More importantly, your ECM solution can let multiple people log on to the platform from different devices and locations. All of the involved parties can work on the same document at the same time, instead of reviewing multiple versions of the same document.
You'll eliminate confusion, get approval faster, and stop playing the waiting game.
Document Creation and Collaboration
Speaking of creating a centralized workflow, enterprise content management solutions can be used for both document collaboration and document creation. For example, your company may need to update its employee handbook. Those updates might include multiple revisions and edits, and if that handbook covers multiple departments, you'll likely have multiple people across several departments working on those revisions. The revisions will then need approval from multiple people before your handbook is ready to publish.
Under an analog system, a multi-person project like this is a recipe for chaos. You either have a single document that changes hands multiple times or several versions of a document that must come together. The first option causes delays. The second option causes confusion. ECM provides a better way.
Because multiple people can view the same document from different devices, they can complete the document without delay or confusion. Plus, ECM often has several software features that you can use to smooth the process. For instance, you might use access control and a check-in system to edit and publish your content.
How to Choose the Right ECM Solution
Enterprise content management can transform your business, but you'll want to make sure that you choose the right platform for your needs. There are a number of ECM software solutions on the market today, from systems designed to archive medium-size office documents to full-scale enterprise solutions that manage all types of content.
In any case, scalability matters. You'll need plenty of flexibility and a platform that can always meet your needs, no matter how those needs grow or shrink.
So, what's the best way to get started? Contact us here at Vasion. We can answer your ECM questions and help you find the solution that fits your business.