In today’s hectic business environment, most companies find themselves generating anything from generous (at best) to serious (at worst) amounts of data during the course of a single business day. This happens every business day, and the sheer amount of data threatens to create bottlenecks (at best) in the business, or overwhelm (at worst) a business so that it loses control of its internal systems. So can a business function without enterprise content management, and if not, what does it need to do?
In the short term, any business can appear to be functioning without enterprise content management. Within a project or a project team, the scale of activity can be kept under control for a time and business results can seem unaffected. But as soon as the scope of your business activities runs across more than a single team in parallel, and / or multiple projects one after the other in a series, obvious vulnerabilities will begin to show.
Take the relatively simple issue of how to manage all that paperwork generated by a project team while working on a single project. From the resumes acquired during the hiring process; the minutes of team meetings (draft and then later ratified); the piles of receipts generated from the simple logistics of getting people and information moved around; the clusters of project authorization requests and work orders; the invoices generated in the course of doing business; – everything about your volume of paperwork requires an increasing number of person hours just to stay on top of the project.
At what point do you or your team recognize that you have a paper problem? When the ‘In’ tray is full to bursting point? When the pleasant ambiance of the office is broken by clusters of archive boxes bursting with paperwork? Or when you have entire rooms dominated by rows of filing cabinets storing information that you do not actually need to access on a day to day basis, but that you cannot actually throw away?
If it is hard to find just one piece of paper in among all those archives, your company is losing time and money to inefficiency. If processing each piece of paper is taking up a lot of human resources and is too slow, this is eating into your competitiveness. If paperwork cross-references other paperwork that is not co-located or easily linked up with it, then you run the risk of operating in a state of incomplete information. It exists, but you just cannot find it. Worse still, if such inefficiencies result in somebody needlessly duplicating the work of others in your organization, then you are breeding wastefulness.
You are never going to completely do away with the need for paper throughout your business activities. You will always have paper and it will always play an important part in the life of your business. But isn’t there something that you could be doing right away to eliminate waste, increase efficiency and avoid bogging your workforce down in unproductive, low-vale tasks?
Just by taking one decisive course of action at one point in your business activities, you could achieve massive results. Imagine a paperless customer ordering system, eliminating the need for printers and ink for that stage of your business, and removing the need to print out thousands of pieces of paper each month.
Imagine giving each and every employee equal electronic access to any document within the business. It would no longer be the case that employees would need to be employed just to procure and serve the paperwork required by others. Neither would other employees need to waste precious time waiting for the paperwork to be served to them. They wouldn’t have to physically go and look for it themselves, either. They could just access the relevant information in a seamless, connected 360-degree facing system. Minimal delays, maximum efficiency.
Literally, physical documents are all over the place and even electronic documents can be anywhere from this server, or that memory stick, or that laptop sitting at home today, or in a colleague’s email inbox. If even a moderately well-paid employee in your organization spends any measurable amount of time looking for a document, then your business processes become increasingly expensive. Paper files can go missing, and similarly emails, spreadsheets, and text files not kept in any kind of orderly, centralized enterprise content management system.
Just one central document management system would enable everyone to find what they need and remove the severe bottlenecks that occur in any business. By almost eliminating the need for anyone to spend time searching for documents, your employees are instantly freed up to focus on just getting their jobs done. Managing the complete life-cycle of all documents, from their creation through to their destruction, is one of the most powerful efficiency bonuses that you can bring to your business.
You’d obviously take care to back up your central system, so that locating all of your company’s assets in one place did not become a weakness. You might also investigate your requirements for some kind of document version control system, and effective training for all staff on how to use the new enterprise content management system.
So by now the case is clear and obvious – your business needs enterprise content management in order to function smoothly, efficiently and productively – just taking into consideration the volume of paperwork that you are required to handle shows up an already pressing need.