Selecting and Integrating an Enterprise Content Management System
Enterprise content management (ECM) systems assist companies in reaching their business goals with greater efficiency. An ECM will record, file, store and save all unstructured information into a managed, taxonomy system. The ECM represents integrated enterprise-wide management of the life cycles of recorded data when supported by the appropriate technological and administrative infrastructure. The proper and complete planning of an enterprise content management system will allow a company to implement the variety of changes necessary in incorporating a new document management system.
Enterprise Content Management System Selection – Criteria and Preparation
Selecting the best enterprise content management system for your company depends on multiple factors. The first step in selecting the best ECM will be performing a requirements analysis of the company. What functions will the ECM need to provide for the company’s successful integration?
A company must select an ECM which is the proper technical match for the company’s operating systems and networks already in use. What systems and hardware integration are necessary with the ECM? The company may not want imaging and electronic document storage from all possible sources. What functionality will the company require from the ECM? The company may want storage from all documents scanners and copiers or only electronic document storage. In selecting the best ECM, the company also needs to have a budget in mind, and be ready to evaluate their return on investment. Cost/benefit examples, documentation of the company’s technical infrastructure, a breakdown of capture necessities, content management, business process automation options, and infrastructure requirements will also help determine the best electronic management system.
Most companies will find themselves interviewing and having a question and answer session with various vendors of ECM’s before deciding on the system. Questions should be prepared based on the determined requirements and budgetary constraints. A well prepared requirement analysis will assist in making the selection process a simpler task. Companies may wish to address issues of support after installation of the system as one of the selection qualifiers in purchasing an ECM.
In selecting the best ECM, the company also needs to have a budget in mind, and be ready to evaluate their return on investment. Cost/benefit examples, documentation of the company’s technical infrastructure, a breakdown of capture necessities, content management, business process automation options, and infrastructure requirements will also help determine the best electronic management system.
Most companies will find themselves interviewing and having a question and answer session with various vendors of ECM’s before deciding on the system. Questions should be prepared based on the determined requirements and budgetary constraints. A well prepared requirement analysis will help make the selection process an easier task.
The Benefits of an Electronic Content Management System
Enterprise content management will offer many tangible and intangible benefits. Some are physical benefits of using an ECM when compared to a paper based document storage. Other benefits are not as measurable, but instead are known to be benefits associated with implementing and ECM system. These benefits include the vast resources and immediate document delivery offered through an optimal ECM system.
With a central repository, employees can search and access info at their fingertips
- Off-site operation information becomes accessible immediately
- Automated workflow speeds up processes and application
- Delays due to memo or mail delivery can be eliminated
- Supports a more collaborative workplace
- Removes the need to physically store documents
- Enhances compliance
- Reduces litigation risks
- Disaster recovery is guaranteed, and file loss is altogether eliminated
- Improved security
- Meets regulatory requirements related to record retention
- Content is managed through its life cycle
- Provides the ability to automate feedback and reports
The central repository created by an ECM system will use taxonomy to incorporate a centralized search resource for employees. This resource can be combined with an indexing system which develops a powerful search tool for employees to utilize in various aspects of the business. This can make customer information, corporate directives, and document retrieval a considerably less timely affair.
Emails, customer documents, records and other resources gained outside of the company’s base of operations are accessible to employees or management needing access. This eliminates large spaces of time created between collection of off-site documents and their implementation into company resources. They can be added, defined and indexed upon retrieval.
The automation of processes can decrease task time and increase efficiency. Categorized information required for various processes can be collected and delivered as a group only moments after the initial request is entered. Reminders, calendar events and delegation functions can be delivered immediately and in a timely manner. There are many processing and document tools available to for implementation. Displays of process and monitoring of project progress are all possible.
Storage space is saved due to the electronic filing of all documents. This electronic storage also allows for flexible indexing and flexible retrieval of documents. Also, the controlled distribution of documents is much more efficient from an electronic database.
Security is improved due to the placement of selected restrictions over sensitive documents. Instead of personal controls handled in a secure location, single or groups of individuals can have viewing privileges of selected documents. This also eliminates the possibility of a sensitive document laying around on a desk or left unattended.
Central storage of documents and backups can prevent lost files in case of disaster or what may have been simply misplaced files. With the centralized storage and backup systems, all of the company’s documents are stored and available with the proper security validation. Even if a document is saved to an incorrect folder the implemented text search can make it quite easy to recover.
Daily operations improve with the reduced time it takes to complete processes if an EMC is in place and working ideally. This is true for employees and customers alike. Reduced time is a benefit to releasing time-sensitive information to groups of employees or customers. In doing so, the company is reducing response and service time for customers. With the office wide access of the system, employees can receive documentation or corporate changes and directives immediately through the different localities of information.
Integration of Enterprise Content Management Systems for Employees
There are a few terrific ideas floating around to encourage employees to use a new content management system. They range from challenging them to use it to encouraging them to help guide it. The best methods will be those that introduce the system, show what it can do and show how it can benefit an employee’s work.
One option will be to request help from employees in indexing the system. Taxonomy is one of the most stunning parts of the ECM system. Using the employees’ knowledge to help envision tags and directories for multiple documents will help them become aware of what the ECM system offers. Also, it will help the system index documents into the correct locations.
Working with employees to become contributors to the content management system will challenge them to be knowledgeable of the new system. The challenge will be to become acquainted enough that utilizing the system will benefit the amount of time they spend in document retrieval. This will also help them to collaborate with one another with the goal of increasing efficiency.
Common Issues and Possible Solutions with an Enterprise Management System
Integration and correct utilization of the electronic management system are common issues when the EMC is first put into use for the company. Often employees have become habitual email savers. They save their important email, attachments and documents using the storage through their personal work, email and document programs. Unfortunately, on an EMC when an employee saves files to his local drive the documents are not available on the EMC system.
Considering the large number of documents, forms and email attachments which need to be uploaded to the EMC system, it is better implementing a systematic approach as to how this will be done. With proper time, labeling and information the entire company can have everything uploaded in a day or two. With the proper keywords and indexing, this can be an absolute process which grants the EMC system remarkable access and ability from the beginning.
Technological infrastructure also represents a challenge when initializing an EMC system and anytime a company wide software change is made in the future. The company and EMC system provider need to be aware that integration with the global marketplace could be necessary for external collaboration. This could also make standardized technological solutions particularly beneficial. When this is not done, and there are various parallel systems working when the EMC system is put into place, document retrieval, document management and ultimately content life cycle will function poorly.
The solution is to take the opportunity, when selecting an EMC, to standardise everyone’s applications company wide. In other words, every employee should be using the same spreadsheet and word processor. Also, someone needs to be in charge of ensuring that documents entered into the EMC system are all the correct standard format. If these goals can be achieved, the EMC system will be much more successful.
Administration infrastructure can act as a document roadblock in putting an optimized EMC system in place. Some companies that have selected an EMC system have had large problems with enforcing document management and standards within their employee base. While various routines for document management have been selected and documented, employees as a whole are not trained or made aware of the necessity of the changes and why they are not optional. With the proper regulations, training and an awareness of the EMC system the employees will understand why it necessary for them to make the changed necessary.
Many who have undergone the stress of setting up an EMC system, but who are now reaping the benefits, suggest a service organisation for up keeping corporation-wide ECM and for supporting every employee involved. The organisation can assist in training and supporting users, partners and advisers who are internal to the company. They can also assist in establishing the collaborate network of sharing knowledge throughout the corporation.
Another problem, which can stunt the development of an ECM system, is under utilization of management knowledge and training. First, managers have been known to be the least enthusiastic employees when it comes to standardizing various software and programs. Also, with their own reluctance to adopt new technology there is no focus on their employees learning the new technology, either.
If managers are properly trained in the new software necessary for software standardization and the necessary skills for the ECM system, the entire process will be more efficient. Managers can help offer the organisational resources and competence to carry out the ECM system development. They can also provide justification to employees and assist in evaluating the ECM.
There are multiple options for corporations ready to focus on global collaborations, organisational needs and network-based knowledge resources. The corporation must focus on the needs of the company and perform a requirement analysis to determine which ECM system will be the best fit for their organisation. Next, the company must focus on the technological infrastructure changes to ensure that all systems are using the same formats and software. With the best ECM system ready and all software standardized, the last step is management and employee integration. Management and employees need proper training on all facets of the newly employed software. They must have training on the use of meta keywords and the document management systems of the ECM. They must also be aware of the overlying goals in using the ECM for document management to maximize employee and customer support.