Enterprise Content Management, abbreviated ECM, can be defined as the systematic collection and organization of a company’s information to be used by a specific audience – customers, business executives, etc. It is not a single technology, process, or methodology, but a dynamic combination of methods, tools, and strategies that are used to capture, store, manage, deliver, and preserve information needed to support critical organizational processes through their entire lifecycle.
Unstructured information, and that includes Excel spreadsheets, scanned images, and PDF’s, are stored and made available to the right individuals at the right time. The main reason why Enterprise Content Management is implemented by different organizations, from contract management to commercial supply chains, or government administration to HR processes, is so that they can do business better.
By organizing unstructured information to suit business needs and eliminating the dependence on paper documents, it becomes easier for businesses and organizations to work more efficiently. Regardless of industry, Enterprise Content Management can help streamline business processes, remove over-dependence on paper, increase productivity, improve customer service, and reduce organizational risk.
The Key Components Of Electronic Content Management
Key Features of Electronic Content Management
Electronic Content Management can be broken down into 5 major components. Here is a look at these components:
1. Capturing Documents Digitally
The management of an organization’s content using ECM starts with the capturing and importing of information from documents to a secure digital repository. This could be any document created, stored, archived or shared, including:
Some of the methods used to capture documents include:
2. Storage of Documents in Digital Repositories Through ECM systems, enterprises can easily store all their business-critical documents in a digital repository that can be easily accessed. This not only makes it easy to keep track of where critical documents are located but also reduces the complexity, cost and time associated with managing critical documents throughout their lifecycle. This helps improves compliance with organizational record retention/storage policies.
3. Retrieval of Documents, Regardless of Location or Device
Once an Enterprise Content Management system has securely stored an organization’s records, it allows and makes it possible for users to find whatever document they want using:
ECM helps eradicate the time spent on searching for documents and information, making it easier for employees to answer information requests from auditors, clients and citizens instantaneously. Apart from that, it gives staff instant access to information they need to make better, informed decisions about the different issues affecting an organization’s bottom line.
4. Automating Document-Driven Processes
By automating processes, Electronic Content Management helps organizations avoid manual tasks, such as photocopying, repetitive dragging and dropping, and hand delivery to achieve better results with the use of just a few resources. Some ECM programs have digital automation features that are able to:
For instance, records have to be archived, purchase orders need to be signed, and employee vacation requests need to be denied or approved. ECM automation ensures that these documents move through the required steps of approval and review, in the specified order. The result is processes that are not only streamlined and cost-efficient, but also error-free.
5. Securing Documents and Reducing Organizational Risk
With industry compliance restrictions in different industries becoming stricter by the day, many organizations are now turning to ECM systems to protect themselves against risk and to optimize their record management practices. Dependable ECM systems provide customizable security settings that allow organizations to protect their information from unauthorized modification or access.
Electronic Content Management solutions make it possible for line-of-business departments to manage user access independently. This way, sensitive human resource information stays within the human resource department, while private and critical financial data remains within the finance department despite information from both departments being stored within the same repository.
The Importance and Benefits Of Enterprise Content Management
Electronic Content Management systems provide a centralized platform on which content can be retained and disseminated in manners that meet risk management guidelines and regulatory compliance requirements. ECMs achieve these benefits by abolishing ad-hoc processes which can expose a company to regulatory compliance risks amongst other potential issues. Fully functional ECM systems possess features like content taxonomies, check-in and check-out, auditing capabilities, and other security mechanisms and workflow controls.
An effective ECM software can streamline business processes and access, optimize security, minimize overhead, maintain the integrity of the organization, and eliminate bottlenecks by reducing mailing and paper needs, as well as storage – aspects that will, ultimately, increase productivity. All the organization needs to do is document all types of content it deals with, the processes it deals with, and who handles content. ECM systems can be used to identify near-duplicate and duplicate content, allowing the business to keep fewer copies of particular pieces of content instead of many similar ones.
Enterprise Content Management systems have become increasingly complex and important in recent days for a number of reasons. Data breaches and financial fraud, including regulations set to prevent them, have improved information governance not just for compliance reasons, but to also help safeguard an organization’s reputations. It is vital that companies and organizations also manage their content more effectively to ensure that business analytics and business intelligence applications that help them use available information to make informed business decisions integrate.
Enterprise Content Management tools and strategies are constantly changing to adjust to the demands of businesses looking for more integration and agility. As technology continues to evolve, we should expect to see more features added to ECM platforms.
As a modern-day business or organization operating in today’s fast-paced, hyper-connected world, it makes no sense having documents and files scattered across various email accounts, smartphones, and hard drives. You do not want to waste precious time searching for critical information while your competitors are already out there winning and transforming the industry.
An Enterprise Content Management system offers set processes and methods of storing, organizing and delivering data at any time to all intended recipients while, at the same time, removing informational bottlenecks and helping you overcome the challenge of having to handle too much paper.
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