Let’s start with what Enterprise Content Management (ECM) actually means:
Enterprise Content Management is a solution designed to manage an organisation’s documents. In particular, documents with unstructured information – such as Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, PDFs, and scanned images – are stored and made accessible to the right people at the right time. (Source: Laserfiche)
That’s the textbook definition. In practice, however, Enterprise Content Management means so much more. It’s how you ensure your organisation runs smoothly, efficiently, and securely despite an overwhelming number of documents. And in a time when organisations are tearing through more reams of paper than ever, it’s essential.
Consider a mid-sized chartered accountancy firm with around 1,000 customers. They may generate a file half a centimetre thick for each client every year. That’s five metres of filing space – or around seven filing cabinet drawers – needed each year!
An Enterprise Content Management system takes care of this problem by digitising documents and storing them in a way that makes them easy to retrieve.
The simplicity of a good Enterprise Content Management solution conceals the sophistication lying under the hood as well as the myriad of potential uses.
Three key benefits of Enterprise Content Management
Storage and retrieval
The starting point with all Enterprise Content Management solutions is capturing the information you want to store. This can be done through electronic forms, scanning in paper documents, or simply finding existing digital documents.
These documents are then stored in your Enterprise Content Management ’s digital repository along with relevant metadata and usage rights. Edits can then be made to a single version of a document if the user has the right permissions.
Metadata is applied to every document and can be used for searching and locating documents. Metadata can be the usual suspects – last edited by, dates/times, original creator, and so on. It can also be any custom field that’s been defined – for example: invoice number; renewal date; and document type – anything is possible.
With a robust Enterprise Content Management solution, you should also be able use a complete text strings to search through the document text, annotations, entry names, and so forth.
Enterprise Content Management allows automation
Saving time and effort is an important driver of any software adoption, and Enterprise Content Management is no different. Not all solutions use the same level of automation. However, so it’s worth checking with your vendor first, as this can be a key differentiator.
A good ECM solution will allow your organisation to set up rules for automation, such as:
- automatically routing certain documents to the right people at the right time;
- alerting specific staff members when a document requires their attention; and
- identifying and flagging errors before work starts to avoid duplication of effort.
Automation rules can then be chained together to create a semi-automated workflow for your documents. An incoming order, for example, can be moved through all the necessary steps to delivery without a chain of emails or a whole ream of paper being generated. This both frees up time for your staff and ensures that nothing slips through the gaps.
Security with ECM
Governments around the world are strengthening regulations around the storage, access, and use of data. Records must be accurate and up-to-date, accessed only by relevant people at the appropriate times, and protected from outside interference.
Enterprise Content Management solutions usually have customisable security settings allowing your organisation to grant access to documents, folders, and even things like metadata and annotations to specific users and groups. You can keep all HR information within the HR department, or management reports within the management team, for example. In fact, with Laserfiche, our recommended Enterprise Content Management solution, you can get as granular with access rights as you like, even controlling access to templates and document fields.
Monitoring individual accounts for system login/logout times, documents created or destroyed, changes to passwords, etc. provides an extra layer of security. If data loss or a breach is suspected, it can be quickly confirmed or denied, as well as identifying any users who may have contributed to the data breach so they can receive additional training.
Learn more with ECM
Enterprise Content Management takes a sophisticated process (the streamlined storage, automation, and security of your content assets) and turns it into a simplified output that makes life – and work – easier.
When dealing with such important information, however, you need a trusted partner to implement the system and manage it for you, keeping your systems effective and efficient. At Capital, we do both.
Get in touch to learn more about how Scotland’s largest independent print supplier can streamline your office.