Solving Content Management Challenges through ECM
With a large amount of content to process, managers need to be able to configure access rights and track changes to content. Work teams can no longer rely on simply emailing items to one another, saving information as files on personal computer drives. Instead, they need a shared location so that they can access from anywhere, regardless of the location. Relying on document naming conventions to track versions is also not a good idea as documents are changed by multiple team members. Groups require innovative document versioning tools that track changes and allow team members to easily identify the appropriate version of a given set of information. For all the right reasons, enterprise content management (ECM) software has become a must have application in the enterprise information toolkit. However, before investing in an ECM, enterprises should rationalize their investment with clear examples of return on investment or operational efficiency prior to buying the software.
Uses of ECM Tools
Records Management— For many organizations, managing customer records or other similar data has been the traditional use case for ECM tools. ECM is especially useful for companies with strict compliance or other industry regulations that need to capture, manage, archive and ultimately destroy files after a certain time.
There are many ECM systems that support compliance with regulations specific to certain industries, such as Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) for financial services and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for healthcare. ECM features that support compliance enables documents to be converted from paper to electronic form and then stored in a secured manner with controlled access for a prescribed period. Once the period has elapsed, the software automatically archives or destroys the content based on the requirements.
Basic File Sharing and Document Management Repositories— These are one of the core capabilities of full-featured ECM suites. However, a less fully featured ECM solution can also satisfy this feature along with the file-sharing applications in the market. This is the reason; file-sharing services have fortified traditional ECM vendors a run for their money.
Moreover, ECM tools can be operated on-premises as well as behind the firewall. Some companies do not wish to move their data to the cloud for security or regulatory reasons. Therefore, they opt for on-premises ECM technologies instead of cloud-based file-sharing services. Nowadays, companies are choosing hybrid ECM deployments, where they keep some content on-premises and the others in the cloud. Hybrid solutions can present licensing and other concerns, including problems configuring enterprise search functionality to effectively search both repositories. Some of the vendors today are successful in addressing these issues with capabilities that allow users to find content across repositories through a single search.
Collaboration for Third Parties, Remote Workforces and Mobile Teams— As ECM tools provide a central repository of information, it enables collaboration on work projects. But new usages have also come up in the market like crowdsourcing. Some of the medical research companies are using ECM software to manage research content allowing other teams to learn from and comment on, or to allow groups to collaborate on finding cures for diseases by following crowdsourcing practices.
In some cases, companies are building hybrid cloud architectures to accommodate collaboration and crowdsourcing—inside and outside of an organization to include third parties and thought leaders. After capturing data, many ECM systems also tag and categorize data for easy tracking and retrieval throughout the lifecycle. Some software suites enable users to tag specific parts of documents, so that those sections can be treated separately from the rest of the larger document. According to their various needs, businesses can finalize and invest on an ECM system.