Enterprise Content Management started with a single objective:reduce the paper needed to run a business. Over the years, the goal grew more ambitious: to provide digital tools that manage all types of content across the enterprise. To accomplish this broader purpose, ECM solutions evolved in complexity to include the following content management functions:
- Create and capture content
- Classify and organize documents
- Automate processes with workflows
- Store and archive all content
- Provide searchable access to documents
- Destroy documents based on records retention policies or rules
With all the ECM system options on the market, how do you know which ECM solution best suits your document management needs?
Types of Enterprise Content Management
ECM breaks down into three unique categories: web content management, collaborative content management, and transactional content management. Once you understand these three categories, it’s fairly easy to determine which of the three, or perhaps which combination, will best meet your needs.
- The Problem You Need Solved: Your company maintains a complex website that requires brand continuity with regularly updated content. You operate a commercial site that provides visitors with the ability to purchase your products and services. You seek a solution that will manage brand guidelines more effectively.
The Type Of ECM You Need: Web Content Management (WCM)
The WCM Solution: WCM controls a website’s look and feel (brand, navigation, and content) by putting the ability to create, modify, and publish content into the hands of selected users. With its built-in website rules and guidelines, WCM ensures that the website follows pre-determined brand guidelines and remains focused on its stated objectives.
Example – Amazon is probably the most well-known online store/catalog with a brand that is tightly controlled. Of course, this extends from its main websites to all sub-sites. From Amazon’s perspective, their very existence depends on managing their robust and constantly evolving web presence.
To manage Amazon’s huge amount of content, processes and transactions, all sites and sub-sites follow predetermined guidelines and content rules. To accomplish this very involved process, Amazon uses a WCM system.
- The Problem You Need Solved: Your company has documents that require input and modification by multiple people during a lengthy project iteration process. You seek a solution that aids in version control and document collaboration.
The Type Of ECM You Need: Collaborative Content Management (CCM)
The CCM Solution: This solution allows your entire team to work with the same master document, track changes, save major and minor drafts, create versions, and embed other files. The graduation from paper to CCM is comparable to the upgrade from stone carvings to paper – once you make the switch, you’ll wonder how you ever got work done previously.
Example – Perhaps the best example of collaborative document management is the development of a legal contract. A contract is initially submitted by the Legal Department, goes through iterations with the customer and vendor, and eventually finalization. Each person involved fills a specific role and is dependent on each of the others. There is often a deadline, which necessitates close monitoring of the group’s progress. CCM vastly simplifies the process of document iterations for contracts and other documents.
- The Problem You Need Solved: Your business has repeatable processes that depend on documents, records, and other forms of content. You deal with a large number of physical and/or electronic documents, and need an efficient way to make the content available throughout the organization.
The Type Of ECM You Need: Transactional Content Management (TCM)
The TCM Solution: TCM automates operational processes using the following functions:
- It captures content from multiple input channels (e.g. email, fax, scan, etc.), and automatically classifies the type of content coming into the organization.
- It stores documents for their entire lifecycle and enables users to easily access every piece of content they need to do their job when they need it.
- It creates an automated workflow based on the human interactions necessary – a response, update, approval, payment, etc. Workflows ensure that the user receives content at the correct time and in a way that they can easily process.
- It uses records retention rules to delete documents at the prescribed end-of-life date, ensuring compliance and de-cluttering the number of files.
- Because content should not be isolated in a single process or line-of-business, TCM is robust enough to work seamlessly with other applications and databases in multiple departments.
Example – Every company has an Accounts Payable process, and this is the bread-and-butter of a transactional content management system. Most small to midsize organizations process thousands of AP documents a year. AP needs a system that receives, processes and releases transaction documents quickly and accurately. Since most AP transactions are repetitive and predictable, TCM is the ideal solution because it supports repeatable tasks that can be assigned to a pre-determined workflow. TCM also makes certain that the correct AP documents are available exactly when an AP staff member needs them, and reduces any chance of inaccuracy.
ECM And ROI
Enterprise Content Management solutions represent a significant capital investment. Like any investment, it needs to pay for itself and provide a return. ECM gets to work quickly. It immediately reduces paper consumption, frees up floor space as filing cabinets disappear, and eliminates the costs of offsite storage, microfiche, and shipping.
Managing content without an ECM system forces employees to engage in low-value paper-chasing activities, or blindly search file folders for specific documents. Adding an ECM improves the performance of your entire organization. The best news is increased performance that supports customer satisfaction, greater profits, and competitive advantages. Speak to a consultant to determine the best type of ECM for your organization and you’ll be on a path to greater efficiency and productivity.