Eliminating the need for paper documents has been the Holy Grail of electronic content management (ECM) since day one. Yes, it’s a worthy goal and it has obvious benefits – but there’s more to ECM than achieving a paperless office.
ECM has long been considered valuable only for its original function of storing, tracking and retrieving documents while reducing paper. However, ECM solutions can cure many organizational ailments beyond managing documents, if given the chance. Your organization’s ability to leverage your ECM solution into something more than an electronic filing cabinet can give you greater efficiency and other competitive advantages.
Breaking Out of the ECM Solution Box
Besides reducing the piles of paper, there are three operational aspects of any organization that benefit from an ECM system:
- Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity
- Corporate Governance and Compliance
- Business Innovation
Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity
Years ago, when a building burned to the ground, it took the structure and the business’ irreplaceable documents with it. Recovering from a disaster like that was often impossible, and it remains a challenge today. In the past decade, a significant percentage of businesses that suffered disasters (e.g., hurricanes Katrina and Sandy) have closed their doors and gone out of business. Mitigating risk and protecting the firm’s intellectual assets are essential in our unpredictable and dangerous world.
Disaster recovery and business continuity are two areas where a well-designed ECM solution can protect important digital assets such as contracts, personnel records, schematics, and historical records. ECM solutions back up all electronic records to disk or the cloud by design, storing the backup media safely off-site for easy restoration in the event of a disaster.
Corporate Governance and Compliance
According to the 2013 State of Compliance Survey by Compliance Week, only “57 percent of companies surveyed said they are using technology to handle document management requirements.” Document management technology has been around for decades. If your organization is part of the 43 percent not using document management or ECM technology, what’s holding you back? Compliance departments are often able to leverage tools such as ECM systems that are already in place to implement document retention guidelines.
Compliance departments have been able to minimize risk by using their available ECM technology to communicate and enforce compliance requirements across the enterprise. More importantly, by using ECM software compliance departments can support their company’s governance policies and ensure they follow corporate decision-making rules and procedures.
Business innovation is one of the unexpected side effects of ECM strategies. Every company relies on innovation to build upon its successes and adapt to changing conditions, but innovation must be nurtured and given an opportunity to blossom.
Technology does not innovate, people do—and they need time, energy and the inclination to engage in creative thinking to move innovative ideas forward. ECM solutions free up time so the innovators within a company can pursue improvements and modernization. Without an ECM system, creative workers are often spread too thin, performing low-value and redundant chores with little time or desire to innovate.
Efficiency Begets Efficiency
Enterprise content management systems are defined by increased organizational efficiency – which means a better organization for both executives and staff. This efficiency goes beyond simply improving paper-based processes; it can impact the entire organization. From disaster recovery to compliance to innovation, ECM solutions do more than reduce paper – and savvy business leaders are taking note of the distinct advantages ECM systems offer.