Enterprise content management is a system that is designed to collect, organize and manage an enterprise organization’s content. This includes unstructured documents – like those found in a Word file, an excel spreadsheet, or a PDF – structured information and everything in between. An enterprise content management system is rarely, if ever, one single tool, but rather a combination of tools, processes and strategies that are used together to organize information and improve business performance.

The goal? To:

  • Eliminate dependence on paper documents.
  • Maximize employee efficiency.
  • Improve productivity and customer service.
  • Streamline and automate business processes.
  • Make business-critical information both accessible and useful.
  • Improve collaboration.

What Does an Enterprise Content Management System Do?

An enterprise content management system helps with document management throughout the lifecycle. In other words, it helps users:

  • Capture information: Users can easily and securely enter data into an ECM. This can include invoices, emails, PDF documents, spreadsheets, etc. Effective content capture can take many forms, like using electronic forms, scanning documents, or managing documents that are already digital.
  • Manage and retrieve documents: Will well-managed and organized documents, all relevant users can easily access business-critical information. This can be done in many ways, including full-text search, keyword search, or using preset search options that allow users to search by creation date, username, or other factors.
  • Store: With a robust ECM, users can easily store all of their documentation. The key? To make the information accessible and searchable. That way, users can easily view documents, edit them, organize them, view the metadata and more. This, in turn, can improve compliance and reduce the time and complexity associated with document management processes.
  • Preserve or Archive: Users can also preserve – or archive – information that doesn’t need to be readily available, but that may prove important in the future.
  • Deliver: Finally, users can use the ECM to deliver the right content to the right people at the right time. Today, this will include a significant degree of automation, which can streamline manual tasks and help teams accomplish more with fewer resources.

Why Do Organizations Need Enterprise Content Management?

Organizations need enterprise content management to help them organize, manage and utilize all the content they have coming in today. And this is more important than ever, as organizations have information coming from more sources than ever before. Emails, spreadsheets, documents, presentations – the volume of information is staggering, and it is only growing as organizations continue to mobilize, digitize and adopt new systems and tools.

In this context, effective content management is critical, as it’s the only way that team members can maximize efficiency, make decisions, manage risks. Improve record management and complete projects.

Is Enterprise Content Management the Same as Document Management?

It can be. Document management will always be a smaller part of content management. That said, with the bevvy of content we have coming in today – from thumb drives, smartphones, apps, email, social media, video, paper sources and more – not all content management will come from documents.

Does Enterprise Content Management Help with Both Structured and Unstructured Data?

Yes. Initially, ECM was created to help back-end users better manage unstructured data. That said, over the last 20 years, the content game has changed. Machine learning, cloud technology, mobile capabilities – they've all presented new content challenges and opportunities that have really changed the game when it comes to ECM.

That’s why modern ECMs handle:

  • Unstructured information, or information without a fully defined structure that is frequently used by people. Examples include PDFs and Word documents.
  • Structured information, or information that is highly defined and easily processed by computers. This includes information that is housed in databases.
  • Semi-structured information, or information – like invoices or receipts – that is defined by a human then stored and read by a computer.

This, in turn, can help organizations battle issues that accompany poor data management, including lost time, lost productivity, compliance concerns and more.

What Are the Benefits of Enterprise Content Management?

There are many benefits to enterprise content management, including:

  • Improved efficiency and business continuity
  • Streamlined compliance and improved record retention policies.
  • Fewer paper documents, which can lead to increased efficiency and enhanced collaboration.
  • Less downtime and document search time.
  • Reduced time and overhead cost associated with document storage and document management.
  • Automated manual tasks.
  • Improved document security (which is achieved through restricted access and controlled access).
  • Reduced duplicate or outdated information.
  • Improved customer satisfaction driven by increased employee productivity.

Are There Different Types of Enterprise Content Management?

Yes. The various forms of content management can include:

  • Web content management: Web content management helps users handle the look and feel of a website. This kind of content management is generally used by organizations with complex websites or brand guidelines.
  • Transactional content management: With transactional content management, users utilize content to drive action and decision-making. This can include things like employee onboarding, invoice processing and the processing of loans.
  • Collaborative content management: Here, many users access and modify a single document. Examples of collaborative content include legal documents or group PDFs.

How Can I Start Implementing an Enterprise Content Management System?

If you’re considering implementing an enterprise content management system, you should first consider:

  • Your organization’s short and long-term business goals, and how an ECM can help you achieve those goals.
  • The various types of content that are included in your business and how your organization handles those types of content.
  • Your existing processes and how an ECM can streamline functions.
  • How information is shared and utilized by your employees and departments.
  • Your business culture and whether your team is ready to adopt a new system and enact change.
  • Getting this information straight can help you determine exactly what features and functionalities you need from an ECM system. From there, you can get into the nitty gritty of the implementation. Here, it’s important to remember to:
  • Prioritize on the most mission-critical documentation and areas that need improvement.
  • Get your team on board and bought in to the ECM by explaining the vision and showing them concrete benefits and expected results.
  • Invite feedback so you fully understand what your team expects and needs.
  • Create a dedicated team to oversee the implementation process.
  • Ensure that there are clear ECM policies and rules in place. This will prevent the mismanagement of data.
  • Embrace the growing pains. No technology implementation is ever super smooth. Expect the unexpected and be ready to adjust course if and when it’s necessary.

Want to learn more about content management and your business? Contact one of our experts today.