Tactical Advice

How to Select the Right ECM Solution for Your Business

Incorporate these enterprise content management best practices to maximize knowledge sharing.
How to Select the Right ECM Solution for your Business
Credit: iStockphoto/ThinkStockPhoto

Increasingly, organizations are turning to enterprise content management to deal with the overwhelming amount of content and data they produce. But not all companies succeed.

Forrester Research recently reported that 66 percent of information projects fail, often due to a lack of planning, communication and experience.

To avoid a project failure, you need to research, plan and analyze not just the technology solutions available on the market but also your own business needs and goals.

Here are a few tips to help you select a content management solution that will work for your business and enable you to achieve your goals.

ECM’s Proven ROI

When selecting an ECM (enterprise content management) solution for your organization, look for one that offers a proven and quick return on investment (ROI). Some ECM providers have enabled customers to successfully achieve ROI in as little as six to nine months. This can be realized in a number of ways, including fast implementation and smooth integration with other business applications.

When evaluating ECM solutions, consider both the direct savings — such as a reduction of resource and hardware costs — and the “soft dollar” benefits. For example, by increasing productivity from 50 percent to 500 percent, an organization can enjoy significant savings by redirecting valuable resources to other critical areas of the business.

ClosetMaid, a home storage and organization business and one of iDatix’s customers, saved an estimated $100,000 within the first year of using an ECM solution.

Direct savings came from the elimination of labor and hardware related to the company’s old microfiche system, and soft dollar savings came from the timely access to critical business information.

Hire a Knowledgeable Professional Services Team

When evaluating ECM solutions, make sure to choose a provider that will work with you to ensure that deployment strategies and product integrations are properly planned and sustainable.

The best ECM providers will offer a complete assessment of your business in order to minimize business disruption and ensure that your employees can get up and running quickly. A strong professional services team will create a detailed plan that will move your solution implementation through a clear process — the same way your documents will move through a logical workflow.

Assess Your Business

Make sure your ECM provider completes a thorough assessment of your business, including the following:

  • Organizational goals and key performance indicators
  • Current business needs
  • Cost–benefit analysis
  • Current document capture, management, workflow and processes
  • Current infrastructure assessment to make sure you have no surprises
  • Quick and easy implementation process

Go with the User-Friendly Interface

Choose an ECM solution that offers secure access to information in a single browser-based application. With an intuitive interface, your workforce will be empowered to easily organize and share information.

Look for tools such as dynamic linking, which enables you to link together related documents for easy retrieval. By eliminating data silos, you’ll further minimize search times and increase productivity.

Reduce and Eliminate Manual Administration and Monitoring of Document Routing

The right ECM solution will help you sync your personnel, paper and processes from the start. Look for a solution that offers authorized users instant access to information when and where it is needed.

You’ll also want a solution that provides a built-in workflow so you can optimize and automate business processes. With these powerful features, you’ll eliminate time-wasting manual paper processes and replace them with improved document sharing and collaboration across departments.

Another way to help your company achieve a quick ROI is to take advantage of workflow automation tools in your ECM solution. Auto-indexing features ensure that your data is organized according to business rules and prevents lost or misfiled documents.

Look for the ability to add your own business-process routing. Some ECM solutions allow users to draw business processes through an interface, enabling them to set up approval processes, routing, and audit trails and add security to the management of document processing.

Why ECM Matters

To decrease the costs of producing, handling, and storing paper, many forward-thinking companies are turning to ECM solutions.

But document capture and imaging is just the first step in enterprise content management. With a centralized data repository that can be remotely accessed and queried, ECM makes finding and sharing documents simple and easy.

Improved searchability, knowledge sharing and productivity are some of the main driving forces behind companies’ ECM deployments.

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About the Author

Steve Allen

Steve Allen is the CEO of iDatix Corporation, a business solutions company focused on creating intelligent software and solutions that align people, processes and technology.

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