In the offices on old TV shows and in movies, what do you always see on screen? Paper files. Stacks of them. Piles of them. Those poor characters were quite literally drowning in manila. And the unsightliness of those teetering towers traveled well beyond their Hollywood representation. Real offices through the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, even today, desks are always hidden beneath a heavy manila blanket. Files and folders never fail to surround us.
Gradually over time those stacks have begun to shrink. Less and less of those paper piles and the filing cabinets where they came from. The cluttered set design of exhausted lawyers’ desks in movies has been traded in for calm, sleek work spaces. These days, office workers get by on nothing more than a giant computer screen and that classic mug of steaming coffee.
Where did all that paperwork GO, you ask. What happened to all those secretaries you’d see leaning on filing cabinets, sifting through an endless sea of paper?
Enterprise Content Management happened. Thanks to ECM, keeping physical files and folders in-house is becoming a thing of the past.
Enterprise Content Management, in brief
If we had to summarize, it’s a way to safely keep a company’s content preserved in one place for employees to easily access and share.
Everyone organizes things differently. You might like to have your clothes folded in drawers while your spouse prefers everything to be hung on hangers. Organizing within a company is similar. It is without a doubt that each employee’s organizational style will vary. When it comes to the archival of documents, many factors come into play. When filing by date, do you organize by year, month, exact date, or quarter? When filing numerous clients, do you put them in order of brand, industry, creation date, or the person in charge of the account? And this is just the tip of the iceberg…
The possibilities are frustratingly endless and every person has their own point of view on what category to prioritize. Within a large organization, such a disconnect can result in fragmented and unstructured data. Files go missing, time gets wasted, information could get leaked, and everyone just ends up in a bad mood. When content processes become chaotic, companies definitely feel the impact.
All of your physical data will transform
Enterprise Content Management is quite the all-encompassing system. It can capture, manage, store, and even deliver content. There are many strategies, methods, and tools for implementing this practice, as well as specific brands like Contentverse by Computhink.
Every business on the planet has more content than they know what to do with. From spreadsheets to presentations, purchase orders to expense reports, employee files to anything involving sensitive or confidential information.
Throughout a common workday, employees need to be able to attain that information. Company content must remain accessible to its staff for research, reference, claims, and other purposes. Enterprise Content Management makes it easy for workers to search for and find the files or documents that they need. It’s a quick process that involves a comprehensive keyword search.
One could compare using ECM to having your company’s very own advanced Google search at beck and call. However, ECM is actually light years ahead of Google. Because instead of searching an enormous database with an endless hit list, you’re pinpointing exactly what you need, with all the specifics required to do so. And once the right files are found, you can then deliver them digitally to anyone else in the system. The system saves time and cuts costs.
Think of all the hours you spend…
- digging through physical documents
- searching within those physical documents for the correct information
- wandering around the office, hunting down the appropriate person to give those physical documents to
Whew. Just typing that sentence put me out of breath…
With ECM, workers can not only find a file they need, but all the other content that relates to it.
For example, if you’re looking up an invoice, you can also quickly and easily view:
- The purchase order
- The packing slip
- The check that was used to pay the invoice.
- Any other document or file affiliated with that particular invoice!
Enterprise Content Management allows business owners to take control of organizing their company’s content. Everything is efficiently filed in a central location, putting everyone on the same page. Finally, content can be organized by what it is, not where it is.
This means NO MORE…
- hunting through paperwork
- creating needless duplicates
- chaotic collaboration
- high-risk security leaks
- wasting paid time
It’s a way to save time and cost, make sure data is secure, increase efficiency and productivity, improve collaboration, and earn higher profits.
Is ECM the Same as Document Management?
In a way. Document Management is about managing your documents, whereas Enterprise Content Management is a broader set of features.
Enterprise Content Management is a system that offers endless options, such as integrated scanning, long-term archiving, better delivery features, and more sophisticated storing management. Document Management is one of those options. And to many companies, it’s the most important feature.
A solid ECM solution goes far beyond a software that specifically specializes in document management. It’s important to know your company’s needs and requirements before making a decision on how to organize all of your precious data.
Your company wouldn’t be what it is without the data and information that got it there. Tucking something away for safe-keeping no longer requires you to leave the room. And we have ECM to thank. We’ve come a long way from hiding behind folder forts and paper towers. Enterprise Content Management is the perfect solution for any company that plans on sticking around for GOOD.
A version of this article was published on January 28th, 2016 as Enterprise Content Management: an Explanation for Everyone by Andrea Cochran.