Only 20 years ago, if a customer had wanted a copy of a cheque payment from his bank, the request would have taken days, if not weeks, to complete. Locate the cheque, copy it, send it from the storage warehouse to the bank, and then mail it to the customer. Nowadays, the information can be retrieved almost instantaneously, while the customer is still on the phone. That’s the beauty of ECM, so let’s take a closer look at what it can do.
Definition of ECM
ECM is the systematic collection and organisation of information related to a company’s business. It is a dynamic combination of methods and tools, used to capture, manage, store, preserve and deliver information that is necessary for business processes.
- Capture – to enter content into the system
- Manage – to give the appropriate people access to it
- Store – to place the content in a secure location, a virtual vault
- Preserve – to ensure long term protection of the content for as long as is required
- Deliver – to make the content available to the right people when they need it
Overview of ECM
ECM has evolved from the Document Management Systems of the 80’s and 90’s into a complete process for all content and information relating to companies. Tools and strategies allow for the management of unstructured, semi-structured and structured information, and make it available for staff to find, alter, edit and process with ease. Larger organisations require a platform that is more than just content management, integrating with the added facilities of workflow management, collaboration, knowledge exchange, digital asset management and process management.
Key Features of ECM
Document organisation – adding structure and metadata to content for easier access, with additional rules for automated access permission and length of validity.
Document protection – protection against unauthorised access and accidental deletion, and safe collaboration between working groups, internal and external.
Business process implementation – taking care of all business processes and connecting with other company systems, such as CRM and PLM.
Audit trails – logging all operations, accesses and activities to meet regulatory requirements.
A well-tailored, personalised ECM will reduce printing, shipping and storage costs immeasurably, with the added benefits of risk and error reduction, using processes such as automated digital workflow, user ID and authentication, and auditing.