ECM isn’t just for enterprises

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Information is the garden that feeds your organization – it doesn’t matter if there are 10 employees or ten thousand. In today’s digital age your ability to extract INFORMATION from all the incoming purchase orders, emails, contracts – and whatever other pieces of content fertilize your business – is the foundation of competitive advantage over competitors.

Admittedly we often overlook these boring information sources in part because it feels like a given that you would somehow manage them. For the most part in large enterprises there is some type of IT tool or policy regarding these information sources.

However…..with mid-sized organizations (100-500 employee range) it’s a different story. I would argue, based on my experience with organizations from the mid to small, both for profit and non-profit, that mid-size organizations struggle to implement a coherent information management strategy. This in turn means that they do not see the value that the right ECM platform would bring to their organization.

Here are the top four roadblocks to recognizing the value of ECM:

  1. They are still small enough that you “know” who handles benefits or purchases.
  2. Employees are largely highly empowered to get work done.
  3. Employees own authorizations on processes across multiple departments.
  4. Their processes are still largely informal and conversational.

This leads to tension between empowering individuals and centralizing information. Frankly, for most mid-sized organizations it is not always worth the cost to move documents into digital format much less implementing a full blown application to manage the documents.

For mid-sized organizations, seeing the value of ECM starts with having a strategy for information management that is focused on the role of content in revenue generation or operational savings for non-profits. When I was an ECM implementer, I always started projects by building a Enterprise-wide Information Management (EIM) strategy. This is then used to develop where the implementation project starts, how folders are named – in other words the implementation task list comes directly from the EIM strategy.

It doesn’t have to be complex – you can have a sufficient strategy by answering five questions in a morning workshop.

My five point value-based EIM strategy:

  1. Understand the tactical value of information. How do people use information to generate revenue? Remember this is about enterprise wide usage. This need to be firmly grounded in the idea that information is an asset that furthers business goals.
  2. Acknowledge that not all content should be managed. Do you really need to control the five different drafts of that sales presentation? This is a critical question that I have gone into depth before from a organizational perspective here and personal productivity perspective here.
  3. Define the importance of historical information across content types. Is there value in keeping audit logs and sensitive information past the required date? Would access to this information decrease the complexity of a user’s task.
  4. Build a complete picture of the regulatory overhead. What is our actual risk for information hoarding? This risk should be minimized by automating at least the parts of the process that break compliance.
  5. Define the maturity of IT to successfully manage the EIM strategy. Does IT have the bandwidth to successfully manage on-premise ECM and/or do we have the identity and access security to use cloud based ECM?

For most mid-sized organizations, the answers to these five questions is often more than enough to get measurable value from the ECM implementation. Overall it provides a plan for capturing and managing documents related to your processes that cross the physical and electronic content. This is a challenge that I think OpenText™ ApplicationXtender is purpose built to handle – and has great capabilities to expand the value of information across your whole organization. It has a full set of modules to be a complete ECM platform for information whether it is physical or electronic – and to extract data and move it into other high value applications.

Chris Wynder

Chris is the Product Marketing Manager for Capture and ApplicationXtender. He has a wealth of information management knowledge, particularly in highly regulated industries. He shares his deep belief in analysis and taxonomy as the basis of good information governance in his blogs.

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