Your organization has decided that implementing an electronic document management system—or, if it also includes the ability to automate business processes, an enterprise content management (ECM) system—will help lower costs and increase productivity. However, with so many different ECM and document management systems out there, it can be hard to select the right one for you.
Here are three questions you need to answer before you even begin to look at the document management and ECM systems on the market:
1. What are your organization’s goals for the document management or ECM implementation?
This is an important question to answer because you need to know what you want to achieve before you can identify the functionality that your new document management or ECM system must contain. A few of the most common goals for implementing a document management or ECM system include:
- Efficiently capture information and automate classification, eliminating the need for manual sorting and processing.
- Securely and efficiently search, retrieve, scan, store, email, and manage multiple types of content, including but not limited to electronic and imaged documents, emails and audio-visual files.
- Automate content-related business processes such as case management, contract management or accounts payable processing.
- Archive records and apply formal retention schedules for effective information governance.
2. Do you want your document management or ECM system to integrate with the other software applications your organization already uses?
Although document management/ECM can be used as a standalone system, it has the most impact when it can be tied to existing applications, allowing staff to access the document repository through their primary systems (e.g. ERP, EMR or CRM). For example:
The Long Beach Police Department has integrated ECM with business intelligence and police records management applications to decrease gang crime.
- Wealth Enhancement Group, a Minnesota-based financial planning and advisory services firm with locations throughout the upper Midwest, has integrated ECM with its Junxure CRM system to improve client service, decrease paper usage and accelerate audits.
- The Fertility Centers of Illinois has integrated an ECM solution with its EMR system in order to give doctors instant access to complete patient records that include lab results, X-rays and historical medical data from outside providers.
Idaho-based DL Evans Bank has integrated ECM with its CRM system to accelerate and improve customer service.
- Bakersfield, CA, has integrated its ERP and ECM systems so that work crews can track costs associated with graffiti cleanup and create “graffiti mug shots.” Police use the mug shots to arrest repeat offenders, and prosecutors use them to recoup cleanup costs.
If integration is important to your organization, you must ensure that the systems you evaluate have an open architecture, and that the vendors you are evaluating have experience with the type of integrations you will require.
3. How much in-house document management expertise do you have, and how much do you need to cultivate?
A document management or ECM system can dramatically improve your organization’s information management and business productivity, but too many systems demand extensive domain expertise from expensive programmers, analysts and consultants. By looking for a system that fosters individual knowledge and expertise through the use of prepackaged code, active developer and support forums, downloadable templates, preconfigured workflow activities and an active user community, organizations eliminate the need to rely on outside experts.