Gartner’s Advice for Getting More Value Out of Your ECM System

3 min read
  • Information Technology
  • Document & Records Management
Mark Gilbert – Research VP, Gartner

Many organizations turn to Gartner, a technology research and advisory firm, for help with decisions around technology investment and implementation. For those that don’t have the budget for a formal engagement with Gartner, this blog post outlines the suggestions Mark Gilbert, Research Vice President at Gartner, made during the Laserfiche Empower Conference to help organizations get more value from their ECM systems.

To kick off his presentation, Gilbert noted that “documents are the bread and butter of business.” This is why, he said, “ECM has been around for 20 years and the market is still growing.”

According to Gilbert, many organizations start by using ECM for search and retrieval. “The basement-level use case,” he said, “is [using ECM as] a place to put stuff.”

That approach, he said, “doesn’t do much to help you innovate…. You get more value when you start [using ECM] to address collaborative processes.”

“Process is a key part of the ECM value equation.”

These collaborative processes include things like:

  • Case management (i.e. loan origination, claims processing, etc.)
  • Contract management
  • Correspondence management
  • Customer communication management

“If you just think about the secure repository, you’re missing most of the value,” Gilbert said. “Process is a key part of the ECM value equation.”

Overcoming Hurdles to Automation

Gilbert noted that one of the biggest barriers to moving beyond a “digital filing cabinet” approach to ECM is the failure to align IT with business needs. “Many Gartner clients aren’t good at marrying business and IT,” he said. “The biggest recipe for failure is [an IT department that says] ‘We turned it on. We’re done.’”

Does Your Organization Have a Business Analyst?

To avoid that scenario, he suggested using someone in a business analyst role to go into departments and understand how they use information. This person—who must possess both good communication skills and a keen understanding of business goals—will talk to department heads, ECM power users and other department personnel to identify:

  • High-value content.
  • Process flows for high-value content.

Ultimately, the business analyst will figure out how to make key departmental processes more efficient through automation and integration. “It might sound simplistic, but when you’re in accounts payable processing 1,000 invoices a day, automating it makes a big difference,” Gilbert said.

The Best Place to Start

For organizations trying to decide which department to approach first or which process to start with, Gilbert has a simple piece of advice: “Find someone who has a problem, sit down with them and solve it, and they will sell the system throughout the enterprise.”

He noted that gaining enterprise buy-in is important for increasing ROI. “Value from ECM doesn’t come from everyone in the organization using it to do the same thing, but from different departments using it for their own needs.”

“Value from ECM doesn’t come from everyone in the organization using it to do the same thing, but from different departments using it for their own needs.”

He explained, “Each department is a little universe unto itself,” and helping them all use one system to achieve their goals is the ideal. “More is not better when it comes to the number of ECM systems [in your organization],” he said.

In the end, Gilbert said, improving data quality and cutting down on paper and storage costs is nice, but the efficiency gains are where the real ROI of ECM lies. “I’ve talked to 15,000 companies around the world in my 20 years at Gartner, and it’s possible to get 5-10% efficiency gains—getting more done without hiring—from ECM.

“Process efficiency tied to content will drive your organization forward.”

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