Putting the “Enterprise” in enterprise content management
What does enterprise content management or “ECM” really mean? Many organizations believe it’s simply storage and retrieval of archived documents for information purposes.
While this is true, it’s this thinking that hinders the expansion of ECM solutions within organizations. With the proper knowledge, ECM can be a lot more than standard storage and retrieval. From departmental solutions to a single enterprise information platform to manage content, processes, and cases, ECM can optimize your entire organization, saving time and money.
Organizations can be large, which means that most leaders don’t know where to start – even when they think they do. That’s why I put together a list of questions to help you get on your way.
Starting with the big questions
- What can enterprise content management really do for my organization?
- What projects are going to provide the fastest return on my investment?
- What projects are standard ECM functionality what are not?
- What projects can we do ourselves?
These are a just a few questions organizations should ask themselves when they start to expand ECM to an enterprise line of business application.
Avoiding the pitfalls
Fast-forward to six months into the project and none of these questions have been answered, but management is making the push. So IT rushes to put an enterprise software solution in place.
Unfortunately, IT is not sure if anyone is going to actually use the solution because there has not been proper training, testing, and communicating. No one is aware of the project or is ready for this solution. Making matters worse, it does not have senior management backing.
This combination is a sure sign that this solution not is going to succeed.
How can we change this way of thinking inside of an organization? If we’re going to streamline operations and improve efficiencies, tie business and technology together end-to-end and improve an organization’s ability to collaborate more effectively – these are bigger concepts than just one or two offices, departments or divisions can solve. They require participation and a vested interest by all parties.
Additionally, we need to understand the overarching and individual goals across the enterprise. Not just wherever the hot button is right now, because as quickly as markets and strategies can shift, so can enterprise priorities.
Start by taking a more pragmatic “enterprise” approach. You can always make a new investment in the latest and greatest product or service. However, if you buy into a system or strategy without taking a comprehensive 360-degree view of how, or if, your users will adopt it, use it, and react to it – the benefits and your hard or soft investment in terms of cost and time – may never be realized.
This is usually when people who are not in the loop seek alternative solutions, which only adds to the list of applications IT must support.
Thinking across the enterprise
Follow an approach that engages either the entire organization or a select population from across the enterprise. Engage more than just local technical experts.
To find out exactly how users will utilize and react to the solution, bring in business and subject matter experts, executive or senior leadership, and frontline employees. Understand what each office, department or division is working on today and what they need to deliver tomorrow.
What’s prohibiting them from doing so? What are their challenges? Their goals? And what does long-term program success look like?
By changing your thinking to include the entire enterprise, you expand organizational knowledge of capabilities and benefits, allowing you to be successful with a true enterprise content management system.