Choosing the best enterprise content management (ECM) solution for your business is one of the most important tasks when implementing a hybrid workplace strategy. There are a number of solutions offering different features and functionalities—the key is finding an ECM that meets your specific needs, preferences and budget, and enables you to streamline your operations, enhance document security, reduce costs and support your hybrid workforce.
In this post, we provide a list of things you need to consider when choosing the best enterprise content management solution for your business.
First things first: What is ECM?
Enterprise content management or ECM offers an efficient way to store, manage and share all company content. It takes a holistic approach to information management and:
- Organises all data into one central and secure document pool
- Improves workflows enabling staff to easily set up and access all documents
- Enhances document security with specific access levels for employees, plus a record log of who accessed the information and when
An ECM solution also helps convert paper documents to digital format, so they can be easily tracked, managed and controlled.
So what things should you consider when choosing an ECM solution?
1. Alignment with business objectives
Choosing an ECM solution is an important business investment. This is why it should help your organisation move forward and achieve its overall objectives, especially with regards to your hybrid workplace strategy.
- What does management and the rest of the business expect from the solution?
- How will it impact current processes and workflows?
- How will it enable new workflows and processes that support your hybrid workforce?
When analysing a specific solution, make sure its features and functions can add value to your current operations, while also supporting future growth and development.
2. Ease of use
Like any other software or platform, to maximise adoption across the business, the best enterprise content management solution needs to be easy to use and perform at expected levels for individual users.
- Is the solution easy to use?
- How much training do the staff need so they can use the ECM properly?
- Can IT onboard employees and provide support remotely?
Even with minimal training, staff should be able to improve productivity, and easily access and manage the files and documents they need for virtual productivity and collaboration.
3. Ease of integration with existing systems and applications
Sometimes, the longest and most stressful part of any implementation is the integration with the existing IT environment. The right ECM solution needs to integrate seamlessly with your existing systems and applications.
- How much configuration is required to ensure that it works with your existing systems?
- Is the ECM easy to integrate with new systems or applications that you may implement soon as part of your hybrid workplace strategy?
- How much time will the IT team spend on managing the ECM integration on an ongoing basis?
In other words, your IT or development team should not be spending a lot of time and resources just to make the ECM work within the current network. The best enterprise content management solution should require little or no programming, as it should provide you with enough compatibility across a wide range of systems and applications.
The ECM should be able to grow as your company and needs grow, being:
- Flexible enough to adjust to increasing workflow requirements
- Scalable with the addition of new staff members as the business expands
- Customisable with more features and capabilities to support future needs
That way you aren’t basing your decision on your current company size, needs or hybrid working model, and your ECM is future-proof.
5. Cloud readiness
Storing data in the cloud is the obvious choice for hybrid workplaces, providing scalability, accessibility and security benefits for remote workforces.
- Cloud-based solution
- Ensure data security
A cloud-based ECM will allow your employees to easily access and manage documents within a secure private or public cloud. It’s critical that you review your provider’s security measures and protocols to ensure you choose the right solution and understand your own responsibilities.
In a hybrid work environment, your people will increasingly access documents and files through their laptops, phones or tablets - and your ECM solution needs to support staff mobility and remote accessibility.
- Can staff easily access the required information anywhere, anytime across different devices and platforms?
- Can staff upload and edit documents on the go?
7. Automation and digitisation
Your ECM solution can automatically capture, process and store paper documents in a digital format.
That way, you can:
- Minimise the human error of manually processing files
- Increase the accuracy of digital documents
- Improve productivity with easy access to any required information
- Support virtual collaboration within your hybrid workforce
Security is an ongoing concern for many businesses, especially if data is stored in cloud servers. Your ECM needs to be able to give you the highest level of security, including:
- Individual and group access levels and permissions
- Regular automated back-ups
- Document usage monitoring
- Total visibility and control
Data compliance is a leading business concern, with a growing volume of data from everyday operations. The quantity and type of data creates challenges that are further complicated by increasingly complex compliance regulations.
That is why it’s essential that your ECM solution is flexible enough to adjust to any new record-keeping and security requirements that may be implemented in the future.
10. Provider experience and support
It’s important to consider the experience, expertise and track record of the ECM solution provider so that you can work with them more as a partner than just a product vendor.
- Does the vendor or provider specialise in document management solutions?
- What about training and ongoing support?
You need to carefully consider the service and support to be provided before, during and after implementation. This includes a training program for all staff at all levels of technical skill.
If you'd like to make sure you choose the best enterprise content management solution that is best suited to your business, download our comprehensive ECM Checklist.
Building a resilient and productive hybrid work environment requires the right hardware, software and processes. Download our Smarter Workplaces Guide for a step-by-step strategy for implementing an effective hybrid work model that equips your employees to work anywhere, any time.
This article was originally published on 14 March 2018. It was modified on 13 October 2020.