ECM promises to optimise your processes, driving efficiency by eliminating wasted time

This goes beyond automating a few simple decisions. An ideal ECM solution should:

Automate your structured processes

Your ECM solution should automate your predictable, repeatable processes. Certain processes have standardised outcomes, such as accounts payable, accounts receivable and the employee hiring process. These processes typically include many repeated steps, which can be automated based on logical decisions. Routing documents to the right person, checking agreed thresholds for approval and generating documents based on decisions made, are all areas that can be automated.

You should look for an ECM solution that allows you to build these solutions without requiring customised code. Your ECM vendor should provide you with a configurable visual designer tool to allow you to build these processes yourself. 

Consolidate your unstructured information

Documents are not the only important sources of information. When exceptions occur in your standardised processes, the information generated must be captured. Notes and reminders, reasoning behind decisions, and correspondence with customers are examples of this. If you cannot manage all these things in your ECM system, this important information will be spread across spreadsheets, email inboxes, Access databases and paper sticky notes.

You should ensure that your ECM system allows you to capture and manage all of the information related to a business process, not just the documents flowing through it.

Facilitate case management

Many case-based processes are not so predictable or standardised. These processes rely on the know-how and discretion of qualified people to determine what work needs to be done next, and by whom.

Your ECM solution should provide case management solutions to empower your knowledge workers to more effectively handle issues and high-value exceptions (i.e. cases) that are unique or difficult to predict in advance. In one central system, you should be able to have a 360-degree view of all case-related information, such as data records, documents, forms and history, phone calls, updates, insights, tasks and events.

With all the information related to a case – notes, observations, data, email and more – managed in the same application as your other standardised processes, nothing is lost. The relevant information is instantly available to those who need it and you have the audit history to show for it.