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Why organizations need ECM

With the exponential growth of digital content, businesses need a solution that can handle the increasing amount of data being generated.

Most companies determine they need a strategic enterprise content management (ECM) solution after they identify an overarching business challenge. Often this looks like too much paper or unstructured information causing bottlenecks when trying to process, access or store information.

Consider a mortgage loan origination file. There's a lot to keep track of in that file.

If a form, a signature, a bank statement or a notarization is missing, it takes that much longer to close.

With an ECM solution, it's easier to track the status of documents and allow immediate access to the people who need it. Using the same ECM system, organizations can reduce costs while improving compliance with industry standards and security requirements.

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The biggest challenges of content management

Large volumes of incoming and outgoing content can be difficult to track, and it’s no surprise that many organizations struggle to maintain a successful content management strategy.

Here are the biggest challenges in content management: 

1. Ensuring regulatory compliance

Both internal and external compliance regulations are getting stricter. With the amount of paperwork and documentation that most companies need to keep, it is incredibly difficult to ensure audits are accurately completed in a timely manner when using legacy business processes such as paper or manual work.

An enterprise content management (ECM) solution facilitates audits and other compliance requirements. It provides structure and security to the entire audit process, allowing teams to exercise greater control over all relevant documents. Armed with this, organizations can create efficiency within their internal processes and subsequently reduce expenses associated with manual operations.

ECM in action:

The MetroHealth System, a nationally ranked nonprofit healthcare system in Ohio, was using paper-based and manual processes. It was slowing down operations enterprise-wise and risking regulatory compliance.

To combat this, the organization onboarded a comprehensive ECM with native and automated business process tools. This workflow automation would lead to expedited decision-making. The ECM solution also helped improve patient care and ensure compliance, in part by delivering a complete audit trail.

> Read more | View a breakdown of document retention periods and guidelines

2. Maintaining control over documents

How would your business succeed if each sales rep worked from a different price list? Or if some were using outdated contracts to finalize sales?

An ECM solution allows for document management and version control. Organizations big and small can centralize all relevant files, provide offline synchronization for remote users and ensure that everyone has access to the latest document versions.

ECM in action:

Take, for example, The Royal Marsden Hospital in London. The ultimate goal: minimal paperwork in clinical administration throughout the hospital's core departments. 

The Royal Marsden's shift to a digital-first nature enabled administrative staff and clinicians to have a complete view of their patients from the very beginning, eliminated the paper-chasing and streamlined change management. An ECM provided them with a secure, yet accessible database of test results, MRIs and other patient-related information. 

3. Delivering an exceptional customer and employee experience

When an organization depends on paper processes and manual workflows, it can negatively impact the service provided to customers. The slow response times, lack of one “source of truth” and human-introduced errors can all add up to dissatisfied customers or clients.

An ECM can help improve customer satisfaction with faster turnaround times and better quality control. Additionally, it can help lower costs by freeing up staff from manual tasks and enforcing consistent business practices to ensure accountability and compliance.

ECM in action:

Redstone Federal Credit Union, an Alabama-based credit union, witnessed a significant growth of debit card transactions over the past decade. But as it grew, so did its disputes. Dispute resolution at Redstone was still heavily-manual, which meant existing staff struggled to meet deadlines to issue provisional credit — and member experience began to suffer as a result of delays and unsuccessful communication. 

Redstone introduced an ECM solution that digitized it's in-branch dispute process and automate the processing of provisional credit. Amongst other cost-savings benefits, this saved Redstone 5,100 hours per year and reduced the time taken to issue provisional credit from five or so business days to a matter of minutes. 

4. Keeping track of information

Intelligent information management will be critical to the data-driven decision-making of tomorrow. Unfortunately, storing and accessing documents efficiently in legacy systems is often still difficult because in many cases, the data is in disparate systems.

An ECM or content services solution allows for complete document life cycle management as well as secure document storage, from input through destruction. In high-performance ECMs, documents are centralized, searchable and automatically linked to the appropriate account, customer, patient or employee.

ECM in action:

The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority (CHFA) was struggling with mountains of paper (project files could reach 300 pages or more).

Upon implementing an ECM solution, its records management process became clearer and more efficient. This reduced the time to retrieve project files from 12 minutes to 10 seconds or less, making its staff three times more productive.

5. Streamlining business processes

Efficient business processes are paramount to organizational success and the stability of your bottom line. Whether you’re focused on the big picture or the day-to-day effectiveness of employees, the details of how your information moves through your organization will impact you.

Best-in-class ECM solutions integrate with core applications (ERPs, student information systems, etc.) to eliminate siloed information and streamline your existing technology investments. The right ECM vendor will provide intuitive, native functionality to help your organization get its work done quickly, efficiently and effectively.

ECM in action:

The University of Northern Colorado was riddled with paper-intensive and inconsistent processes that kept university officials in the dark about their contracts.  

After implementing an ECM solution, the university managed to streamline and gain a comprehensive visibility into a contract's lifecycle — from request to contract execution. This was a direct result of technologies such as process automation, content management and case management which paved the way for greater standardization, better compliance tracking and lesser manual errors. 

> Read more: How to create a business process model

6. Going paperless

Paper documents consume time and space across an organization. Human resources, accounts payable and receivable, facilities management and other departments get slowed down by processing delays, incomplete information and duplicate work when processes rely on paper.

Organizations that go paperless often look to ECM solutions because they improve collaboration, drive cost savings and promote better governance over data.

ECM in action:

Canal Barge is a family-owned marine transportation company in Louisiana, United States. Unfortunately, their accounts payable department was overwhelmed with paperwork (generating 300,000 – 500,000 sheets in a year) and was running out of storage space quickly.

The company introduced an ECM solution to digitize and streamline its invoice approval process. This simplified data collection and storage by automatically capturing invoice data as soon as it arrived, routing documents efficiently and notifying reviewers without the need for paper copies. The company continued to expand its business without needing to renovate the building or relocate to a larger space to store physical documentation.

Take action: How to find the right ECM solution

Choosing the right ECM solution starts with understanding your business’ content requirements, and no one knows those better than you and your team. Learn more about what ECM buyers do to find the perfect fit.

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