Enterprise Content Management: An Essential Guide

Atturra, 6 min read

What is an Enterprise Content Management System?

An Enterprise Content Management System (ECM) is a software platform and business application providing centralised management and storage of your organisation’s electronic documents and content, including images, videos, and audio files.

ECMs aim to streamline the process of creating, storing, and retrieving this content while ensuring its security and accessibility. They can include tools for version control, collaboration, and workflows to uplift productivity and greater business agility.

Information is a critical organisational asset underpinning all aspects of business right across the enterprise. The right ECM solution will unlock the power of your ever-increasing business information, enabling better decisions based on trusted information, robust architecture and functional system design.


How Does an ECM Work?

When a user creates or uploads a new document or file, the ECM stores it in the repository and assigns specific metadata which can be tailored to your organisational needs. This information assists in surfacing the right information when it is needed, as well as managing the lifecycle of the content on your behalf.

The ECM provides tools for capturing, searching, viewing, editing and controlling the stored content. For example, users can search for content using keywords, tags, or metadata, and the ECM will return relevant results. The ECM includes tools for version control, allowing users to track changes made to a document over time and revert to previous versions if needed.

ECMs also include more advanced tools and processes, such as:

Workflow automation: Reducing the time and effort required to manage content by automating routine content-related processes, e.g. routing a document for review and approval.

Electronic forms: Replacing native documents with electronic forms to capture data and records more efficiently.

Collaboration: Allowing multiple users to work together on a document or project in real time through discussion forums and comment threads.

Governance: Compliance with legislative and statutory requirements for the management of structured electronic data.

Records management functionality: Automatically manage requirements and lifecycle behind the scenes.

Why is it Important to Use Enterprise Content Management Software?

It’s easy for organisations to get quickly overwhelmed by the amount of content they produce. Integrating an ECM brings numerous benefits, including:

1. Increased efficiency and productivity by streamlining and automating the manual process of capturing, creating, storing, and retrieving content while reducing the time and effort required to manage your content.

2. Provision of content in context by associating documents with their transactional records in other business systems such as SAP, SuccessFactors or Salesforce and forming relationships with other associated content within the ECM.

3. Improved collaboration by breaking down silos across business areas and increasing accessibility.

4. Reduces the risk of errors and lost data through better document control.

5. Better protection against data breaches through improved access controls, encryption and audit trails.

6. Peace of mind your content meets and maintains best-practice compliance and governance standards, including GDPR and HIPAA.

7. Make informed decisions and prevent re-work when existing content is easier to find and access.

Getting Your Content in Shape Before ECM Integration

If your organisation is considering integrating an ECM, there are some steps you can take ahead of time to help get your content in the best possible shape.

Develop an information management plan: The first step in effective information management is to develop a plan that assesses your current state, future state, business benefits and a delivery roadmap. Consider your organisational vision, objectives and risks, and include how information will be created, stored, and disposed of.

Establish roles and responsibilities: Clearly define the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved in the document management process, including document creators, approvers, and reviewers.

Design and implement an Information Management Standard: Develop and deploy Information Management frameworks, including retention and disposal policies that outline how long documents should be kept and when they should be disposed of. Effective Information Management standards ensure governance and compliance, whilst easing the load on content management and storage, through controlled content archival and disposal.

Implement consistent management rules: To ensure information is easy to find and retrieve, implement naming conventions for all documents, including a date, version number, and document type.

Implement version control: To avoid confusion and ensure the most recent version of a document is always being used, implement processes such as version numbering and tracking changes.

Establish security protocols: This helps protect sensitive content and ensure documents are only accessible to those authorised to view them.

Review and update processes: Regularly review and update your document management processes to ensure they are still effective and efficient.

Key Considerations When Choosing an ECM?

It’s important to consider your current and future needs and strategic business goals when assessing solutions. While there are various options, Atturra has successfully implemented OpenText solutions for hundreds of clients across numerous industries, including utilities, resources, financial services, legal, and government.

Whichever platform you are considering, asking these questions can help.

1. Will this support the delivery of my organisation’s vision and goals?

2. Does it meet the needs of our Information Management function?

3. Does the solution integrate with other systems and applications used within our organisation?

4. How well can the ECM scale as my organisation grows?

5. How easy is migrating content from existing content repositories, such as shared drives or online applications like your Projects, CRM or Finance systems?

6. What robust security features does it have, such as encryption, access controls, and audit trails?

7. Can the ECM solution meet my regulatory and compliance requirements?

8. What process automation and workflow features are included so I can automate routine content-related processes?

9. What level of support and maintenance is available, and is it offered as a managed service?

10. Will we need additional customisation to meet our specific business requirements?

11. Are Out of the Box, line of business solutions available from the vendor?

12. Does the vendor offer end-to-end services that assist with integration, migration, and project management to help ensure your project’s success?

The Future of Enterprise Business Processes

The use of ECMs has been growing steadily over the past decade as organisations recognise the benefits of centralised enterprise content management and its effectiveness at coordinating work activities and creating more value for customers.

Drivers of ECM’s growth in the market include digital transformation and hybrid working, as well as Cloud computing, making ECMs more accessible and affordable. Big data growth has also increased organisations’ need to manage and extract value from their content.

Additionally, ECMs are poised to evolve and take advantage of new and emerging technologies, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotic Process Automation (RPA), and Natural Language Processing (NLP). These will help organisations manage their content even more efficiently and effectively.

Find out more

Enterprise Content Management effectively organises and plans content for your large business processes. Learn what Atturra can do for your business with our pre-configured industry solutions built on OpenText and running on Microsoft Azure.

Check out our Data & Integration page or, contact us today.

You might also like