From The Editor | January 23, 2008

Not Your Father's ECM

Although some of the underlying premises remain the same, advances in technology have created increasingly specific ECM solutions.

Integrated Solutions, February 2008

Content and document management, in its earliest form, was meant to make it easier for businesses to compile, archive, and retrieve information easily and efficiently. These endeavors to 'get organized' led to the industry we now know as ECM.

Five years ago, AIIM published an article in its e-Doc magazine titled "Understanding the ECM Market." The article cited a few basic purposes for implementing an ECM solution. Some of these included content access and retrieval, content reuse, and managing content throughout its lifecycle. There was a time when consistent indexing techniques, coupled with a solid records management program, could accomplish these simplified goals. Since then, ECM has gone through a dramatic evolution that continues today.

In reality, the basic goals of ECM remain the same. The difference is that today these goals are becoming more specific, often focused on the improvement of specific business processes, rather than generalized information archive. For example, the introduction of advanced document imaging solutions, capable of processing unstructured forms and performing intelligent search functions, demonstrates the continued concern over content access and retrieval. The benefits of content reuse can be illustrated by the growing popularity of solutions that offer collaboration capabilities, such as Web-based SpringCM, EMC Documentum, or even Microsoft SharePoint. Finally, content lifecycle management has become the central focus of many document repository solutions, often largely influenced by the stringent regulatory requirements in verticals such as pharmaceutical, or even in more broad requirements as with the new e-discovery issues presented in the FRCP (federal rules of civil procedure).

Determine Your ECM Needs
ECM, with an original premise of simplifying the management of information, has proven to be anything but simple. The breadth of today's available solutions and applications is a testament to this fact. Scanning back over the last year of Integrated Solutions magazine will not only show you there is an abundance of ECM success stories, it will also clearly illustrate that these solutions are not 'one size fits all.' The ECM needs of an organization can be unique to a single area, such as invoice processing or Check 21, or span across multiple content types and applications as in the case of an integrated workflow process. The challenge is to put these concepts into practice and determine which ECM solutions are best positioned to help you deliver on your strategic goals.

If you think your business needs an ECM strategy, you are right. Every business needs some type of strategy, but determining which one is best for you may not be so clear-cut. Identifying your goals and priorities, based on your specific business challenges, will make the difference between a success and a failure in terms of your ECM implementation.

Inside this supplement you will find valuable advice and insight, provided by industry executives and analysts. John Mancini, president of AIIM, takes a look at current ECM trends; and Sandra Collins, a senior consultant with Infotrends, will give some valuable advice on how to evaluate the all-important purchase of a document scanner. Finally, when you are ready to take action, Harold Hockman, director of professional services at Optical Image Technology, Inc., provides a solid game plan to tackle your ECM implementation from needs determination to ROI calculation.