AIIM White Paper – Reviewed

A Winning ECM Recipe: Simplicity On The Frontend and Sophistication On The Backend

About this reviewed White Paper

This is a great read that talks about how ECM (Enterprise Content Management) and DMS (Document Management System) impact business.

As the non-profit association dedicated to nurturing, growing and supporting the user and supplier communities of ECM (Enterprise Content Management) and Social Business Systems, AIIM is proud to provide this research. In this way the entire community can take full advantage of the education, thought-leadership and direction provided by our work.

Survey demographics and the process used

The survey results quoted in this report are taken from a variety of industry reports released by AIIM, collected from individual members of the AIIM community surveyed using a web-based tool.

Invitations to take the survey were sent via email to a selection of AIIM’s 80,000 registered individuals. 49% of the respondents are from North America and 26% from Europe. They cover a representative spread of various industry sectors. Results from organizations of less than 11 employees have not been included, bringing the total respondents to 158.

About AIIM

AIIM has been an advocate and supporter of information professionals for nearly 70 years. The association mission is to ensure that information professionals understand the current and future challenges of managing information assets in an era of social, mobile, cloud and big data. AIIM builds on a strong heritage of research and member service. AIIM represents the entire information management community: practitioners, technology suppliers, integrators and consultants. Today, AIIM is a global, non-profit organization that provides independent research, education and certification programs to information professionals.

An overview

The issue of information complexity, and the resulting low user adoption rates of off the shelf solutions, has been well documented and continues to be an ongoing problem. As part of their daily activities, employees are required to work with both structured information —which is stored within line-of-business applications like CRM, HR, ERP, etc. — and unstructured information that includes documents, audio and video files, digital photos, and scanned images. It is here, the unstructured side of the equation, where employees feel it is often too complex or cumbersome to store and find what they need within their company’s existing filing system, and as a result, choose to store and share it outside of the approved area.

When looking at where content is stored, 61% of respondents to a recent AIIM study indicate that half or more of their content is managed outside of an ECM or document management (DM) system, in other enterprise systems like CRM, ERP, CRM, and so on. (Figure 1) This is further compounded when you consider that many information assets are also stored in email systems, network drives, applications like SharePoint and file share services like Box, Drobox, Google Drive and OneDrive.
Further research finds that 81% of organisations indicate having a limited ability to search across multiple repositories to find the information they need, further justifying the employees’ reasoning for avoiding the company standard filing system, as there often is no simple way to search across all systems.

Figure 1. What portion of your unstructured content and documents (excluding emails) would you say is stored in other enterprise systems (ERP, HR, Finance, CRM, Project Management, LOB, Etc.) rather than your ECM/DM systems, and is not accessible through your ECM/DM system(s)?

Electronic Content Management

This means that employees are spending unnecessary amounts of time and energy searching across various content repositories and enterprise systems in hopes of finding documents, files and other information they need to do their job effectively.

Setting up a simple-to-use yet robust and compliant DMS (Document Management System) environment is paramount if organisations expect their employees to embrace the system and maximize the benefits that can be achieved with it. Successful DMS implementations begins with user engagement from requirements gathering and solution evaluation on through the life of the project, from start to post implementation follow-up.

User adoption is essential to ensure business needs are met, compliance is maintained and information management practices are carried out consistently across the department and enterprise. One of the primary objectives in involving users in the DMS system selection and deployment process is to ensure that simplicity in storing and accessing required and relevant information, no matter where it resides, is a top priority.

While connecting systems, repositories and processes on the back end is critical for ensuring that users can quickly find the information they need, it is just as critical that emphasis be placed on its usability on the front end. The most effective approach is to develop an DMS environment that brings people, processes, policies and technologies together through a simple interface that drives high levels of user acceptance and engagement, simplifies retrieval and supports compliance.

By extending the DMS (Document Management System) beyond internal systems to cloud, social, and mobile, benefits are gained in supporting the functional requirements of the workforce, improving operating efficiencies and increasing responsiveness to changing regulatory and market conditions.

Simplify Content Collaboration – Internally and Externally

Many are turning to the many consumer grade file share and sync applications for storing and sharing company content with people inside and outside of their organization — and often doing so without their employer’s knowledge or consent.

According to a recent AIIM study, more than 1 in 4 organizations indicate they are seeing unofficial use of cloud-based file sharing sites by their employees. (Figure 2) This sidestepping of corporately sanctioned DMS (Document Management System) places the organisation at risk of non-compliance, increases vulnerability to unauthorized access and represents a lack of confidence among the staff in corporate systems. The reason employees are gravitating toward these types of solutions is because they are easy to use, can be up and running in minutes without IT assistance, formal training or corporate involvement.

One of the challenges for organisations in establishing an effective and widely-adopted DMS (Document Management System) environment is the provision of collaborative capabilities with straightforward information sharing functionality. Versus only providing static repositories where content is housed. Users must have access to content from anywhere, at any time and on any mobile device — while also enabling the organisation to maintain strict control over its information assets and support compliance requirements.

DMS solutions with the ability to support collaborative content development with internal and external participants in a secure and controlled manner. You must also look for systems that place an emphasis on simplicity in how users store, access and share content. Ensure that the DMS (Document Management Software) system can support your organisation’s security and compliance requirements without adding complexity for users.

Figure 2. Which of the following content access mechanisms are happening in your organization?

Electronic Content Management System

One of the challenges for organisations in establishing an effective and widely-adopted DMS (Document Management System) environment is the provision of collaborative capabilities with straightforward information sharing functionality; versus only providing static repositories where content is housed. Users must have access to content from anywhere, at any time and on any mobile device, while also enabling the company to maintain strict control over its information and support compliance requirements.

Ensure you look at solutions with the ability to support collaborative content development with internal and external participants in a secure and controlled manner. Also look for systems that place an emphasis on simplicity in how users store, access and share content. Ensure that the ECM system can support your organisation’s security and compliance requirements without adding complexity for staff.

Empower Your Remote Workforce

Key business activities and processes occur outside of the corporate walls every day. E.G. for insurance adjusters, business often takes place at a location. For a project manager working for an oil and gas company, it could be on a platform in the ocean. An effective DMS (Document Management System) environment must be inclusive of an organisation’s mobile and remote workforce, and have the ability to extend beyond employees to include external partners and customers. More now than ever before, professionals demand access to business-critical information at any time and from anywhere with the expectation that corporate applications should be as simple to use as the applications they use in their personal lives.

AIIM Research finds that for 59% of organisations, mobile access to content is very important or vital. 30% of organizations say they need their employees to interact with workflows from their mobile devices, with 22% indicating mobile capture is very important (Figure 3).

ECM

In order to enable your staff to easily collaborate, retrieve, manage, and share information from anywhere at any time, look for an DMS (Document Management System) that provide mobile apps on all of the most popular devices (iPhone/iPad, Android, Windows Phone). In addition, ensure the DMS (Document Management System) mobile apps provide a user experience that is friendly, without losing functionality, such as document control, workflow and compliance processes.

Create an Integrated Information Solution

In order to meet business and compliance needs, as well as to effectively serve the needs of
customers, organisations must enable fast access to accurate and up-to-date knowledge. Users need to be able to quickly locate the correct version of a document, or collections of documents, without wasting time searching through disconnected business systems and repositories.

AIIM Research shows that having two or three systems and repositories is common (26%), while 43% cite four or more can be found in the largest organisations.

In an ideal ECM environment, information is not tethered to a specific location – it resides within, and can be accessed and synced between, various systems and devices without duplication of content. Regardless of where it resides, users can quickly and easily find and use the information they need to help them make more informed decisions and provide greater value to customers. As a result, information assets are freed from the confines of applications, platforms and information silos. The ultimate goal is to create an integrated information ecosystem where all business systems are interconnected in a way that users can capture, manage and access the information they need, when they need it. Once core business systems are integrated with an DMS (Document Management System) users benefit from “content in context” that provides a personalised 360 view of other information related to what they are working on from a simple unified platform. This includes information that may be relevant to the employee’s task at hand. For example, a salesperson finalising a customer’s proposal conducts a search in the M-Files to locate the most current version of the proposal document. However, since M-Files is integrated with the CRM application, the salesperson learns during this search that there is an open “issue resolution” request for the customer, and as a result, decides to wait to send the proposal until the issue is resolved.

Figure 4. How would you best characterize your organization’s experience with document management (DM), Records Management (RM) and Enterprise Content Management (ECM)?

Enterprise Content Management

While it is beneficial to integrate the back-end systems for information exchange, from the users’ perspective, it is irrelevant as to where the information came from, as long as it can be found when it is needed.

This can be accomplished by leveraging M-Files metadata to create relationships between information objects in various business systems, which then enable more intelligent and accurate search capabilities that span the enterprise and relevant business applications.

Conclusions

Today’s business professionals expect their companies to provide simple and effective ways for them to store, access, share and collaborate on content, and if this isn’t provided, they’ll figure out a way to do it on their own. Furthermore, not only are users looking for easier ways to access the information they need, there is a growing expectation that their information management platform will provide recommendations for additional information that may be relevant to them.

This user expectation of a simple to use, single point of access interface, translates into a need for contextual information management to include not only unstructured content (i.e., documents, images, videos), but also access to structured data housed within the applications such as customers, contacts, equipment and other information assets relevant to what the user is looking for.

Recommendations

As an information management professional or business leader, you should consider the following:

  • Simplify Content Collaboration — Internally and Externally
  • Map out the types of collaborative content, processes, players and existing technology solutions
    currently in place for managing your information ecosystem
  • Identify the source and use of content requiring collaboration with internal and external entities
  • Document the business requirements and assess technologies to meet the need
  • Empower your remote workforce
  • Include internal and external users (i.e., suppliers, customers) in your mobile DMS (Document Management System) strategy
  • Look for DMS (Document Management System) solutions with mobile apps
  • Create an integrated information ecosystem
  • Connect DMS (Document Management System) and existing business systems across the enterprise
  • Eliminate information silos by enabling users to access any information asset from any
    business system
  • Deliver a 360 view of content and other information, allowing the user to get to the
    information they need, regardless of where they start

Peter Ellyard