Enterprise Content Management (ECM) refers to a series of processes, tools, and planned activities that businesses use to collect, organize, safely store, and then present information to a specific set of stakeholders, including business executives, employees, or other customers.
Enterprise Content Management doesn’t refer to one specific technology or business process. Instead, it encompasses an array of different technologies and processes that companies use to capture and store content.
Most companies generally have a flexible definition of content, but it primarily refers to all types of information that businesses need to provide to employees to ensure they work properly. There are several processes involved in ECM, as discussed below.
It’s important to discuss the key elements of an enterprise content management system. These are as follows.
The first step is to capture the documents electronically. Any kind of document can be captured, with the most common ones including:
Companies use different techniques to capture such documents. The most common method is the use of scanners, which can be used to scan paper documents and then store them in a digital document management system.
Another way to store these documents is to use electronic forms, which can be used to turn a paper-based document into a digital one. These documents can then be categorized and filed on an online server or a shared network drive.
Modern enterprise content management systems allow companies to easily store documents in digital document databases or repositories. They can define specific permissions based on who can view or edit the documents, as well as who can create specific documents.
More importantly, they can define a folder structure so that the documents can be organized according to specific needs. In some cases, documents need to be updated after specific intervals, which is why they must be stored in an accessible manner.
A key component of an enterprise content management system is that they should make it easy for employees to access and retrieve the documents when required. Ideally, documents should be searchable, where users can either search for them using specific keywords, metadata, or by using specific filters.
It’s important for an enterprise content management system to make it easy to retrieve documents so that users can gain access to important information which can aid in decision-making. Document retrieval is also incredibly fast with ECMs.
Modern ECMs now feature some form of digital automation, such as routing documents to specific users, notifying them when a document needs to be updated, or even identifying errors when certain fields aren’t properly filled out.
Another key feature in modern enterprise content management systems is the use of robust security measures to provide access control and restrict access to important documents and folders.
Most ECMs usually feature security controls such as access logs, safe document destruction, using passwords, and more.
One of the most common examples of an enterprise content management system is the document management system in the AP department. Whenever purchase orders or invoices are received, they are entered into the system.
The information is often read using OCR technology, and then matched directly with invoices or other documents. This ensures that there are no mismatches and that only accurate information is stored within the content management system.
SoftCo’s Procure-to-Pay solution makes it easy for companies to streamline and automate their entire financial process, from capturing invoices to routing them for approvals and making sure that all invoices are matched with relevant documents.
It integrates seamlessly with existing ERPs, and can help businesses manage contracts more effectively and even offer detailed reporting and AI analytics on important metrics like spend, accruals, budgeting, procurement, and vendor management.