The Benefits of a Solid Enterprise Content Management Strategy

Content Marketing
The Benefits of a Solid Enterprise Content Management Strategy
Article by Szabolcs Szecsei
Last Updated: May 20, 2024

The key to running a successful business lies in one simple skill: the ability to keep affairs and documents organized. Entrepreneurs and business owners might argue, but if you can’t streamline your internal and external content management processes, chances are, the business will sink, even with the best services or products on the market.

This is especially true for large enterprises, where content isn’t just about creating momentum with customers; it’s also about making team management more streamlined and effective, helping teams execute their tasks faster and without hold-ups.

We asked our tech experts about the importance of having an enterprise content management strategy and how it can help large companies reduce costs, improve productivity and cut operational risks.

What Is Enterprise Content Management?

Enterprise content management involves the processes of managing external and internal content for large organizations, including contracts, training materials, and project documents. A sound ECM strategy enables businesses to efficiently and securely store and look up vital information regarding:

  • Customers
  • Stakeholders
  • Employers

Content management processes help enterprises keep their information findable and organized, helping with productivity, security, compliance, and overall resilience. Moreover, enterprise content management, like ERP processes, doesn’t rely on a single technology but rather on several different tools.

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Content Types in ECM

In a traditional sense, an enterprise content management strategy focuses on organizing paper documents like resumes, invoices and contracts in digitized filing cabinets. However, as technology has advanced, ECM content now encompasses virtually any type of information employees use to get their work done, such as:

  • Software license
  • Website content
  • Emails
  • Social media posts
  • Audio and video files

Almost all of these content types fit into one of the categories below:

  • Unstructured content: The information doesn’t have a clearly defined format, storage location or function. These can be anything from Google docs to emails and PDFs.
  • Semi-structured content: This type contains soon-to-be computer-processed data that will still need human attention either for classification or identification (such as, computer-generated but manually edited or emailed invoices).
  • Structured content: The data is defined and contained, like a code repository or a database, serving its purpose without requiring too much attention.

Optimizing the Content Lifecycle

Every piece of business information must undergo the content lifecycle process, which is usually consistent among businesses, although some specific actions may vary. In this regard, the purpose of enterprise content management is to ensure that the process is predictable and efficient from start to finish.

Typically, the process includes the following steps:

  • Capture: Obtaining information, such as an employee downloading stick images or a site visitor filling out an online form.
  • Manage: Decide how the information should be used and who should have access to it. For instance, downloaded images should be accessible to the content team, serving the purpose of future content generation.
  • Store: Choose where the information should be. This can include cloud-based storage or hard drives.
  • Preserve the information: This involves managing access, maintenance, and security. For instance, this can be the sharing permissions for company content stored on Google Drive or on content marketing tools.
  • Delivery or distribution: Ensure that the content gets to the right people in a timely manner to keep internal and external processes effective.
  • Removal or archiving: Manage the content you no longer need.

The last extra steps are especially crucial for those companies which must abide by obligatory data protection laws. Privacy legislation documents like the California Consumer Privacy Act dictate how these information types should be managed by companies.

Why Is EMC Important?

Standardizing and centralizing content ensures that teams always have the necessary information at their fingertips, making the company more efficient in organizing projects and finishing external and internal operations. Implementing an EMC strategy has several other benefits.

Improved Productivity

Thanks to EMC, staff members will know where to find the information they need, eliminating the hassle of checking storage locations, requesting owner permissions, and the classic back-and-forth between departments.

Automating content management takes care of repetitive administrative tasks, allowing team members to do more in less time. For instance, ECM systems can be configured to send out stakeholder notifications to address content edits, saving precious time on email updates.

Reduced Risks

ECM systems double as centralized platforms where you can store and deliver content that lines up with risk management guidelines and regulatory requirements. When your content is in one place, you will always know who is accessing it, including when, and what they are doing.

Improved Content Consistency

These systems ensure that all information enters the enterprise under the same process, reducing the likelihood of errors like content duplications. This also means that staff members have a single source of truth which is easily accessible for the people with the right permission.

Cost-Efficiency

ECM systems organize and automate data flow, speeding up processes and enabling teams to be more productive. The system removes repetitive admin tasks, freeing time up to shift focus on creative and more demanding tasks, improving customer service, product quality, and business strategizing.

Lastly, storing content in digital format instead of on paper also reduced physical storage needs, further decreasing costs.

What To Look for in an ECM System?

These systems streamline the content’s lifecycle in your company and doubles as a central hub for company documentation and knowledge. There are several ECM platforms available.

Below, we've listed the most useful capabilities and features you should look for. However, if you're looking for a custom solution, you can always reach out to a software development agency for help.

Flexible Document Capture

The system you’re using should support both structured and unstructured content in a safe repository; from supplier and client invoices, to contracts, research reports, emails, audio, video files, images, and more.

Many systems use machine learning to perfect functions like document and file categorization, while some of them also come with auto-tagging features to help classify the data and search.

Comprehensive Search Features

The quicker employees find the content they need, the faster they can complete their tasks. Once all data is stored, your users should have a powerful search functionality to find records. They should be able to filter their searches by titles, creation dates, authors, metadata, folder names, or even by phrases within the text.

Fast access enables users to address client, stakeholder, auditor, and colleague requests quicker, reducing the number of productivity bottlenecks, translating into better employee and customer experiences.

Secure Digital Storage

A good ECM system enables you to control all the content within your organization. You can decide who can view it, ensuring that only people with the right authorization can access certain files, and create or modify documents to ensure that everybody can find what they need.

For instance, you can store your employee contracts in your system and provide access for each employee to view their own, while the HR team can access all contracts. Such centralized document management speeds up off- and onboarding processes, as you can give new employees all the permissions they need without having to drip-feed everything.

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Integrations

Look for an ECM system that integrates with several other information management solutions such as cloud storage apps, CRM software, ERP platforms, and signature processing tools. Typically, the integrations ensure that the content is consistent across the company’s entire tech ecosystem. No matter where team members look at the content, the information will always be up-to-date and accurate, enabling more precise decision-making.

Consider choosing an ECM system that provides access to its APIs, enabling you to build custom integrations and create customized dashboards, and connecting your ECM solution to your already existing proprietary or niche software. However, if you aren’t that tech-savvy, it’s advisable to leave that to an adept software development company.

Automation Features

Last but not least, look for an ECM system that boasts several automation features to help you eliminate manual tasks and free up more time for work that requires more focus. There are several ECM solutions that automatically highlight or remove duplicate content, automate distribution, send out user alerts for editing or approval, and categorize documents for easier searching.

Getting Started with Your Enterprise Content Management Strategy

Implementing an enterprise content strategy can be overwhelming, even if you have experience utilizing different solutions. However, the following strategy can help you get off on the right foot.

Brief Your Stakeholders and Team Members

Before implementing any ECM platform, you should look for the input and support of all departments and stakeholders to address everyone’s concerns and needs. Your department heads should be involved from the start so they can explain how they operate within their business area and raise any concerns ahead of time.

Day-to-day platform users should also be notified. Let them know about your plans and prepare all team members for these future changes to minimize any disruptions.

Set Up Your Content Goals

Your department managers and stakeholders should understand what you want to achieve with the system's implementation. Even though your enterprise may have unique needs, there are a couple of border objectives you should focus on too:

  • Speeding up internal and external business processes
  • Reducing paper use
  • Minimizing organizational risks

Choose a System That Meets Your Requirements

Before briefing stakeholders and defining your content goals, you should start researching the available tools in the market. Create a shortlist of the worthiest candidates and see how they line up with your enterprise goals.

All better tools will help you achieve the basic benefits of having an ECM platform (using less paper and speeding up business processes), but keep in mind that all platforms will likely have specific weaknesses and strengths.

For instance, lower-priced options with basic features can fit the needs of a smaller company with a modest budget. If you need more intricate functionality, chances are that you'll need the help of a development team to build said custom features or implement the necessary features.

Implement and Test

First, install the solution with your provider's support. Next, invite a small sample team to stress-test its functionality using real business content. Ensure a variety of content types are used to confirm the system's readiness. Assess how the tool handles changing sharing permissions, adding/removing users, and uploading different content formats.

Basic automations can be set up to understand their functionality, such as triggering content notifications for views, edits, and approvals. Continue your usual business processes until confident that the new system is ready to prevent unexpected issues from impacting services.

Deploy the System

When you’re done with testing, it’s time to introduce the system to your entire organization. Aim to provide basic training and guidance to your users and encourage them to explore the different features and study the provided supporting content.

There are providers like Lasefiche that offer training courses for their platforms, but most of these systems sport larger communities where you can find firsthand reviews and insights from current and past users. This can be highly valuable, especially in the early stages of using the platform.

The Takeaways: Refine Your ECM Strategy Constantly

Once you’ve configured the system and ensured that your departments are using it, aim to refine automating and other settings to maximize efficiency. To stay on top of things, request monthly feedback from stakeholders and users for further optimization opportunities as they are more likely to come across potential issues through everyday use.

Lastly, regular updates are vital for getting the most out of the system. All good tools evolve with changing business needs, and you may also find it necessary to utilize new features to maintain streamlined processes.

Enterprise Content Management FAQs

What is enterprise content management, and why is it important for large organizations?

ECM involves managing both external and internal content for large enterprises, including contracts, training materials, and project documents. It's crucial because it enables efficient and secure storage of vital information, aiding productivity, security, compliance, and resilience.

What are the main content types covered by ECM, and how do they contribute to organizational efficiency?

ECM covers various content types such as software licenses, website content, emails, and social media posts. These contribute to efficiency by organizing information, reducing errors, and providing a single source of truth accessible to authorized personnel.

What key benefits does implementing an ECM strategy offer for large companies?

Implementing an ECM strategy improves productivity by streamlining access to information, reduces risks through centralized storage and compliance adherence, ensures content consistency, and enhances cost-efficiency by automating processes and reducing physical storage needs.

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