What is Enterprise Content Management (ECM)?

Enterprise content management (ECM) systems are comprehensive platforms that help enterprises employees at various levels curate, organize, store, share, and manage various types of content:

  • Web properties (XML, HTML)
  • Product information
  • Records
  • Documents (DOC, OCF, XLS, PDF)
  • Images (JPEG, TIFF, PNG)

In an enterprise, configuring access according to different roles, levels, and groups is key. A system administrator sets user or role-based privileges and makes sure that information and data contained within the ECM is up-to-date, secure, and automatically embedded in users’ workflows. An ECM should integrate with an enterprise’s other systems, such as ERP and CRM.

Functions of enterprise content management

Several types of content management fall under the larger umbrella of enterprise content management and pertain to a variety of functions and roles within an organization. Several platform options are available that group together these various functions in one solution.

Case management

Also known as claims management, case management is a branch of enterprise content management that handles various documents and workflows related to internal incidents. This could include a legal conflict, a new hire’s onboarding process, an insurance claim, or a safety incident at a manufacturing site. Case management helps HR professionals, managers, and corporate lawyers keep track of a case and its relevant documents.

Records management

Records management is a database feature of ECM that keeps digital information, such as W-2s and accounting books, secure and makes it easy to find in the event of an audit. ECMs keep information secure with file encryption, zero trust security controls in their cloud architecture, and access control in bulk or at granular levels. 

In some industries, enterprises are mandated to keep information confidential according to regulatory standards. Enterprise content management systems help businesses maintain compliance with standards such as SOC 2 Type II or or ISO 27001. It’s useful for those in legal, accounting, and HR roles. 

Document management

Document management overlaps a great deal with records management in the safe-keeping and easy retrieval of digital documents. However, it also encompasses day-to-day collaborative activities that employees perform. Simply put, document management is the process by which employees create, edit, view, classify, and share documents. 

Digital scanning of paper documents is a relevant feature for document management. For example, HR is able to digitally capture signed employee documents during onboarding and keep the information secure and more easily accessible than retaining paper files. 

An ECM’s capture tool is also useful for capturing and tracking employee receipts when they get reimbursed for business trip expenses. Accounting teams would be able to use the ECM platform to access receipt records and track company spending.

For companies that create and share files in various formats—whether written or audiovisual, paper or digital—an ECM will help pull them all together to facilitate collaboration. Each member can track the latest document versions, which is especially useful for today’s remote and hybrid workers.

Proprietary information management

Within enterprise content management systems, both external and internal content management are key functions. 

For externally facing content, an enterprise needs a web content management solution, such as WordPress VIP, to facilitate marketing roles within the organization, such as content writers, video producers, and others. It stores and helps manage blog posts, graphics, video content, and more across a geographically dispersed workforce.

Internal documents related to training also fall under the content management function. For example, HR can create and distribute slide decks or recordings to onboard and upskill employees. Alternatively, sales enablement teams often use content management for training salespeople.

Benefits of enterprise content management systems

Enterprise content management platforms keep your company’s manner of handling content and information compliant, organized, efficient, and secure with proper access controls. 

Access management

ECMs allow for varied levels of access controls that can be configured according to a company’s unique organization structure. This way, information is available only to those who need it. This is especially important for sensitive information, such as employee records, that only HR staff members should have access to.  

Compliance

Some enterprise content management systems are built for businesses in particular industries. For instance, in highly regulated industries such as healthcare or financial services, enterprise content management systems have built-in features to keep a company compliant, such as timeframes for retaining records, keeping audit trails, and other accountability activities.

Organization

ECMs help centralize information as a single source of truth for employees. ECMs also reduce clutter that accumulates as a result of multiple file versions by keeping the most up-to-date versions and archiving the old ones. This helps teams avoid confusion when accessing necessary information for collaborating.

Efficiency

When files are organized according to company structure, no one gets confused or bogged down by files that are irrelevant to their role. ECMs make information sharing and storage more efficient.

Why your company needs an enterprise content management system

Today’s enterprises grapple with more information and data than ever before, and the amount will only increase over time as more companies undergo digital transformation. Your company needs a comprehensive, secure, and automated solution to easily manage high volumes of information.
Read next: Top Business Process Management Tools for 2022

Lauren Hansen
Lauren Hansen
Lauren Hansen is a writer for TechnologyAdvice, covering IT strategy and trends, enterprise networking, and PM software for CIOInsight.com, enterprisenetworkingplanet.com, project-management.com, and technologyadvice.com. When she's not writing about technology trends, she's working out or spending time with family.

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