Improving the information management process became inevitable within companies and organizations of all sizes because, information represent their biggest intellectual property. When providing their services, many organizations (financial institutions, insurance companies, business and government agencies, health care institutions) still rely on business processes based on manual or semi-automatic paper document handling and processing, along with multiple personal records and copies of those documents.
Management of unstructured documents and content has become the key requirement for the survival and growth of the company. Only a small amount of information is structured and it is used in transactional business systems like ERP, CRM. By unstructured documents, we consider all documents for which any document data can be found only by opening (reading) the document itself. Structured documents represent documents whose features or every element of the text (word, picture, subject, content, author, amount, date, keywords, etc., ...) is written in database and it is possible to reach them without reading the document content.
Most of the company documents are unstructured and stored in different formats (paper, variety of electronic formats: from e-mails, MS Word documents, to web pages and multimedia content), and business processes are based on their content.
Connecting business content
Solutions for Enterprise Content Management (ECM) enable organizations to connect content with business processes through a single platform. ECM is a category of a software that allows management of all unstructured information or content, in a systematic and integrated way.
Information is available in various digital formats: text document, engineering drawings, images, audio and video records, e-mail. ECM system enables content creation through desktop applications and associated user friendly templates. It also enables the retrieval of existing content from different sources (from core applications, transactional systems, by scanning, etc.) with the help of different connected components (for example, component for mass scanning and indexing, connectors toward acclaimed applications, like SAP, ...).
Adding value to the business content management:
Advantages of ECM system:
- ECM adds intelligence through categorization, classification and document types so documents can be searched and retrieved quickly and efficiently.
- ECM controls inspection, revision and approval process for every part of content in accordance with defined business rules (workflow and life cycle management).
- ECM controls publishing of the content through multiple channels. Same content can be simultaneously published on the website, printed as a text document, sent to a fax machine or to a wireless device.
- ECM system is a part of the IT infrastructure and represents a complete solution to the problem of monitoring documents and information, and it covers the following areas:
- Document Management - document management for classification, storage and document retrieval, version control (versioning), access control and document security.
- Web Content Management - web content management enables to automate publishing of the content and ability to manage dynamic content.
- Records Management - records management monitors legal and business regulations of the document, cares about storage and archiving timeliness, and provides legal and business compliance.
- Document Imaging - document imaging presents an interface for scanning, converting and managing paper documents
- Document-Centric Collaboration - document-centric collaboration allows sharing of folders and documents, project support work, discussions and messages by documents and objects.
- Workflow Management - Workflows to support business processes, content routing, assigning work tasks and control of performed actions.
Within companies, there is an evident need for a suitable system for creating, managing and controlling document life cycle, namely of the paths the document passes through during its lifetime. The main occurring problem is document diverting from its course, retaining or even stopping the flow of information.
- reduced time for distributing and accessing documents,
- business transparency,
- centralization of storage, access, security and surveillance,
- reduced time of editing, storing and searching for documents,
- reduced response time of the system,
- lower amount of paper handling,
- lower requirements for archiving space,
- lower document duplication.
ECM system monitors the documents throughout their entire life cycle. It enables storing and archiving, tracking, searching, retrieval and processing of the information within documents, and sharing of the same within or outside the organization.
The modern trend of the ECM system development can be displayed with several points:
Companies, such as banks, government business and agencies, pharmaceutical industry, medical institutions, for some time have recognized the need for solutions for content management. Such solutions rely on Electronic Document Management (EDM) systems to accomplish verifiable standards and avoid penalties that might affect their profitability.
- ECM system is a part of the IT infrastructure, more vendors are offering it to the customers,
- Integration and single content repository present a key challenge in building the ECM system,
- Using the web channels for communication is increasingly common,
- Alternative ways to deliver content, such as SaaS (Solution as a Service),
- Influence of the meta data for searching content becomes more apparent and efficient,
- Simplified usage of ECM system, no technical knowledge is required,
- ECM systems are no longer a privilege of large companies and organizations.
Document management systems differ from document archiving systems in a way that they enable active support for the process of managing documents from their creation, review, approval, distribution, to their archiving. Archiving is only one of the possible states of the document in its life cycle.