ECM: Nine Reasons to Take It to the Cloud
Successful ECM projects target a specific business problem with a specific business goal. Unsuccessful projects typically start as an enterprise solution or “transformational” initiative. Fifty percent of these projects fail because the business abandons them. The vast majority of these never enter production. And we wonder why ECM has a less than stellar reputation in some corporate suites. There should be, and there is, an easier way.
Enter Cloud for ECM
The rapid acceptance of cloud computing at the enterprise level as well as mid-size organizations means ECM can be done faster, more affordably, and at much less risk. A traditional on-premise software ECM solution requires significant investment of time and capital to plan and implement. Much too slow for today’s fast-moving, lean businesses. The significant growth in cloud (also known as software as a service, or SaaS) solutions among businesses today speaks to their drive to be more nimble and responsive at much less cost. Cloud platforms options offer a fast, easy, affordable and highly secure way to automate business-critical, document-intensive functions.
Let’s look at how cloud helps eliminate and minimize risks and challenges.
1. Fast deployment. Solutions created as “pure cloud” (built in the cloud rather than trying to extend an on-premise flavor to the cloud) can enable extremely rapid deployment. With cloud you can be up and running in days. On the other hand, large ECM enterprise initiatives come with costly price tags for hardware, software and training and have a lengthy implementation time. The longer the implementation, the higher the risk. As businesses move faster, old-style on-premise installation timeframes look unrealistically long. In fact, businesses can be using cloud and realizing business benefit in less time than it would take to do the requirements for an on-premise software solution. Faster deployment means faster time to value.
2. No installation necessary. Traditional ECM implementations take many months (or years) to show real business benefit and ROI. Long implementation and training cycles risk loss of focus or project abandonment. With cloud, all you need is a password, a browser and an Internet connection and you are, more or less, ready to go. Cloud requires no hardware, no software and no additional network infrastructure.
3. Complete solutions. Traditional ECM initiatives come bundled with lots of technology and services. When technology takes precedence over solving business problems, you risk failure. Typically, all necessary components of a cloud solution (like document management and workflow) come pre-integrated. No need to pay for additional modules or expensive and time-consuming integration services.
4. Predictable cost. Cloud is delivered as a pay-as-you-go subscription. Combined with the savings in hardware, administration and professional services, the total cost of a cloud implementation is typically just 20%-35% of license and services cost of an on-premise software solution. Obviously affordability must be determined by ROI and the time to realize that value. Along with affordability, the speed of cloud drives faster ROI.
5. Low risk. Cloud poses much lower risk to the organization than a huge capital investment in software and technology infrastructure. With cloud, if the organization changes direction and needs to go a different way, it can choose not to renew the services agreement at the end of the term. Just like with on-premise solutions, your content is your own in any case. You can choose to move it and dispose of it at will.
6. Easy administration. Cloud solutions are usually administered by someone in the business unit, not by IT staff. Because there is no software to install or hardware to maintain, administering a cloud solution usually consists of simple configuration and user-access management.
7. Ease of use. Business units see ECM as a way to solve a business problem. IT often sees ECM as a part of its IT infrastructure. The risk: only viewing ECM as a long-term investment, while ignoring business unit need to prove short-term value and ROI. Cloud applications are always built with the mindset of getting users productive as soon as possible. Top-notch cloud applications should include an intuitive Web interface, easy configuration steps and a quick tutorial that gets users familiar with the system in minutes.
8. Easy integration. Thanks to robust Web services, cloud solutions fit nicely into, or alongside, other business applications. Often, the document management and workflow features can be invoked from within a different application, meaning users aren’t required to learn a new system to take advantage of the added capabilities.
9. Secure. Often a pure-play cloud solution can provide security advantages over traditional on-premise software solutions. For example, cloud platforms enable engineers to build additional security at points within the solution where other typical enterprise content management (ECM) products cannot. The modularity of Web technology supports most business security architectures. Engage your security team early. Look for certifications and leadership on security issues from cloud providers.
Is Cloud Right for You?
While it makes business sense to automate and optimize document-intensive processes, solving these challenges with traditional ECM software comes with a wide range of risks. So when does a cloud alternative make sense? Cloud ECM is a good fit when:
- Transactions can be described in terms of document collection, assembly and approvals. Example: a loan approval process collects documents (credit ratings, appraisals, bank statements, etc.), assembles documents and routes them for multiple approvals;
- Decisions around the documents take multiple days and require many steps, which should be streamlined to reduce costs or achieve competitive advantage; and
- Business processes involve the movement of documents across departments inside the organization, customers, vendors or others outside the organization.
SpringCM, an award-winning leader in cloud enterprise content management, streamlines business-critical document processes and workflow with fast, easy, affordable and secure solutions to share documents, automate processes and get work done. With delivery in days and at a fraction of the cost, customers choose SpringCM to avoid the expense, complexity and risks of traditional ECM software.