KMWorld 2024 Is Nov. 18-21 in Washington, DC. Register now for Super Early Bird Savings!

  • February 15, 2011
  • By Erin McCart Director of Product Marketing, ASG Software Solutions
  • Article

Effective Management of Enterprise Content

The discipline of enterprise content management (ECM) has undergone considerable changes since its inception. Arguably, we can trace ECM back to electronic document management (EDM) and imaging. The concept was to apply paper-based records management policies and procedures to the administration of electronic documents. This was especially important for organizations in highly regulated industries such as banking, insurance and manufacturing. These organizations needed to control the creation, output and storage of their electronic documents such as customer invoices, audit reports and standard operating procedures in order to provide verifiable compliance with corporate policies and government regulations. The need for this type of content management is still as strong today as it was in the early 1990s—if not stronger—due to increased government regulations and more stringent corporate policies.

As content management systems evolved, vendors added new modules to manage more content types and the “information lifecycle”—frequently via acquired technologies. The good news: An organization was better positioned to manage many different types of content and have some level of content integration. The bad news: No one vendor could manage all content types and business processes effectively. This is still true today. In recent years, we’ve observed a flood of mergers/acquisitions, and vendors are struggling to integrate newly acquired content management technologies with their in-house-developed and/or previously acquired systems. To compound the issue, the level of integration between content management modules, for example, document management and Web content management, can be daunting—different architectures, user interfaces, content repositories, workflows, etc.

Most content management vendors are chosen for their software’s ability to solve the toughest business challenges, and not because the technology can do everything well. During the past five years, we’ve been convinced by vendors, analysts and independent research organizations to believe we need an all-encompassing, über-enterprise content management system. In theory, this makes sense—one system to manage all content within an organization. The reality is that many organizations who’ve tried to implement such a system have failed—it was simply too complex, too disruptive to the business and too expensive.

Mission-Specific Content Management
Due to failed enterprise content management implementations, increased government scrutiny, better enforced information governance rules and “at-risk” departments needing effective content management immediately, we are observing a change in direction with regard to content management technology and positioning. The good news: There are high-quality, mission-specific content management/business process systems that provide document and records management, Web content management, email archiving, information governance, social media content management, enterprise storage and archiving management, etc. Even better news: There are a few select vendors that have developed sophisticated total content integration systems that do not force organizations to replace their best-of-breed content management solutions or purchase an über-enterprise content management system. And, the best news: There is an effective total content integration system that is technology agnostic, i.e., it does not matter what type of system (distributed and/or mainframe) on which the content resides—nor does it matter if the content is structured (utility bills, ATM receipts, system reports) or unstructured (text documents, still images, video files). All content is treated equally, stored in a repository of record and available to anyone with the appropriate security permissions—throughout the enterprise.

Therefore, if you are in need of a content management system or are adding functionality to an existing system, don’t fall into “the one-size fits all” ECM trap. The first step is to identify your current and future content management requirements and select the best solution(s) to quickly address and resolve them. Most mission-specific content management solutions fall under one of these categories1:

  • Infrastructure content management—the management, storage and archiving of all enterprise documents, email, corporate records, etc. to ensure corporate and regulatory compliance—a repository of record.
  • Transaction-based content management—the management of structured content produced by applications, such as bank transactions.
  • Web content management—the management of content associated with websites and the websites themselves.
  • Social/online channel content management—the management of instant communications such as text messages (Web or phone), blog postings, chat rooms.

Total Content Integration
Once you have a content management system in place and it is resolving your immediate business needs, the next step is to integrate the silos of content in your organization via a total content integration system. For example, if you are using Microsoft SharePoint for infrastructure content management, Business Documents’ Bdoc Suite to facilitate custom communications, SAP ERP Financials for accounts payable and receivables and ASG-Mobius ViewDirect for enterprise storage and archiving, you potentially have four separate silos of content that very likely have relationships to one another.

There are two fundamental ways to integrate content. The first approach uses a single, integrated content repository. The second provides a federated and consolidated view of content from multiple, disparate repositories. The best method for a given organization depends on the number of repositories currently in use, the willingness to undertake conversions (and assume the risks associated therein) and the importance of speed in solution deployment.

To have a single integrated repository, it must be scalable, secure and searchable—but most importantly, it must process a wide variety of content types, including:

  • Mission- and operations-critical documents produced by enterprise applications, including accounting systems, billing systems, inventory and materials management applications and more. These come in many formats, including text, XML, HTML, PostScript, PCL, IBM AFP, Xerox DJDE/Metacode and PDF;
  • Corporate records in any format; business-critical documents produced using desktop software, such as word processing; spreadsheets; email presentation tools; and internal, application-specific programs;
  • Images of scanned documents, such as checks, as well as photos and other images captured as part of business processes or workflow applications;
  • Rich media, such as digital audio and video;
  • High-volume transaction data from enterprise systems; and
  • Business objects necessary for business process management.

Implementing a single system for all content and records management reduces IT and business unit costs, minimizes training requirements and improves customer service and operational efficiency. But the risks associated with converting content for a specific platform can be high and may not be feasible for organizations with very large amounts of diverse content types. The alternative is a solution that consolidates multiple content repositories on/from different platforms.

KMWorld Covers
for qualified subscribers
Subscribe Now Current Issue Past Issues