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Six Ways ECM Can Work for Your Business

The University of California Berkeley School of Information Management and Systems estimates unstructured content, such as spreadsheets, contracts, CAD drawings, digital assets and records, has doubled in the last three years. As a result, the challenge of managing and effectively leveraging this tremendous volume of content across an enterprise continues to grow.

Following are six areas in which an enterprise content management (ECM) system can support and enhance an enterprise: compliance and records management; multi-site Web content management; ECM consolidation; partner and customer extranets; marketing brand management and digital archiving; and streamlined financial processes.

Compliance and Records Management

Companies are faced with two main types of compliance: regulatory mandates—such as HIPAA, FDA and ISO—and financial reporting—such as Sarbanes-Oxley. Tackling compliance challenges in a comprehensive approach results in a focused enterprise risk management strategy and significant operational efficiencies.

Content management offers functionality to address these business requirements, providing the infrastructure to support compliance as well as the applications for managing compliance. Specific content management components that support compliance efforts include: document management, BPM and workflow, reporting and analysis and records management. Document management enables organizations to easily capture, secure, share, distribute, archive and dispose of digital and paper-based documents and reports via the Web, helping them reduce risk and lower costs associated with legal and compliance processes. Stellent also provides a DoD 5015.2 Chapter 2- and 4-certified system for streamlining the processes of creating, declaring, classifying, retaining and destroying business records—turning records-based activities into ongoing processes conveniently and inherently carried out during the normal course of business.

Robust e-mail management capabilities make it easier for users to seamlessly declare e-mail messages and attachments as records.

Case in point: Reliant Energy, Inc., a provider of electricity and energy services, has streamlined its Sarbanes-Oxley compliance processes by using the Stellent Sarbanes-Oxley Solution to centrally manage documentation and smooth its attestation process. Specifically, the Stellent solution provides Reliant's core compliance team with an enterprise-wide view of the company's internal control makeup, allowing the core team to track control changes and monitor remediation action plans based upon the remediation priority.

Multi-Site Web Content Management

The multi-site Web content management problem is growing. Companies are challenged with creating multi-lingual Web sites; building customer and partner extranets; and developing infrastructures for intranets and portals. Combined, these initiatives create the need to manage hundreds—sometimes thousands—of Web sites.

Examples of critical content management capabilities that support effective multi-site management include: Web content management, digital asset management and document management.

Specifically, Web content management enables organizations to easily create and maintain accurate, timely Web sites—such as intranets, extranets and public Web sites—while ensuring each site complies with corporate requirements and standards. Unique to Stellent's Web content management suite is its Stellent Site Studio application, which allows companies to maintain a desired degree of centralized control over the architecture and presentation of Web sites, while distributing content ownership and site management to each business unit, franchise or geographic location. Site Studio also helps companies create libraries of Web site components, which are then available to users when building their own sites. A single piece of content can be pushed out to multiple sites, making site updates easier and content accurate.

In addition, digital asset management allows organizations to easily manage, share, optimize and re-use corporate digital assets—such as branding graphics and images—and publish these assets onto their various Web sites. Only authorized users have the ability to contribute, update and access specific content.

Case in point: Genzyme Corp., a global biotechnology company, leverages content management technology to ensure its more than 20 unique Web sites are on-brand and encompass Genzyme's businesses, products and geographies. According to META Group, this initiative enabled Genzyme to reap a return-on-investment (ROI) of approximately $3.8 million by the end of 2004 due to the increased efficiencies of creating uniform and branded Web sites, improved employee productivity and reduced costs to launch new sites.

ECM Consolidation

A number of companies use disparate products from multiple vendors to meet their various content management needs, which can result in unnecessarily complex implementations, and high integration, support and maintenance costs. To fully maximize content management investments, customers must implement a solution that provides a standard infrastructure and best practices for all content management applications across its enterprise. By consolidating all content-related applications into a single architecture, companies can reduce the cost of separate, disparate content management systems. These solutions enable customers to easily deploy multiple line-of-business applications and enterprise-wide content management initiatives.

Partner and Customer Extranets

Many companies provide large volumes of timely and personalized information to external partners and customers. The creation and distribution of this content is often a time-intensive and costly process. By distributing content to these audiences via a secure extranet, companies eliminate substantial shipping, e-mail and printing costs; re-use and publish content from other sources; and provide project and collaboration "workspaces."

Key content management components that power partner and customer extranets are Web content management, document management and collaboration. These solutions allow organizations to easily manage partner- and customer-related content—including content approvals and automatic conversion and publication—through an easy-to-use, browser-based interface and consistently deliver it to partners and customers in a secure, personalized fashion through an extranet.

Case in point: Emerson Process Management, a global leader in helping businesses automate production, processing and distribution practices, deployed a number of extranets in just 15 days to provide global suppliers with Web-based access to more than 800 manufacturing procedures and product drawings. Emerson estimates it saves approximately $20,000 per supplier per year by automating manual processes.

Marketing Brand Management and Digital Archiving

The amount of images and brand assets created and utilized by corporations continues to grow. In order to realize the full value of this content, organizations need to make images and brand assets available enterprise-wide via a Web browser; maintain control over the size and quality of images to comply with brand standards; easily and securely share images and brand assets with outside agencies and other e-business applications; and provide Web-based access to training videos.

Digital asset management and video/image management are content management components which enable organizations to quickly and easily access, manage, share, optimize and re-use corporate digital assets. For example, the system can automatically convert image files from a single source into a variety of formats and sizes, optimizing images for various types of consumption, such as PowerPoint presentations and Web sites, while managing all of the renditions as a single object. The technology also automatically converts large audio visual interleaved (AVI) files into smaller, lower-resolution MPEG files for use on Web sites, and includes the ability to drill down into particular scenes in a video using storyboards.

Streamlined Financial Processes

Many organizations use manual financial processes that lack efficiency and accuracy. To improve this situation, companies must automate financial processes to increase capacity, integrate with enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, enhance auditing and controls, expedite exception processing and enable continuous process change and improvement.

Capture technology allows organizations to efficiently, cost-effectively turn all paper-based financial documents and reports—such as purchase orders, claims and invoices—into electronic images, which can be easily stored and retrieved. Business process management (BPM) capabilities connect all enterprise systems in order to efficiently manage an organization's entire financial process. This integration enables the automatic routing and management of transaction information, which streamlines work steps and improves communication between all parties involved in financial processes.

Comprehensive tools for document search and retrieval within ERP systems enable users to easily, intuitively move between financial content in ERP systems and content. Additionally, records management capabilities streamline the processes of creating, declaring, classifying, retaining and destroying financial records.


As the types and volumes of content continue to increase across organizations, the applications of enterprise content management also are expanding and evolving. Today, six of the most vital uses of ECM include compliance and records management; multi-site Web content management; ECM consolidation; partner and customer extranets; marketing brand management and digital archiving; and streamlined financials. And, there are many more business initiatives that technology can successfully power. Content management can generate significant, rapid ROI for customers and help ensure a low total cost of ownership.

Stellent, Inc. is a global provider of content management software solutions that drive rapid success for customers by enabling fast implementations and generating quick, broad user adoption. With Stellent, customers can easily deploy multiple line-of-business applications—such as Web sites, call centers, dealer extranets, compliance initiatives, accounts payable imaging and claims processing—and also scale the technology to support enterprise-wide content management needs.

Stellent has more than 3,500 customers, is headquartered in Eden Prairie, MN, and maintains offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

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