Time to Move Up a Gear

Is your ECM solution stuck in 2005?

Many organizations deploy enterprise content management (ECM) solutions with the best of intentions—to digitize all their content, automate their processes, eliminate silos of information and provide access to all. However, the reality is that for most, the initial deployment and training associated with an ECM project is about as far as they get.

That leaves an organization with little more than a simple scan, store and retrieve solution—useful, but not really making the most of the supercharged ECM platform that the CIO purchased. So what can organizations do to move forward?

Start by visualizing your ECM solution as a sports car. Now imagine just driving that car in first gear. In many ECM deployments that is exactly what is happening. I challenge you to make 2015 your year to make the most of the Ferrari of an ECM solution that you have within your organization. Grab the steering wheel and look to the horizon with three simple areas that can have a huge impact on how you work: advanced capture, case management and accessibility. Let’s make 2015 a ride to remember.

Advanced Capture

For far too long, people have focused on capture as the simple scanning of paper-based documents. Well it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee—capture has grown up.

Capture is now a dedicated ECM discipline in its own right, encompassing all things from paper-based scanning, to forms recognition, mobile device awareness and data integration to other applications. Each of these areas delivers massive benefits to the organization, moving it beyond the simple “scan, store, retrieve” capabilities that were available 10 years ago into a truly powerful integrated solution.

Consider one of the hallmarks of automated ECM: document processing in accounts departments. This area has seen significant coverage, with the ability of capture solutions to extract information from incoming invoices, remittances and checks and to reduce the re-keying of information, the processing time and the number of errors generated. While delivering valuable automation, this process can be further improved in a number of ways.

Once the information is captured, it is important to verify each piece of information is correct to ensure business decisions are made with the most accurate information. For instance, many invoices have an associated purchase order (PO), and matching the details on the incoming invoice to the original PO can be achieved by integrating the processes and relevant systems. Moreover, an advanced capture solution should be able to automatically perform math or apply your certain business rules to further validate the information lifted from the invoice while reducing human intervention. Indeed, this process could even go as far as auto-approving incoming invoices for payment, should the invoice perfectly match the PO and be set up for pre-approval—leaving only those invoices with exceptions needing human interaction.

It is critical that these invoices are captured wherever they enter your organization to quickly push them into these advanced capture processes. Your ECM solution should be able to ingest the invoices from individual scanners, large mailrooms, mobile devices, and even remote offices—to make sure your organization spends the least amount of time and money transporting the invoices and getting them into your system for processing.

This assumes, of course, that the paper invoice has arrived via the mail. As many invoices now arrive via email, your ECM solution should also be seamlessly integrated with your email application to enable stress-free movement throughout the capture-to-approval process.

In short, capture can become much more than just the digitization of content; it can play a large part in many critical business areas. As the starting point for many of your core business processes, if done well, capture can be the primary driver of rapid return on investment from any ECM solution.

Case Management

Gone are the days when an ECM solution simply stored documents. Today content is king within organizations—but more importantly, that content includes data and documents. The combination of content, data and process forms the basis of effective case management.

The business user understands the need to merge the data-led scenarios in their organization (the sort of jobs that typically depend on scattered Excel spreadsheets or custom-built applications) with their supporting unstructured content (items such as documents, emails and so on). The tools to marry this information together can be built using the same key technologies that ECM brings to the table, delivering huge benefits to the business and end user alike. Yet the creation of these tools needs to be done carefully.

By their very nature, “cases” typically include structured information (like policy, client or vendor data) and unstructured information (like contracts or policies, evidence, notes and e-mail). In fact, according to AIIM’s latest research, for 67% of organizations polled, half or more of their main business processes involve connecting content—in many formats and from various channels—to one managed process.1 While BPM-based applications and point solutions can handle structured data and manage business processes, they often struggle to manage content like documents and communications.

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