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What is enterprise content management?

by Casey Schmidt  |  May 1, 2020

3 min. read
A network mapping digitally.

Imagine a system that organizes your documents, presentations and spreadsheets for easy access. This is the premise of enterprise content management (ECM). Using and understanding this valuable resource is key to boosting success. Here’s a guide to help you understand the entirety of its purpose.

What is enterprise content management?

Enterprise content management (ECM) is a group of stages, techniques and tools to manage a company’s information. This includes storing, sharing, organizing and securing company records and data. Ultimately, ECM allows companies to have total control over their saved and stored information.

Why is it so important?

The ECM platform converts and organizes information digitally to give companies a better grasp of their content. It collectively pools information to provide teams with better access and understanding, which raises their effectiveness. ECM also streamlines workflows to increase business efficiency throughout all types of projects and campaigns. It gives companies, effectively, full control over their data. This includes when a company’s stored data and information is high quantity.

A group of coworkers discussing a poster board.
Enterprise content management increases efficiency.

Think of enterprise content management like a computer system at a library. On its own, the library has hundreds of thousands of books that are sorted based on their title and genre. Though this gives a general understanding of where certain books are located, it doesn’t provide a detailed, organized system capable of instantly knowing important information about a book. Having a computer system with all the books logged lets librarians find out pertinent information immediately, such as if a book has been checked out recently or not. This is just like ECM for companies, where their data is essentially books in a library waiting to be organized.

Three key ECM elements

ECM is made up of basic components which drastically benefit companies. Here are three key elements to consider:

1. Organizing

Before organizing information, the initial steps of this phase include conversion. This conversion involves compiling records, data and information and then making it digital. This is especially helpful for companies with large amounts of historical records and other data. It is the initial process of organizing information into structured formats.

Co-workers examining data on a laptop.
Organizing is the biggest part of ECM.

After converting records to a digital format, the next step becomes organizing and structuring it for the benefit of companies. The most logical way to organize it is in a manner conducive to business workflows.

2. Storing

There are two different ways ECM accomplishes effective data storage. The first is through physical storage of data and information. This occurs within detailed folder structures that ensure users have easy access to all saved data and information. Furthermore, preservation ends up supplementing the storage efforts.

A laptop with drawers coming out of the screen.
ECM offers structured, organized storage.

Not only is information stored – it’s also backed up extensively. This allows users the chance to edit and change any necessary data. It also provides things like company historical records.

3. Retrieval and sharing

Next, companies retrieve their information from the storage using advanced text searches. These searches typically include metadata that helps locate documents. They also involve pinpointing information based on its creation date. Lastly, ECM monitors which users are viewing particular documents and files.

Fast retrieval goes hand-in-hand with sharing. Information requests specifically get a boost by the ability to quickly and efficiently locate files within a system. This type of fast location is essential for modern companies with extensive digital data.

Enterprise content management has numerous processes to boost the company workflows. Make sure you understand its benefits in their entirety. Chances are, implementing an ECM will go over much smoother when done by someone who has done extensive research.