29. August 2016
10 advantages thanks to Enterprise Content Management
Ever noticed that everyone is talking about the digital revolution but most offices have yet to adopt an approach? German offices are still dominated by massive filing cabinets, paper storage and even Rolodex when in doubt. Bosses boast about having a digital strategy in place if their companies have introduced a CRM system and a joint calendar. But do these measures really bring significant benefits? The “digital strategy” here is expressed by an overflowing email inbox with meeting requests, files in various different versions and documents for release. Some companies have even put time restrictions on email traffic for employees in order to relieve them of this flood of communication after they leave the office.
Here we highlight 10 advantages thanks to Enterprise Content Management:
1. More space in the office by removing superfluous filing cabinets.
Do you too always bang against those old filing cabinets from the 1970s whenever you get up off your office chair? Doesn’t have to be so. Digitalise your archive and throw out the filing cabinets. Or maybe the trainee can flog the stuff at the next retro flee market. In Berlin, he’s sure to get the best prices for the company’s next summer party.
2. Let you control the software and not the other way around.
What applies to filing cabinets from the 1970s is also often relevant for the interface of company software: Confusing and all over the place! At best you get your fingers caught or you scream out loud in frustration when yet again things go awry. A feeling only ever experienced otherwise when assembling furniture from Sweden. Modern ECM software supports you in your daily work and high acceptance is the result. Among managers and employees.
3. Digital application is simply faster.
Do you still travel to work by horse-drawn carriage? Of course you don’t. You take the car or, if you are really environmentally conscious, you use public transport. Even that’s faster than a horse-drawn carriage. You can apply the same logic to the office. It is simply no longer the done thing to send files from one department to the next or to move mail from the mail room to the department where the recipient is based. Quite simply, incoming analogue documents should be scanned and digitalised in the mail room (or in the office). Enterprise Content Management quickly learns to recognise suppliers automatically and stores invoices, delivery notes and quotes in the corresponding group automatically.
4. Why should you remember if an ECM system can do it for you?
Be honest. Shouldn’t computers make our lives easier? When it comes to legal compliance, there is still plenty of room for improvement. Many documents must be retained for a certain length of time. Similarly, others must be deleted after a certain period of time. To avoid missing these deadlines, you must take note of them for every document or invoice, or enter them individually in the calendar. In an ECM system, documents automatically receive a corresponding due date or expiry date, and are retained for this period only and then deleted. Just as the legislature wants it.
5. Yes, you can send documents by email. But does it make sense?
Would you like to provide a potential customer with a quote or a price list? Going forward, you’ll no longer have to send documents by email. How come? ECM renders this unnecessary. You can use a secure web link to share a document with no effort required. Of course, you can still use email. This can be protected by a password or provided with an expiry date (e.g. for a quote). If you update your price list and the potential customer then clicks the link, the latest version is displayed for them.
6. New things are not so bad. Especially when they are just like the old ones.
Most people are initially sceptical about change. “We’ve never done it like that…” is a phrase you’ll often hear to pronounce innovations dead. Even before they’ve had a chance to live. It’s great when innovations are not met with fear and trepidation. Employees can use digital stamps and comments in automated business processes. Almost like the “old” world. Affix a stamp for approval to documents as usual, attach a Post-it or drive colleagues crazy with illegible handwriting. Just like before. But now digitally!
7. Access to required documents at all times. Even when on the road.
Many large IT firms have long since adopted the philosophy that employees no longer have their own fixed workspace, but can work from any location at any time. Okay, so maybe not to that extent but you get the basic idea: From home or when on the road, employees can access their daily working environment with the notebook and work away as usual. And even if you don’t have your notebook, a modern ECM also offers a mobile interface for all modern browsers.
8. The paperless office saves the environment. Is that really an advantage?
Of course it is! Even if we all don’t wear Birkenstock sandals and turn vegan. The claim that an Enterprise Content Management solution protects the environment is not greenwashing. The paperless office affords many benefits and actually saves resources, even if paper does in fact come from a renewable raw material. However, paper manufacture consumes large amounts of water and energy, and of course printing also involves chemistry and energy. A digital document is therefore much more friendly to the environment and to resources than an analogue version.
9. Finally you get to see what’s in a file before you open it.
Are you tired of clicking through network drives and opening up the wrong file as you search for the relevant document? You could say that a document is just like a Kinder egg. You shake it and hope to know what’s inside. However, you usually end up disappointed. Now imagine being able to look inside a Kinder egg before you open it! Crazy! Admittedly, not the best comparison but there are some similarities when searching files. A comprehensive file preview gives you a glimpse of the document even before you’ve opened it. You can even scroll through several pages and then decide whether you want to open the document.
10. Find files based on content and no longer based on name.
“Draft_Mustermann_Version_3_1_2_05042016.doc“, excuse me? You can continue to use such file names in the future but this doesn’t really bother the full-text search function of an Enterprise Content Management solution. Because all that matters here is what’s in the file, not what its name is. Therefore, you can now simply search from any application using a hot key e.g. a customer number. The document is already tagged accordingly thanks to OCR recognition when imported. This way you can find the right document from a selection of millions in a matter of seconds.
What other advantages does ECM provide?
No doubt we’ve forgotten to list some of the advantages provided by an Enterprise Content Management system. Do you know of any other advantages that we have not listed here or are not aware of? We welcome your comments!