Enterprise Content Management Software: How to Choose the Right ECM
November 13, 2023
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As businesses grow and expand, so does the data and content they need to update and manage. For a large company, such as an international enterprise with thousands of clients and employees, efficient content management is a daunting logistical challenge.
This is where enterprise content management software becomes a must-have solution.
ECM software is crucial in helping enterprises manage and organize their content, with uses and applications ranging from accounts payable and client services to staffing and recruitment. It creates secure, searchable, centralized storage for company files and data, empowering enterprises to operate more efficiently.
In addition to providing enterprises with centralized systems for content and document management, ECM software also offers additional benefits. For instance, it can lower costs, eliminate reliance on paper, provide insights that drive better decision-making, and make collaborating more manageable for your teams.
The caveat for enterprises is that not all ECM software offers the same features or capabilities, making choosing a platform that aligns with your organization’s goals and requirements vital. This comprehensive guide will help you make the best decision by showing you:
- The definition and purpose of enterprise content management
- What ECM software is and how it works
- How ECM software differs from a document management system (DMS)
- Key benefits and advantages of implementing an ECM system
- Features to look for and factors to consider when choosing ECM software for your enterprise
What is enterprise content management (ECM)?
Enterprise content management (ECM) is a set of processes, tools, and strategies that enable organizations to collect, manage, and organize content.
ECM encompasses a range of activities, including capturing, storing, retrieving, and sharing content throughout all stages of its lifecycle.
ECM software can capture, store, and retrieve both structured and unstructured data, such as:
- Documents and files
- Emails and internal messaging
- Videos and audio files
- Multimedia graphics
- Applications and websites
The core purpose of ECM is to ensure that company information is easily accessible, conveniently organized, and secure against cyber threats.
By providing a centralized hub for content management and organization, ECM can help your enterprise achieve the following:
- Streamline your business processes and simplify workflows
- Digitize your files and reduce your dependence on outdated paper systems
- Improve your efficiency by making data easily retrievable
- Facilitate and increase collaboration between employees
- Reduce your costs while enhancing productivity
ECM also helps your enterprise make better business decisions by empowering your team members with on-demand access to accurate, up-to-date information.
In short, ECM is a critical process for managing an organization’s entire life-cycle of information. By implementing an ECM system, you can optimize content management processes, improve organization-wide productivity, and drive overall business success.
ECM software, which we’ll explore next, is a tool that enables organizations to preserve, sort, and retrieve documents and other digital assets. Using ECM software ensures that company information is readily accessible to authorized users—and that it’s never at risk of going missing like paper documents.
Let’s take a closer look at what ECM software does and how it works.
What is enterprise content management software?
Enterprise content management software is designed to help large organizations manage their content more effectively. It provides a centralized platform for storing, managing, and sharing content across the organization.
ECM software varies but typically includes a wide range of features. These features include document management, workflow management, records management, business process automation, collaboration tools, and more.
These and other features of ECM software are designed to help organizations streamline their content management processes, which improves productivity and empowers the business to tackle its biggest priorities.
When choosing ECM software, it is essential to look for key features such as document management, workflow management, collaboration tools, and robust security features.
By choosing the right ECM system, large businesses can streamline their content management processes and eliminate costly inefficiencies.
How ECM software works
ECM software provides an all-in-one platform for managing diverse types of content on a large scale. The software system captures content from various sources and stores it in a centralized repository. The content is then organized and classified based on metadata, making it easy for your team members to find it when needed.
ECM software includes many features to make managing and distributing information easier for large companies.
Here are two examples of how that works in practice:
- Workflow management features allow organizations to automate business processes and streamline their content approval processes
- Record management features help organizations comply with regulatory requirements and ensure that content is retained for the appropriate amount of time (such as tax records or safety-related documentation)
3 types of ECM systems: collaborative (CCM), transactional (TCM), and web (WCM)
Collaborative content management systems
Collaborative content management (CCM) is focused on enabling multiple team members to view and edit the same file, which helps keep stakeholders, employees, and project managers on the same page.
Some benefits of CCM include:
- Increasing the speed of content creation
- Minimizing errors or discrepancies across versions of documents
- Making it easier for groups to coordinate with each other and avoid duplicative tasks
Transactional content management systems
Transactional content management (TCM) is an approach to organizing content that deals with purchase orders, invoices, and other documentation related to transactions with your partners, vendors, or clients.
A common example of transactional content is a transactional email, like an automatic order confirmation message sent to a customer.
Web content management systems
Gartner defines web content management (WCM) as “the process of controlling content consumed over one or more digital channels…[which] is achieved through the use of specific management solutions based on a core repository.”
Some common features of WCM systems include the ability to:
- Create content
- Set permissions
- Manage workflows
- Integrate with other apps and platforms
Enterprise content management (ECM) vs. document management system (DMS)
Enterprise content management systems are sometimes discussed interchangeably with document management systems (DMSs). However, while they share a few similarities, a DMS is not the same as ECM software.
It’s critical for enterprises to understand these distinctions so that they can make informed decisions about what types of systems to implement.
A DMS, like ECM software, is used to manage documents electronically. However, document management systems are chiefly designed to manage structured data and information. By comparison, ECM software can capture and manage all types of content, including unstructured information.
Examples of structured data include PDF files, Word documents, image files, Excel spreadsheets, and other documents. Unstructured data, on the other hand, is any digital content or information being stored on your computer system. Some common examples of unstructured data include apps, websites, and multimedia graphics.
As technology becomes more sophisticated—and the boundaries between types of content blur—companies have a growing need for the ability to manage and organize unstructured data effectively.
While document management systems are mainly designed to facilitate the organization and analysis of documents, ECM systems go one step further by giving you more flexibility and control. For example, you can use ECM software to automate workflows, manage web content, and even promote greater collaboration between team members.
Put simply, ECM software enables enterprises to take a comprehensive and holistic approach to content management. Let’s examine some of the main benefits of using ECM software.
8 benefits of ECM software systems
Content management software offers a wide range of benefits—especially for enterprises, which, due to their size, need robust and scalable systems capable of handling large volumes of unstructured data.
By implementing an ECM system, you can:
- Increase productivity and efficiency by making information easier to locate
- Lower costs by digitizing records and embracing automation
- Gain insights that empower you to make strategic business decisions
- Secure information against threats while simultaneously improving regulatory compliance
- Free up more bandwidth for employees and save time on tedious manual tasks by automating and streamlining workflows
- Facilitate communication, correspondence, and collaboration between departments and team members
- Create a centralized, convenient hub where all of your content can be stored, searched, and accessed
- Improve the customer experience your enterprise delivers
Let’s explore how ECM software can provide each of these benefits to your large business.
Improved productivity and efficiency
ECM software systems can help organizations improve productivity by streamlining the content management processes. By using a centralized hub where all content can be stored and accessed, organizations can reduce the time spent searching for information.
ECM software also enables businesses to automate manual tasks, which improves overall efficiency. For example, businesses can save effort and resources with features like automated workflows and document routing, allowing employees to focus on more essential activities.
By digitizing their content and providing easy access to information, enterprises can help employees find what they need quickly, collaborate more effectively, and complete tasks in less time. This boost in efficiency and productivity translates to cost savings for your organization.
ECM software systems can help organizations reduce costs by eliminating the need for paper-based processes.
By digitizing content and automating business processes, organizations can decrease the cost of managing content—and boost bottom-line revenue.
Enterprise content management software systems provide organizations access to accurate and timely information.
This empowers your enterprise to make proactive, strategic decisions driven by up-to-the-moment data.
Enhanced security and compliance
Compliance with various regulations and standards is critical for many enterprise businesses. For example, compliance training is particularly important for organizations handling sensitive customer data or operating in regulated industries such as banking, insurance, or healthcare.
ECM software offers robust security features to protect sensitive information and ensure compliance with industry regulations. For example, ECM software should provide secure storage, access controls, encryption, and audit trails, which reduce the risk of data breaches and unauthorized access to data.
These features ensure that information is properly managed and can be easily retrieved for legal or regulatory purposes. It also helps your business meet industry regulations and safeguards against potential risks and liability.
Say goodbye to manually photocopying files, distributing forms, or copying information from one database or spreadsheet to another. With the digital infrastructure of an ECM, managing data and documents becomes effortless and instantaneous.
Workflow automation is a key feature of ECM software that helps optimize and streamline business processes. It eliminates manual tasks, reduces errors, and ensures consistency in document handling.
Automated workflows enable documents to be routed to the right individuals for review, approval, or collaboration. This improves overall efficiency by reducing bottlenecks.
Increased collaboration and communication
ECM software encourages collaboration by providing a centralized platform where teams can create, share, and collaborate on content. It enables real-time document co-authoring, editing, version control, and commenting, ensuring all team members can access the latest information and conversations.
This improves communication, fosters better teamwork, and enhances decision-making among team members regardless of their physical location.
Centralized content repository
An ECM system is a centralized repository for your organization’s digital assets and content, eliminating the need for scattered, hard-to-locate files and folders.
It provides your enterprise with a structured digital framework for organizing and categorizing content, which makes it faster and easier for employees, customers, and regulators to find the information they need.
Centralizing your data in one searchable, organized hub improves data management, reduces duplication, and enhances overall data integrity.
Happier, more satisfied customers
ECM software enables businesses to provide better customer service by ensuring that information is readily available to support customer inquiries and requests.
With advanced search capabilities and personalized content delivery, businesses can deliver relevant and timely information, enhancing the overall customer experience.
Features to look for and factors to consider when choosing an ECM system
Every enterprise has unique priorities—not to mention different budgets. By keeping your organization’s specific needs and requirements in mind, you can choose an ECM software system that aligns with your mission and supports your organizational goals.
So, what factors should you consider when comparing ECM software options? Scalability, pricing, user-friendliness, and mobile accessibility are just a few examples we’ll cover below.
Along with basic considerations like pricing and user-friendliness, there are also some technical features and capabilities to look for in ECM software. Some examples include automated workflows, search and retrieval capabilities, and tools that make collaborating easier for your team members.
Here are 12 factors to consider and features of ECM software to look for:
- Document management features
- Workflow management features
- Collaboration tools and features
- Integration capabilities
- Scalability and flexibility
- User-friendliness and intuitive design
- Easy access to stored documentation
- Ability to archive and delete content
- Privacy and security features
- Mobile accessibility
- Helpful customer support
- Your business goals and requirements
Document management features
Document management features allow organizations to store, manage, and share documents in a centralized repository.
Look for features such as:
- Version control
- Document check-in and check-out
- Document workflow management
For example, version control allows users to access documents at various revision or update stages, enabling even large teams to stay in sync when editing content.
The Learning Cloud from WorkRamp lets you store, organize, and access your documents in a secure digital repository. You can also use the Learning Cloud to create custom content, such as employee training content or tutorials for new customers.
Workflow management features
Workflow management features allow organizations to automate business processes and streamline content approval processes.
Look for features such as:
- Task assignment capabilities
- Approval workflows
The Learning Cloud lets you automate assignments, making managing certifications, compliance, or other training needs simple. The Learning Cloud also integrates with Workday, BambooHR, and other platforms to help you automate employee onboarding and compliance.
Collaboration tools and features
Collaboration features are essential for effective content management.
The ECM software you choose should provide features that facilitate collaboration, such as:
- Shared workspaces and team workspaces
- Version control
- Document co-authoring
- File sharing
- Commenting capabilities
Tools for synchronous collaboration allow multiple users to work on the same document simultaneously. Version control features are also crucial because they ensure that the most up-to-date version of a document is accessible and prevent conflicting edits.
Seamless integration enables the efficient exchange of information between apps and enhances your team’s overall productivity. Integration capabilities are essential for supporting smooth workflows and enabling collaboration.
The ECM software you select should have the ability to integrate with numerous types of business applications, including:
- Customer relationship management (CRM) systems
- Enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems
- Document creation tools
These features allow for the easy exchange of information while eliminating the need for manual data entry and the risk of duplication.
WorkRamp integrates with Salesforce, Zendesk, Google Analytics, BambooHR, Slack, Zoom, and numerous other platforms and apps for scheduling, HR, sales, and content management. For additional examples, view the complete list of WorkRamp integrations.
5. Scalability and flexibility
Select an ECM software solution that can meet your current needs, grow with your organization, and adapt to your future requirements.
Consider the scalability and flexibility of the software, including its ability to handle increasing document volumes and support new technologies.
6. User-friendliness and intuitive design
A slow-to-load, glitchy, or overly complicated interface will discourage users from engaging with the software and decrease efficiency. Therefore, it’s important to consider the practicality and usability of any software you’re considering.
Look for software options that feature a user-friendly interface, make navigating easy, and require minimal training for new and first-time users. Ask yourself questions like, is the platform intuitive? Easy to understand? Fast to load large files and video content?
With its clean layout, simple navigation and editing tools, and polished, professional graphics, WorkRamp is designed to deliver an enjoyable, engaging experience for learners and admins alike.
Easy access to stored documentation
It’s important to keep your data secure against hackers and other threats—but it’s equally important for authorized users to have access when they need it. That’s why you should look for an ECM software system that allows you to create custom employee permissions and edit permission levels.
WorkRamp’s secure LMS lets you manage custom permissions and role-based access controls (RBAC). With the Learning Cloud, you can define roles, set a hierarchy, create sharing options, restrict access to content, and more.
Ability to archive and delete content
Some content can be refreshed or repurposed, but some must be removed or retired at the end of its lifecycle. Otherwise, it becomes digital clutter, taking up space in your system.
Therefore, choosing an enterprise content management platform that allows you to archive and delete data or files that are no longer useful to your organization is important.
Privacy and security features
Data security is a critical element of enterprise content management software. The system you choose should provide advanced security features to protect sensitive information against data breaches, unauthorized access, and other cybersecurity threats.
For example, WorkRamp uses 256-bit AES encryption and other advanced features to secure data.
When comparing ECMS options, look for security features such as:
- Role-based access control (RBAC)
- 256-bit AES encryption (on transfer and at rest)
- Compliance with industry regulations, such as GDPR or CCPA
- Compatibility with SAML and SCIM SSO protocols
- Audit trails
In today’s workforce, where roughly 16 percent of companies worldwide have shifted to a remote model, ECM software must provide mobile access capabilities. That’s why we designed the Learning Cloud to be mobile-friendly, optimizing on-the-go learning and productivity.
This enables employees to access, edit, and collaborate on documents from anywhere in the world using any device, including smartphones, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers.
This ensures that all your team members can maintain momentum, feel included, and stay connected—even when physically distant.
Helpful customer support
It’s a good idea to research the reputation and track record of each ECM software vendor you’re considering.
Think about factors such as customer reviews and industry recognition they’ve received, along with the types of customer support services they can provide. For instance, will a self-service help center meet your organization’s needs, or do you prefer to have access to live customer support?
A reliable vendor with a strong customer support system can ensure a smooth implementation and provide dependable, ongoing assistance when needed. WorkRamp is committed to providing exceptional service and support for our valued customers and partners, and our expert team is always here to help answer your questions.
Your business goals and requirements
Identify your organization’s content management needs and prioritize the features supporting your goals, like streamlining your recruiting process or creating an online customer portal.
Consider factors such as:
- The overall volume of data and documents you need to manage
- The amount of interdepartmental collaboration or communication that needs to occur
- The laws and regulations your enterprise needs to comply with
- Your existing tech stack, which any new software must integrate with
- Pricing and budgetary constraints
The bottom line is that implementing an ECM system can lead to numerous benefits for your enterprise, including increased productivity, enhanced security and compliance, streamlined workflows, and improved collaboration—not to mention the convenience (and peace of mind) of having a centralized content repository.
However, choosing the right ECM software is essential to optimize these benefits.
Enterprise businesses can identify an ECM solution that meets their needs by carefully weighing the factors outlined above, such as scalability, integrations, data security, and collaboration features.
The future of enterprise content management: ECM + LMS
The Learning Cloud combines the flexibility of an enterprise content management system with the power of a learning management system, providing your organization with an all-in-one solution for capturing, storing, organizing, creating, distributing, and revising content.
With enterprise-grade security features, a mobile-friendly design, unparalleled customization options, and time-saving automations, WorkRamp’s Enterprise LMS is the platform for your employee and customer learning needs.
Discover how WorkRamp can help you drive productivity, empower employees, and help your customers excel. Contact us to schedule a free, personalized demo.
Complete the form for a custom demo.
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