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How to Choose an ECM System (Part One)

One of the most critical decisions an organization can make toward its digitization efforts is selecting an ECM system. Prioritizing your organization’s specific needs and goals when selecting will help you get the most out of your solution. A thorough evaluation process can help you find the right system that aligns with your business objectives and facilitates efficient content management.

Budgeting, storage, and organizational goals must be considered

Proper budgeting is essential when choosing the right ECM platform, as there are costs that people need to consider. Calculating the total cost of ownership (TCO) is a great place to start. For a cloud solution, the ongoing maintenance is taken care of for you, along with the hardware component of the initial setup. This makes SaaS solutions compelling to those looking for more price stability. Another consideration is the backfile conversion. You will need to capture previous records not stored in the system. Some organizations use a day-forward approach and don’t put legacy records in their new ECM. Other organizations do their own backfile. Still, others use a professional firm to do the backfile for them.

Document type and volume are vital to determining the amount of storage you’ll need. Invoices, for example, are significantly smaller documents than most contracts, meaning they take up far less digital space. Document volume also plays into this, approximately multiplying the storage requirement by the number of pages of each document.

Your strategic functional goals can affect the potential features you may want to consider. If you’re looking to streamline your AP department, the ability to create customized approval workflows would be highly beneficial. Suppose your goal is to store contracts, on the other hand. In that case, version control and metadata capture will aid significantly in helping to differentiate the terms of a contract throughout its lifecycle.

If you’re looking to automate document capture, both document type and volume (amount) also play heavily into your capture strategy. This is because some documents need to be referenced more frequently than others, have easy ways of validating information, or can be more difficult for OCR programs to read. On the other hand, volume affects the quality assurance of a capture strategy and the amount of information from the document you wish to capture.

UX (User Experience) is critical

Naturally, if people within your organization work within an enterprise content management system regularly, you’ll want the experience to be pleasant, intuitive, and frustration-free. Solutions with a user-friendly interface significantly increase their adoption rate and create less friction between the software and those trying to learn it. Many ECM vendors purpose-build their systems for specific roles and/or industries. Finding this information should be part of your discovery process.

Trust me when I tell you that if a system is complicated, It won’t be used. Many a legacy ECM system that IT has loved has been ripped out for a better model with an intuitive GUI.

Another piece to consider in your ECM selection criteria for UX is the degree of product training and support the provider offers. Getting fast answers to potential issues and having the resources available to learn some of the more advanced features of your solution will avoid frustrations and help you get the most out of your investment. Some ECM vendor partners offer unlimited training. Training on tech products is always a worthy investment.

Stay tuned for next week’s post, where we’ll cover compliance, selecting key features, and how to determine if the system can be future-proofed.



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