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The Role of ECM in Managing Data Silos




I had a colleague who used to start most conversations in the middle of a paragraph. Confronted with this, coworkers had to play mental catch-up and track the rest of what he was saying. On one occasion, I was “catching up” and stopped him to ask a question. He paused, laughed, and responded,” I don’t understand why you don’t know what I am thinking.”  He was joking, of course.


I share this story because sometimes I wonder if we start blog posts in the middle of a paragraph. “Blah blah bitty blah trusted system.” or “Digital Trends ibble dibble doo.” So, for those who can’t read our collective minds, we will be more aware that some readers are at different levels with their understanding of the World of Enterprise Content Management (Laserfiche). To this end, this post will be about data silos.


A data silo is a collection of structured or unstructured data and content that is only accessible by one system, one technology, or one department within an organization, much like grass and grain in a farm silo are closed off from outside elements. Siloed data is also typically incompatible with the other data sets. As a Laserfiche Partner, we often encounter data silos when working with a legacy ECM system.


However, there was a period when Laserfiche could have been misconstrued as a data silo. This was back when it was known as the City Clerk’s System. Now, functionally, Laserfiche (even then) had enterprise-wide capabilities. However, in many municipalities, the only department using the system was the clerk. The clerk or IT frequently saw the value of the Laserfiche System and encouraged other departments to get on board so that they could enjoy the extended functionality, like automated workflows. Today, everyone is much more educated on non-siloed (enterprise-wide) functionality and how Laserfiche meets these needs.


So, how does Laserfiche meet these needs?


Laserfiche provides a central platform for managing data. It supports the well-organized filing, searching, and sharing of information, helping organizations to break down data/information silos and use their data/information efficiently. This is how it can work. Please note this functionality is not solely the function of technology but is an initiative that equally considers the three pillars: people, process, and technology.


  • Centralization of documents and information. Instead of storing documents in different folders on the server, Laserfiche uses standard criteria and automated classification and indexing. The documents are saved in fully searchable digital files. 

  • Prevention of document loss. As soon as Laserfiche captures a document, it is indexed. This makes it easy to find based on the text content and metadata, such as the document type or expiration date. In addition, the system employs optical character recognition (OCR), which enables scanning of paper documents and searching image files such as PDFs.

  • Version control. Marking documents as "new," "final," or "finalfinalV2.0" is not an effective way of communicating their status. Instead, Laserfiche relies on versioning, whereby all changes to a document are recorded and logged in detail. 

  • Collaboration. The software can be adapted to a company's work processes and map workflows. This makes it possible, for example, to automatically assign an invoice to the team member responsible for its approval and then send it back to the accounts payable department for further processing. All employees involved can view the document's status and identify bottlenecks.   


Data silos are a challenge for companies that want to use their data efficiently. An integrated effort of people processes and using Laserfiche helps organizations break down these barriers and optimize data usage across the company. 


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