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Nearly 48% of the entire world’s population uses the internet – nearly double what it was just five years ago. To put things in perspective, more than 159 million emails are sent every 60 seconds. With the rise of cloud computing, the amount of traffic on the internet has risen to more than 3 million gigabytes (GB) per minute. No doubt, your office environment has seen an influx of various types of data, too, and managing it all is a major undertaking.
While various technologies have made it easier to create data, others have been developed to help you organize it all. An Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system can help you manage and distribute your business documents, invoices, records, emails and various content, improving operational efficiencies in the following ways.
Remember when pundits suggested that the age of the internet would result in a paperless society? To the contrary, reams of paper are consumed every day at the typical office, with much of it eventually ending up in the recycle bin. Some estimates suggest that half of all printed documents are never even looked at. ECM reduces paperwork by digitally capturing documents, eliminating the need to keep physical copies and, in many cases, also eliminating the need to allocate storage space for archives.
Of course, the greatest reduction in waste is in the form of time. Sifting through emails, computer files, old file cabinets or storage looking for documentation can be a thing of the past with ECM’s intuitive and highly targeted search functions. You can access the data you need at the click of a mouse.
The processes involved in handling various documentation varies with each piece of information. Invoices may need to go through a strict approval process before being paid, while purchase orders or service tickets need to be routed to different individuals. Manually handling the distribution of incoming documents, knowing where each item is in the approval process, making sure they don’t get held up on someone’s desk, retrieving that data and then acting on it has inherent risks. Not only is it very labor-intensive, it’s slow and prone to costly errors.
ECM technology can automate the processes for various documents based on specific rules and workflows, helping items move faster and without human intervention. Because an invoice, for example, is routed electronically, those who need to approve it can be alerted and approve it at a glance, and other authorized users can see exactly where it is in the approval process and even be alerted if action isn’t being taken. Many documents go through the same or similar approval workflows each month and can be automatically approved without any human intervention based on specific rules. For example, an expected monthly utility bill can be paid automatically, and an alert can be sent to notify someone if the amount exceeds a set threshold.
While cybersecurity remains a real threat for businesses, having sensitive data locked away in a file cabinet or on-premise server poses an even greater likelihood of data loss. Having a Business Continuity Plan in place can help mitigate the risks of business interruption as a result of a data breach or other catastrophic event, but prevention is always a better approach.
ECM technology features robust security with advanced encryption of your data to help keep it secure from outside threats and minimize the likelihood of downtime. Some data breaches are the result of internal errors or malicious behavior, however, and ECM permission settings can be implemented so that access is limited to only those who need it.
Many industries have strict compliance requirements. Even small organizations, such as nonprofits, sometimes must go through annual audits to maintain their statuses. It’s not uncommon for an organization to spend days and weeks gathering physical file folders, invoices and documentation for auditors who then spend days sifting through records. With an ECM solution, those documents can be accessed digitally, reports can be run easily, and archives can be preserved and accessed quickly to streamline compliance.
Related: How ECM Helps Improve Compliance
Most business owners are aware of the value of collaboration and how enhanced communication can elevate an organization to greater success. The visibility that an ECM creates within a team and across an organization allows information to be seen and shared more easily, putting everyone on the same page. Secure mobile accessibility can allow team members to engage at any time, too. The visibility that an ECM solution provides also opens the door for others to contribute ideas for improving processes and streamlining your business even further.
Check out the free guide below to learn more about ECM technology. And if you’re ready to start digging out from underneath that pile of data and documentation you’ve accumulated, contact the ECM experts at the Gordon Flesch Company for a complimentary assessment of your business environment.