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Managed Content for the Win

Bill Dermody

According to a brand new survey by the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM), more than half of medium-sized companies (52%) are working towards a company-wide ECM capability, but only 14% have completed it. In our experience, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) can have huge benefits for companies. But why does it seem that so many want it but are not able to deploy the technology?

The challenge is that organizations may have millions and millions of documents accumulated over the years. Which should be moved to ECM and which should stay where they are? What can be safely archived or deleted? According to a Forrester Research study, the vast majority of companies with ECM – 87% – still retain some or most legacy content remains in old systems. Updating your infrastructure to take advantage of the benefits of a modern structure requires a content strategy – and one that is flexible enough to evolve over time. Here is how we see more companies getting to a winning ECM strategy.


Most business consultants will tell you enterprises consist of three elements: people, processes and technology. One of the most important factors in successful ECM deployment is viewing and building the entire enterprise as an ecosystem. AIIM says that users benefit from “content in context that provides a 360-degree view of other information related to what they are working on from a simple, unified platform.”  From an IT perspective, this allows the simplification of what the users “see”—because they use a single information access point—while still maintaining flexibility, security and scalability on the backend.


Usability is the area that is most often overlooked by organizations. A lot of time, we see organizations spend time preparing the technology rollout, but forgetting to get their people on board. In order to align ECM with the activities and roles of the users, they must be involved in the planning process from the very start. IT and users must work together as a team. In the planning stages, the following questions should be addressed:

  • How are staff using current systems and processes?
  • Exactly how are documents used in these processes?
  • How do we ensure simplicity in storing and accessing content, no matter where it resides?
  • Is mobility required?
  • What levels of searchability, accessibility and collaboration are necessary?

This team approach allows organizations to bake user-friendliness and simplicity into the framework of the implementation. Everything can be simplified once the user is understood.


Most organizations operate multiple business systems and content management systems — which means that users must navigate to multiple systems to get their job done. ECM integration with existing platforms and applications is critical to fixing this complexity by enabling users to access the most current and precise version of a document from any system. 

In an ideal ECM environment, information is not kept in a specific location—it can be accessed between various systems and devices without duplication of content. As a result, information assets are freed from the any one applications, platforms and information silo. Regardless of where it “live,” users can quickly and easily find and use the information they need to help them make more informed decisions and provide greater value to customers.

From a technical perspective, integrating multiple repositories is a relatively trivial technical task. Unfortunately, few ECM systems are integrated with ERPs and CRMs because when integrations are implemented the actual relationship of the documents, information and data is lost. Talk to your people and identify these relationships. With that information, metadata is the secret sauce that make intelligent, accurate multi-systems search capabilities within the enterprise framework and serves as the foundation for ECM capabilities such as business process management, access controls, replication and more.

As you can see, a successful implementation of ECM takes coordination and planning. Check out the free guide below to learn more about ECM technology. And if you’re ready to start creating new, better workflows or making your data work for you, Contact GFC's ECM experts at the Gordon Flesch Company for a complimentary assessment of your business environment.

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