Feeling the Burden of Compliance and Risk Management? ECM to the Rescue

As the familiar proverb goes, “The only sure things in life are death and taxes.” For enterprises, the corollary might be, “The only sure things in business are regulations and taxes.” It’s the same for organizations all over the world. Whether it’s Sarbanes Oxley for financial institutions, HIPAA for medical organizations, GDPR for European companies, or a host of other examples, there’s always some sort of regulation or compliance requirement an organization will need to meet. Fortunately, when it comes to compliance and risk management, you have a uniquely capable friend in ECM. In fact, Electronic Content Management often can be the difference between being compliant or not.


This is the third article in a five-part series: Moving Beyond Cost Reduction as a Driver for ECM Implementation. 

  • Read Part 1: There’s No Doubt About It—ECM Implementation Is a Great Way to Save Money.
  • Read Part 2: The Top 5 ECM Advantages That Go Way Beyond Cost Reduction.

ECM solutions, by their very nature and design, can be extremely powerful tools for compliance and risk management in nearly every industry. This is particularly true when the compliance requirements are defined and taken into account in the implementation of the system. Most ECM solutions have built-in features that aid an organization in security and compliance, such as dating and time stamping, electronic logging, digital document storage and retrieval, user permission settings and profiles, and reporting and notification.

A familiar example of how these ECM capabilities come to bear is an annual audit. Most major companies have to go through audits yearly. In these cases, companies typically know exactly what documentation they need to maintain and what they need to supply to the auditors. Inevitably, however, auditors find something that piques their interest, an anomaly of some sort that must be explored. In these cases, the auditors launch an investigation and request backup data—sometimes reams of it. It’s not uncommon for whole teams to be pulled away from their operational duties to go through filing cabinets and search through mountains of emails to find the data or documentation being sought by the auditors. This is a miserable situation that takes massive resources away from the company.

In stark contrast, if you have an ECM solution, every data touchpoint within the system is time stamped and logged. Therefore, it is a simple matter to quickly retrieve and supply to your auditors any information they require. In fact, ECMs provide three unique ways auditors can interact with the data:

  • A data dump to review all audit activity.
  • Quick-search criteria for internal employees to pull needed data.
  • Role-based user permissions for auditors so they can pull certain data within criteria defined.

Another quick example of how an ECM system helps organizations manage risk is a case I call “The $3 Million Dupe.” In this real-life example, a client who transitioned from their paper system to an ECM solution discovered by running a report on their historical data that they had made a duplicate payment of $3 million to a vendor who had been sitting on it for a year. In the future, their ECM will use its built-in redundancy and duplicate-checking functionalities to flag any potential duplicate payments immediately.

These are just two small examples of how the unique capabilities of ECM contribute to compliance and risk management. With ECM, the data points are all there, the searchability is there, the audit logs are there, and all the information is in one place where you can find exactly what you’re looking for.

Next in this series: 7 Ways to Hyperscale the Returns on Your ECM Investment


Authored by Dale Hopkins

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