When organizations consider implementing an Enterprise Content Management system, saving money is typically the driving factor. However, when companies fixate on cost reduction as the primary reason to pursue ECM, they may overlook some of the most powerful benefits an ECM solution can bring to their organization.
This is the second article in a five-part series, “Moving Beyond Cost Reduction as a Driver for ECM Implementation.”
In case you missed it, you can read Part 1: There’s No Doubt About It—ECM Implementation Is a Great Way to Save Money here.
Here are the Top 5 benefits of ECMs, beyond cost reduction:
- Employee happiness. Is employee happiness tangible? Absolutely. Consider an employee who has been with you long enough to develop institutional knowledge. If you let that employee walk out the door, you not only lose the institutional knowledge but also will have to pay 150% of that person’s salary (on average) to replace him or her. ECM implementation can make employees happier by transforming their role from a mundane, monotonous, and unfulfilling one to one where their institutional knowledge is valued, their skills are put to better use, and they can more easily see how their efforts translate into worthwhile contributions.
How often it is that I go into a company and see employees fed up with the process, hoping for something new and something better! You know them—people who have been there for years and know things about the business that most people don’t, and they probably have some analytical skills that are not being put to good use. They are frustrated, tired of doing data entry or overseeing the people doing data entry and having to deal with all their errors. If they have a willingness to learn, all they need is someone to lead them to that next stage. If you let them know you respect what they’ve done and you want to invest in them by providing them with another skill set, you will have transformed a disgruntled employee into a happier and more productive one.
- Agility. With an ECM system in place, business processes become more easily scalable. You can quickly build out workflows to support new business processes, and you need fewer people to support it. Let’s say I’ve got a new process. Without an ECM, I would have to hire five new staff for this process, but, fortunately, with an ECM in place, I can build out a workflow—often without any formal coding required—where I only need to hire one person or even transition a small workload to someone who has more bandwidth already. This capability to scale quickly and inexpensively makes the company more agile to meet whatever needs, challenges and opportunities that arise.
- Transparency and visibility. In the previous article in this series, I mentioned metrics and KPIs as a direct cost-reduction benefit of ECM. I am also including metrics and KPIs here in this article about benefits of ECM beyond cost reduction because executives need visibility. They need to see metrics that really aren’t going to reduce spend but nevertheless are very, very key to a business. To illustrate, perhaps there’s a CEO who wants a full-on dashboard of the health of his company. Granted, access to this dashboard of data will help him make decisions faster, but some of the information he may want to see simply so that he can know what’s going on with his company. He wants “living data” right in front of him from all the different segments of his business so that he’s continually up to speed and able to make informed presentations to investors. Again, the value of this benefit of an ECM solution is hard to quantify, but a CEO would likely say it’s priceless.
Visibility and transparency is important to other team members as well. How does the executive team know what’s going on with the company? How do team members know who is doing what on a project or process? ECM eliminates windowless silos in an organization and minimizes the misunderstanding, errors, frustration and other problems that plague siloed organizations.
- Customer service. How many times have you reached out to a company only to have it take forever to get back to you? Any organization has external customers—vendors, clients, customers, constituents or other stakeholders—that require information. If it takes you two weeks to find the information your customer needs, you’ve at the very least created a bad impression and possibly even ruined a relationship. With ECM, you can provide faster customer service. You can query and report on data you need and respond while you have them on the phone, or certainly within 24 hours.
And we must not forget internal customers. Let’s say I’ve got my VP of Finance on the phone, and he wants to know what the payables were for the day. Without ECM, I must sift through all the invoices on my desk and calculate a total because I don’t have them entered into the system yet. With ECM, all those invoices are already scanned into the system, and the total for the batch for today has automatically been calculated. Then perhaps the VP asks a two-part follow-up question, “By the way, what else is pending, and what have we already paid for the month?” No need to panic. I just change my criteria in the ECM and, boom, I’ve got my totals for that. Providing this level of internal customer service is one of the key benefits of ECM: it gets very important information—HR information, financial data, contractual details, whatever it may be—to the necessary people to make a very quick, educated decision, and educated decisions tend to be better ones.
Additional ‘beyond-cost-reduction” benefits ECM systems provide have to do with compliance and risk management, but we’ll save that for the next article in the series.
Next in this series: Feeling the Burden of Compliance and Risk Management? ECM to the Rescue
Authored by Dale Hopkins