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7 Questions to Ask to Ensure You're Choosing the Right ECM Solution

So you’ve determined that an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solution is right for you. You’re ready to add value to your company and reduce costs by strengthening processes and collaboration within your organization. You are excited about easily finding documents whenever you need them and maintaining accuracy, privacy, and compliance needs better than ever before.  What are the next steps? With so many document management technologies available in the market today, the search for the perfect ECM vendor can be overwhelming. Here are seven questions to consider when choosing the ECM solution that will best help you accomplish your objectives:

1.  What functionalities are important to you? Is the solution flexible and robust?
There are numerous functionalities that an ECM solution can have. It is important for you to work with your team to identify your largest problems, needs, and goals. This collaboration and upfront planning will help you narrow down your search for a software that aligns with your needs and provides a solution that will be successful in your organization. Typically, important functionalities include indexing and retrieval, workflow (aka intelligent automated routing and approvals), scalability, retention automation, high-security standards, collaboration tools, flexible deployment options, both on-premises and cloud solutions, and an easy-to-use interface.

2.  ECM Implementation: How easily can the system be implemented and configured?
Implementation ease is heavily dependent on three things: the Professional Services Group that is in charge of your project, the ECM solution you choose, and you. Be sure that your ECM vendor has a knowledgeable and experienced professional services team that focuses on the process first. An analysis of your company’s existing processes and future state goals should be made before implementation of any software is ever suggested. Make sure your vendor’s team knows your current business applications, processes, problems, and goals just as well as you do…if not better. This will ensure that the correct configuration of your solution happens the first time. Furthermore, make sure your solution is easily configurable without the need of a programmer—this will help both timing and cost with any upgrades or change requests made in the future.

3.  ECM Integration: Will the ECM system integrate nicely with your other line-of-business software?
ECM solutions are best optimized when integrated with your other line-of-business software, such as your ERP, EMR, CRM, etc. Look for solutions that make integrations easy for you with little to no additional programming required. Integrating with your current software will not only help your overall return-on-investment (ROI), but it will furthermore increase usability. As you continue to use your ECM software throughout your entire enterprise, it is important that the solution you choose can work not only as a stand-alone solution but as a complement to the solutions you already have in place.

4.  Does the solution truly have enterprise-wide capabilities?
Is the solution able to grow along with your business without drawbacks and substantial investment? Once an ECM solution has been implemented into your organization, it should serve as the information mainstay of your business. Because of this reason, it is important that the solution can truly scale; the system you choose must not only handle the influx of users and documents today but also support and encourage growth and communication for usage in future departments.

5.  Will the solution drastically reduce manual document routing, if not fully eliminate it?
Choose an ECM solution that will eliminate wasted time spent on manual document routing. A good solution will include workflow automation to automate necessary business processes. More than just routing documents, workfl­ow automation automatically processes work based on a pre-de­fined set of rules so you can focus on the job you were hired for – not chasing paper. No more folders on desks, misplaced or misrouted files. Furthermore, ensure that your software solution allows users to gain access to needed documents whenever convenient. This is, after all, one of the largest reasons to implement and utilize an ECM solution within your organization. Work­flow enables users to process work more effi­ciently, faster, and more accurately and the documents and information are safer and more secure. 

6.  Does the vendor offer best-in-class technical support?
After implementation of your system, when the solution has been handed over to you and your team to manage and use as you please, it is important that you have a vendor with a best-in-class technical support team to help when an issue arises. Whether this issue is an actual software bug or user error, it is imperative that your vendor has the knowledge and capacity to help you determine next steps, and to do so as quickly as possible depending on the priority of the issue.

7.  Does the vendor have considerable experience, great references, and a track record of success?
When determining the ECM solution that will work best for you, be sure that the vendor has considerable experience in working with clients in your industry, numerous recommendations, and a proven ROI. A fast but thorough implementation, smooth integration with your other line-of-business software, and good communication can often help to quicken the ROI, not to mention the productivity benefits for your team.  While the product choice is important, partnering with a vendor that is experienced and attentive to your needs is key.

 

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