If your organization is planning to implement an enterprise content management solution, or switching to a different solution, there are many different features, tools and functions that you should look for. Enterprise content management, or ECM, is one of the pillars of modern business efficiency, but not all ECM solutions are alike, and not all will be well-suited to the needs of your organization and the people who keep it running. To ensure the successful implementation of a new enterprise content management system, you must first be sure that you choose the solution best suited to your business needs and IT requirements. Here are a few of the most important things to look for when choosing a new ECM solution for your organization:

1. Business Configurability

An enterprise content management system should have a user-friendly business administration interface to allow all authorized users to configure the application smoothly with the rest of your organization’s business solutions. Configurable ECM solutions increase productivity and streamline processes within businesses, while still offering the potential for customization to address industry-specific and organizational needs.

2. Collaboration, Workflow and Business Process Support

Supporting collaboration, content workflow and business process integration will help drive innovation, productivity and efficiency across a global and remote workforce, while supporting greater interoperability with external partners and service providers. To achieve this, your organization’s ECM solution should offer a variety of user-friendly capabilities. These include features to support:

  • document / web content management
  • collaboration
  • simultaneous editing and review
  • business process management / workflow
  • records management, retention and archiving
  • content imaging / capture
  • content publishing and dissemination
  • search

3. Compliance

With the increasing complexity of regulations and standards on the use of data in the digital realm at the global, national, state, local, industry and companywide levels, it’s extremely important to choose an ECM solution that ensures compliance. Make sure to look for an electronic management system that complies with all eDiscovery, HIPAA, IRS, ISO, global health authority (e.g., FDA), SEC and SOX company policies, rules, laws and regulations.

4. Content Management and Auditing Capabilities

The content management capabilities of your ECM system should enable users to easily edit content, open existing content and save files in any format. It should also support a comprehensive audit trail. It’s critical to implement an ECM system that complements a well-designed audit program, ensuring higher audit scores through optimal content management processes.

5. Ease of Use and Performance

To get the most out of an ECM solution, it has to be easy to use by everyone who needs to use it and satisfy end-user performance requirements. Although managing content in an enterprise requires careful use of technology, it shouldn’t feel like an ultra-high-tech solution. With minimal training, employees at all levels should be able to quickly adapt to using this solution on a daily basis to improve the speed, quality and productivity of their work and they should not experience delays when attempting to navigate folders or view documents.

6. Help & Support

There are bound to be some questions that arise when implementing a new enterprise content management system. To ensure a smooth user experience, implement an ECM solution that offers a comprehensive training program, excellent email support, telephone support, a thorough FAQs section on its website and high customer ratings for help & support. Additionally, plan for a change management work stream as part of your ECM program to develop specific communications and training by business area and role.

7. Integration of Content Creation Tools

An effective ECM solution will integrate many of the essential applications that your organization uses to create and work on content. These may include content creation, management and collaboration tools such as AutoCAD, Autotask, Lotus Notes, Microsoft Dynamics, Microsoft Office, Microsoft SharePoint, NetSuite, Sage 200 and Salesforce CRM out of the box.

8. Essential Solution Features

Look for these critical document access features when choosing an ECM system. Features for managing access to and storage of information can truly determine the usefulness and value of an ECM solution. These include features for:

  • cloud storage
  • document imaging and optical character recognition
  • content publishing / distribution
  • importing / exporting content
  • full-text search
  • managing metadata
  • mobile access
  • accidental content deletion prevention.

9. Robust Security Model and Infrastructure Capabilities

Security is of the utmost importance to any organization. Therefore, an ECM solution must also provide a full set of highly configurable features to keep your information, content, business data, customer data, employee data and other resources safe and secure. Look for features that support automatic backups, check-in and check-out and that grant various levels of individual and/or group permissions (e.g., none, read, version, write, delete) based on user role (e.g., author, reviewer/approver, reader).

10. Supported Configurations

Finally, your ECM solution should support your IT standard environment, whether your organization relies on Mac OS X, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows Vista or Windows XP, or supports the use of several different systems across different offices and remote work locations. Otherwise, workflow will be disrupted, people will be left out of the loop and efficiency will be at risk.