25 Questions to Ask Before You Sign Off on that ECM Contract

Guest post by Pavan Gourisetty, Sr. Product Line Manager – DocuShare and Solutions

How many ECM solutions claim they have comprehensive solution, and how many really do? We’re going to answer that question with another question, 25 in fact. When you evaluate ECM systems, use these as discussion points to identify solutions that bring the important features and capabilities you should expect in a truly comprehensive system.

1. Can the ECM solution scale up or down based on business needs?
2. Can it help your organization solve document-centric business problems by digitizing, processing, managing and sharing content?
3. Does it tightly integrate with multi-function devices for ad-hoc and context-aware scanning?
4. Does it give you an ecosystem of products to facilitate access to content through mobile and cloud?

What About Capture?
Organizations deal with large volumes of content to support their business processes. Whether you want to automate invoice processing, streamline accounts payable or some other need, it all starts with paper.

5. Does the ECM solution support a wide range of scanning needs with tools for both distributed and centralized capture?
6. Does it support ad-hoc scanning of hard copy content into business processes?
7. Can it help digitize high volumes of paper through enterprise-grade capture?
8. Does it offer a mobile client to capture business content through the convenience of mobile devices?
9. How about scan-to-process and scan-to-archive for a wide range of organizational imaging needs?

Managing Content
Once hardcopy content is digitized, the next step in the process usually involves managing that information. Once content is organized, you want data-centric applications and a unified repository where all your business-critical information is stored. Users shouldn’t have to worry about logging into multiple systems, running around looking for information or sending multiple emails to gather insight. Everything is at their fingertips. All they have to do is access the ECM repository to look for content either through keywords or even using a text within the document.

10.Can users organize content to folders?
11. Can it define unique properties such as invoice number or amount or student or employee ID, to support indexing and search?

Keep Collaboration in Mind
When content plays a role within a business process, it often requires collaboration among knowledge workers. A truly comprehensive solution offers a suite of collaboration capabilities. Ask if a particular ECM solution allows users to:

12. Instantly share information across distributed workgroups?
13. Improve communication and knowledge transfer with wikis, blogs and dedicated workspaces?
14. Use document routing and approval for sign-off?
15. Enable document-level collaboration to help knowledge workers make informed decisions?

Thinking About the Process
Data can either live by itself or play a role within a process in conjunction with business rules management to automate complex business processes.

16. Can users work with their own content with little to no programming?
17. Does the ECM package offer e-forms, business rules and advanced business process management help meet automation goals in a matter of days instead of months or years?

Don’t Forget Security
Important aspects of every content management system are compliance and security.

18.Does the ECM solution provide robust mechanisms to secure your digital assets, through user and group-based access?
19. Can it automate content retention and disposition?
20. Does it allow engagement with external users and sharing information via secure access?
21. Ask about audit trails to track usage.
22. Also ask about integration support with Microsoft Exchange servers, so employees can use their Windows credentials to authenticate against the ECM system. This step helps avoid unauthorized access and automates login procedures.

Access Is Essential
Users eventually want to retrieve content that they’ve stored in the repository. In some complex scenarios, this access could be within the context of a third party application. For example, you might want to access sales orders from the SalesForce application.

23. Does the ECM application provide easy, intuitive means to let enterprise applications talk to each other?
24. Does your ECM solution allow access to business-critical content both online and offline, through desktop browsers or mobile devices?
25. How about through the cloud?

By the time you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a pretty good idea whether or not the ECM solution brings enough to the table. We recommend putting Xerox Docushare® 7.0 to the test to find out if it answers all your questions.

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