Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is the strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM covers the management of information within the entire scope of an enterprise whether that information is in the form of a paper document, an electronic file, a database print stream, or an email.
The ECM encompasses areas that have traditionally been addressed by records management and document management systems. It also includes the conversion of data between various digital and traditional forms, including paper and microfilm.
ECM is an umbrella term covering document management, web content management, search, collaboration, records management, work-flow management, capture and scanning. ECM is primarily aimed at managing the life-cycle of information from initial publication or creation all the way through archival and eventually disposal. ECM applications are delivered in three ways: on-premise software (installed on the organization’s own network), as a web interface or as hosted solution.
ECM aims to make the management of corporate information easier through simplifying storage, security, version control, process routing, and retention. The benefits to an organization include improved efficiency, better control, and reduced costs. For example, many banks have converted to storing copies of old cheques within ECM systems versus the older method of keeping physical cheques in massive paper warehouses. Under the old system a customer request for a copy of a cheque might take weeks, as the bank employees had to contact the warehouse to have someone locate the right box, file and check, pull the cheque, make a copy and then mail it to the bank who would eventually mail it to the customer. With an ECM system in place, the bank employee simply searches the system for the customer’s account number and the number of the requested cheque. When the image of the cheque appears on screen, they are able to immediately email it to the customer—usually while the customer is still on the phone.