.pliance, Security, And Cost-efficient Management Ecm Rises To The Challenge-cibi

The combination of a weak economy – causing many to streamline operations to keep afloat – and increasing regulatory demands made business challenging for many in 2009. Those that emerged from the rubble of crumbling profits, hoping to resurrect their bottom line and succeed in this decade are working harder than ever, often with fewer resources. Although the economy will eventually improve, the regulatory scene is becoming more demanding, placing greater burdens on business. Only those that make wise use of limited resources will survive. Despite recent unpredictability in government, business, and the economy, one thing is unchanged: compliance, security, and cost-efficient management remain the focus of many businesses. Named in multiple industries as the top three drivers for enterprise content management (ECM), they are more closely intertwined than ever: Cost efficiency is only possible in todays litigious economy with an integrated, efficient compliance management program that mitigates risk and avoids costly penalties. In a paper or mixed media environment, its nearly impossible to achieve. Compliance is only achievable with stringent internal controls and an overseeing force to manage document security, governing access to information and how it is used. Entrusting oversight to fallible humans alone means there will always be mistakes. Zero tolerance is on the rise; penalties for non-compliance can be financially devastating. Security is only manageable in information-intensive businesses when you have the tools to pull all of your information together so it can be controlled, centrally and consistently. Even with a full complement of employees, its challenging. In a paper-based environment, its impossible. The solution? ECM. ECM in 2010: stronger, more accessible ECM delivers the control and insight you need to run your business intelligently, compliantly, and with confidence. Whats different this year? Top-line solutions are more accessible, interoperable, affordable, and intuitive, making it easier than ever to secure documents, govern them consistently, and comply. ECM is a mature technology. When its capture, indexing, processing, and archiving capabilities are coupled with powerful Web services (now the industry standard for integration, but not offered by everyone), businesses benefit from redefined connectivity. ECM connects silos of vital business information, giving you comprehensive insight into your business, tools to work efficiently, the consistency you need to comply, and the digital trail to prove regulatory fulfillment. Since the palette of ECM tools varies from one solution to the next, its vital to know what youre looking for. The tips below will help you to find the best solution for your business. Look for a system that will: 1. Help you manage changing regulations Whether youre ruled by the mandates of HIPAA, SOX, Gramm- Leach-Bliley, FERPA, the Freedom of Information Act or other regulations, managing compliance is expensive. ECM lets you track information, implement rules for information management, amend those rules to reflect regulatory changes, and ensure they are followed. It removes the burden and streamlines costs by following your rules implicitly correctly, completely, and consistently. Look for: web-based architecture that lets authorized IT staff administer the system remotely, 24/7, and allows authorized persons to access, view, search, process, and manage requests for information, wherever and whenever its needed. configurable functionality that lets you regulate who can access and manage various document types (HR contracts, invoices, etc.) and the functions each person can perform (importing, indexing, emailing, etc.). centrally configured, administered, and supported software. Modular solutions typically require multiple configurations and are more difficult to support. Central configuration saves considerable time and money. a business process management (BPM) or workflow component. BPM lets you regulate internal governance policies by setting rules and exceptions for routine processes (such as invoicing) that are followed without question, eliminating human error. Since BPM presents the greatest potential investment returns for an enterprise, buying ECM without a BPM/workflow component is shortsighted. Regulations change constantly, so make sure the solution you choose will let you make modifications easily so you can enforce new rules on the fly. lifecycle management features to let you set default retention schedules, backups, audit trails, data migration, and destruction schedules. Managing files throughout the entire document lifecycle is an important part of compliance. detailed audit trails that prove observance of the rules you set in response to regulations. Whether youre replying to e-discovery requests, Open Records, or auditing demands, electronic discovery is far more cost effective than manually searching through scattered files. ECM, when integrated with legacy systems, line-ofbusiness software, email, and other digital repositories, produces thorough audit trails, mitigating the risk of non-compliance penalties and saving staff considerable time. Make sure your solution provides the detail you need. 2. Assure file security As organizational hierarchies, regulations, positions, and job functions change, security rules must be adjusted. Centrally administered ECM makes it easy for IT administrators to amend the rules: a few clicks in one place, and all of the features and functions within the suite follow the new rules. No more need to rely on perfect memory, reminders, logons and passwords and hoping new employees get it right. ECM ensures the right people have access, know what to do, and can process their work. Organizational dictates are followed every time. Look for: …the ability to lock down document types and specific document sections by groups of users (such as HR managers) and job role (such as directors or department managers). configurable, permission-based feature rights that let you determine who can retrieve, view, edit, annotate, sign, email, move, or delete documents; initiate workflows; etc. a centralized, tamper-proof repository to ensure the accuracy, quality, and integrity of archived information. the ability to electronically create file backups and enable quick recovery of information in the event of a business catastrophe. 3. Make compliance (and operations) cost efficient In a paper-based or mixed media environment, compliance demands drain limited human and financial resources. Managing processes, following approval hierarchies, updating duplicate information in multiple systems (such as customer contact data), and filing documents correctly to ensure theyre found later demands precious time. Logging into multiple software systems, re-keying data from one system into another, wading through duplicate or conflicting customer records, and searching for insufficiently indexed or missing documents adds to the frustration. Being ill prepared to respond to demands is costly enough; making mistakes, missing deadlines, and failing to find information when its needed can be financially devastating. ECM lets you respond to mandates cost efficiently by eliminating tedious search, expediting processes, eliminating the incidence of duplicate files and tasks, and ensuring your rules for access and processing are followed. Look for a solution that will: index documents thoroughly so staff with diverse needs and searching methods can find what they need. integrate thoroughly with industry-standard Web services. Make sure the functionality of the suite you choose is fully underwritten in web services so you can take full advantage of its features and functions within your users familiar business software. This reduces the learning curve and cost of training. Also investigate your vendors fees for Web service calls: If you have to pay for every data request you make, youll be surprised how quickly it adds up. accommodate all phases of the document lifecycle, from document creation and capture through indexing, business process automation, document archival, retention, and destruction. deliver the information you need. Look for diverse search functionality such as enterprise, full-text, and keyword search. If youre subpoenaed for information, you cant afford to consume staff resources scrolling through electronic files manually because your ECM system wont deliver what you asked for. ECM that is configurable, with thorough indexing and strong search, should respond to requests in seconds. 4. Be embraced by staff A clear vision, solid plan, and top-line ECM wont solve your business challenges unless the solution is fully embraced by your IT staff and end users. Consult them as you evaluate business needs. Understand their day-to-day challenges, no matter where they stand in the hierarchy. Streamline and improve your current processes before you get started with ECM. Since both IT and end users are facing more responsibilities than ever, the solution needs to make their lives easier, every day. Look for: a flexible user interface, with drop-down menus, on-line help, and user-friendly documentation to guide end users. adjustable, moveable windows and work spaces to honor employees individual work preferences and maximize their productivity. a central log-on for all work, rather than needing to log in and out of each function to start scanning, send emails, launch processes, etc. Dont waste precious staff resources on inefficient access to ECM products that exist to promote efficiency! a full suite of functionality that is centrally configurable, administered, and supported. This significantly reduces IT administration and eliminates the need to log in and out of each application to make changes. Considerations in buying ECM Quality vs. cost Choosing a top-of-the line solution has never been as affordable as it is today, but dont make the mistake of making price your only criterion. If you sacrifice quality or choose a solution that wont meet your needs as the economy rebounds and your organization grows, you may be implementing ECM all over again with another vendor in a few years. Solutions that you choose today should serve you well for a decade and beyond. SaaS vs. licensing vs. alternative pricing Hosted services offer attractive financing opportunities if youre cash strapped, but often at the risk of losing control over the security and business informationespecially if the SaaS providers business fails. Licensing, in contrast, offers full data ownership and carries less risk, but includes an up-front cost that keeps some small companies from making the investment. Some vendors offer subscription pricing and other alternatives that protect your business interests while making the leap forward more feasible. Explore your options. Remember, the goals are to enable cost efficiency, security, and compliance. Examine your options carefully. Your vendor should offer choices and be willing to find a financing solution that doesnt sacrifice your businesss health. 2010: Get ready for the future If youre looking for a way to streamline resources, eliminate waste, and make efficient use of your information for cost-effective operations, better security, and consistent compliance, now is the time to get ahead with ECM. The regulatory train is picking up speed. Be ready when it arrives. Choose wisely. About the Author: Visit www.docfinity.com to find out more about DocFinity. The ECM suite is built on a J2EE platform with full Office compatibility, complete BPM/workflow, strong eForms capabilities, and more. The latest version of DocFinity is powerful, flexible, easy to use and administer, and fast. Configurable for Windows, Red Hat Linux, SUSE Linux, and z/Linux, and working with MSSQL, Oracle, DB2LUX, and DB2 Express databases, DocFinity delivers the power and flexibility you need to manage your business. 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