Components Of Enterprise Content Management

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Components Of Enterprise Content Management

Enterprise Content Management or ECM basically just refers to the way in which content and documentation is organised within an enterprise, company or organisation through the use of specific tools and methods. ECM cannot be definitively measured or categorized and the official definition of this integrated service keeps evolving.

This is mainly due to the fact that ECM needs to keep up in a world that is seeing enormous technological and electronic growth at a rapid rate. There are however 5 specific components that can be used to describe the ECM process.

Many different subcategories exist and function within each of these components. The components each form a part of the general life cycle of documentation or content from creation of an electronic version to archiving.

1. Capture

This refers to the process of converting hard copies of documentation or content into electronic data or formats. The most effective strategy is to simply scan documents to create an electronic copy of the document.

Electronic filing and management of documentation is important during the capture process to ensure that they retrieval process is simplified. Different types of recognition technologies can be included when capturing the documentation to ensure easy retrieval. Alternatively, one specific recognition technology can suffice depending on unique requirements within an organization.

Some of these recognition technologies include:

– Optical character recognition (for typeset documents)
– Handprint character recognition (for written documentation)
– Intelligent character recognition (used mainly for numbers and calculations)
– Optical mark recognition (finds specified characters)
– Barcode recognition.

Physically capturing content or documents is not ideal as much of the information contained on paper can be lost. For example signatures, letterheads and handwritten comments or changes may not be added to the hand-typed version.

2. Manage

There are five subcategories in the ECM manage component – document management, collaboration, web content management, records management as well as work flow and business process management.

These five subcategories can be fully integrated to provide comprehensive Enterprise Content Management or can be used individually to meet the requirements withing a specific organization.

This component of the Enterprise Content Management strategy plays a role in all four of the other components to ensure that they are all linked to one another. This provides the entire strategy in one continuous process instead of being viewed as separate entities or functions.

3. Store

This refers to the way in which content that is not readily required is stored or archived. Files that are not archived or stored can clog up the operating system so the storage function is important to the overall operation of the ECM.

Part of the store function is also to ensure that all entry and exit points of documents and other content are continuously logged. Logging prevents data from going missing or being misfiled making retrieval of archived or stored content difficult.

The store component is used only as a temporary storage measure. This means a storage function that will only retain the document or content data until it is ready for preservation. The amount of time the data remains in temporary storage is dependent upon specific organizational policies and procedures.

4. Preserve

The preserve function is to provide a long term backup solution for all stored content and documents. These backups are normally provided for content that is no longer in use as well as temporary back-up for content that is still in use.

Backup solutions are essential as content can become corrupted, erroneously deleted or lost. The information can then simply be retrieved from a long term backup solution.

There are a number of different formats in which content data can be stored. Some of the most well known of these are optical discs, microfilm or microfiche, hard disk drives, storage networks, etc. Each type of preservation format is suitable to meet different requirements although more than one format can be used.

As technology continues to advance, it may become necessary to transfer preserved data to newer mechanisms to ensure that the stored information remains accessible. Older preservation mechanisms may also deteriorate or become damaged over time.

5. Deliver

Delivering refers to the transfer of the content to devices so that it can be presented or used in a number of different ways. This may mean the translation of data so that it can be understood by different types of applications or operating systems. Delivery of content can also refer to the the actual transfer of the information from a storage or preservation to another device.

Content delivery should allow the user to change or manipulate a document. Personalization of the content can be managed by using specific electronic language codes or providing document security settings. This will limit the users that can make changes to documents and content as well as the types of changes that can be made.

Document security forms a very important part of all five components of the ECM strategy. Through every process and each step of the life cycle, the integrity of the content and information contained in the original document should be maintained.

Should the integrity of a stored or preserved document be challenged, the logging application will be able to provide the information on who accessed the document, when they accessed the document from the date of capture. Electronic signature can also be used to further improve the logging software as well as provide security for the documentation.

Although these five components have been identified as the main functions delivered by Enterprise Content Management the constantly changing electronic and technological landscape influences continual upgrades to the strategies.

For instance, the huge social media operational aspects of business in a multimedia society necessitates the content management of a variety of social networking sites. Many organisations now find it necessary to apply the five components of Enterprise Content Management to their social networking functions.

This is a very brief overview of Enterprise Content Management and there are many other categories and characteristics that form part of the integrated strategy. However, the five components mentioned above provide a solid base for an ever changing management strategy.

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