What criteria might I use to select an ECM system?
If you decide that an electronic content management (ECM) system makes sense for your company, you will be faced with the challenge of reviewing and comparing different systems to determine which one is right for you.
As you go through this process, in addition to finding out the cost of each system, you may want to ask the following questions as you review each one:
What type of system do I want?
A hosted system offers lower startup costs and lowers the burden on IT resources. However, these systems also have a higher long-term cost and typically involve giving up some control as your documents are stored in "the cloud."
An in-house system requires a higher upfront investment and a higher IT burden, but offers a lower long-term cost as well as better overall control.
What features and functionality do I need?
Just about all ECM systems will provide you with basic storage, search and retrieval functionality.
For more advanced systems, workflow functionality will also be available, although often at an added cost. Workflow modules are used to automate business processes; documents are automatically routed online from user to user, based on existing business rules, as transactions are processed.
If you have other specific needs or requirements, make sure to see a demo of your desired features before making a purchase.
Is it an open system or a closed one?
Find out if the software uses open architecture and non-proprietary file formats. Also find out what the process and cost is for transitioning your documents to a different system should it become necessary in the system.
If you will desire any points of integration between your ECM system and other business systems used by your company, make sure it can be accomplished and find out if extra costs will be involved.
Is the system scalable to my potential future needs?
This will be important if you plan on rolling the system out to other departments within your organization after the initial implementation. Some systems are designed more for departmental use, while others are better suited for enterprise-wide deployment.
If you have an IT department, you may want to involve them early in the process in order to provide guidance as to a) what software your company already owns that may help you accomplish your objectives, and b) what ECM system will work best with the rest of your IT infrastructure.