How to Know Which Solution is Right for You
Information management is critical to any agency. How you store, organize and secure client information – whether physical or electronic – determines your level of productivity.
For some, securing client data in a centralized file cabinet is best. For others, enterprise content management (ECM) software solutions are needed to categorize and retrieve customer correspondence and documents.
The right solution for you depends on your agency’s size, budget and organizational skills. If you never have a problem accessing customer files, answering their questions or meeting deadlines, then information management solutions probably aren’t for you. If you have difficulty finding customer information, assisting them when they call or reaching out to renewing customers on time, here are five things to look for when searching for an enterprise content management solution.
The main driver for many agencies to acquire ECM software is instant accessibility to customer information. Agency employees need to be able to retrieve customer information within seconds in order to quickly and accurately answer any questions they may have or update any piece of information.
Employees also need to not be concerned about finding and re-filing information into a file cabinet or making copies of information to take offsite. They need to have access to critical information at any time and from anywhere.
Workflows are not a new concept. You already have them running in every facet of your agency. ECM software digitizes these processes to speed up the time it takes to fully process a claim, customer or request. These workflows can mirror your current processes or change to reflect the ability to work simultaneously.
Related: 4 Signs You Need Workflow Automation
Search & Retrieval
The benefit of digitizing your information in an ECM is to make searching for information easier. Physically searching for documents is time-consuming because the location is generally not known. ECM software allows you to search for information in any one of three ways:
- Structural. This type of search is based on a file cabinet structure, with forced naming conventions, a content hierarchy and corporate controlled organization.
- Keyword or Document Title. With this type of search, ECM users can search for information based on keywords found in index fields or by the document name.
- Full Text Search. This allows ECM users to search for any key word or phrase that may be found within a given document. This type of search is easiest with creation file types like Microsoft Office documents, but is more difficult for scanned documents and PDFs.
The goal of an ECM software is to reduce the amount of time it takes for you to file, refile and search for information. Many companies are duplicating work because their document or enterprise content management systems don’t communicate with their management systems. Integrations allow ECM solutions to pull information from a management system in order to eliminate double entry and minimize the risks for error double entry causes.
If a tornado were to blow through your town, would your business be able to survive? What if a hurricane flooded your basement? Physical papers are easily destroyed, misplaced or stolen. ECM software protects your information, not only from natural disasters, but also from unwelcome visitors. It allows information to be stored on multiple servers, so that the risk of natural disaster is miniscule, and safeguards your data from people with less than honorable intentions.
ECM solutions are not one-size-fits-all. What works for one business, might not for another. These five principles can help you narrow down your target list, but the ultimate decision should be made based on the best solution for you and your employees.