So you’ve gone paperless—but now what? With digital records proliferating each day, organizations need to find ways to effectively manage their corporate information. Whether it’s an email, document, image, video file, spreadsheet, or any other type of digital information—where does it all go? More importantly, how can you make it easy for employees to search, find and extract value from that information?
Enter Enterprise Content Management—otherwise known as ECM.
What is Enterprise Content Management?
The Association of Intelligent Information Management describes ECM as the “systematic collection and organization of information that is to be used by a designated audience.” They go on to elaborate that ECM “is a dynamic combination of strategies, methods and tools used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver information, supporting key organizational processes through its entire lifecycle.”
TL;DR: Enterprise Content Management is all about managing the vast amount of information in your organization, from physical to digital files and beyond.
A large part of ECM is managing physical records, but today, we’re talking specifically about what happens to information when it’s created in, or uploaded to, a digital environment. That’s where SharePoint comes in. Let’s review the four components of ECM that organizations can effectively manage with SharePoint:
SharePoint boasts many features to help you effectively manage collections of documents in the cloud. With SharePoint, you can:
- Store documents in a central repository so it’s easy to find, share and use information
- Easily browse and edit metadata directly in the document
- Manage metadata sets and groups so its easier and faster to find information by search
- Assign shared settings to specific types of content to save time
- Change permissions at any level—from a singular document to a folder and beyond
- Streamline collaboration with built-in workflows for document-oriented processes
Digital Media Management
Ever tried to open a media file on your computer to discover it’s incompatible, or your media viewer is out of date? Yikes. With SharePoint, you can play media content directly in the native audio player (whether it’s from a portal, team, publishing site or beyond). You can also store assets in an optimized media library that offers thumbnail views of images and video with built-in preview capabilities.
Records management in SharePoint refers specifically to the capabilities that help organizations protect business records in their final state, ensuring the information complies with corporate business policies or government regulations. Organizations can create policies for information retention, appropriately and securely retaining documents with audit trails in the case they’re required in legal discovery. This is most relevant for industries with strict compliance regulations like healthcare and finance.
Web Content Management
The web content management features in SharePoint enable organizations to create and publish web content quickly, maintain consistency across websites with master pages and page layouts, and decrease deployment and management costs for your websites (including intranet, extranet, and internet sites).
Benefits of SharePoint for ECM
Now that we’ve established what ECM is and how you can manage content in SharePoint, let’s get to the burning question: why is SharePoint better than other ECM systems?
1) Integration with Microsoft 365 apps
As part of the Microsoft 365 suite, SharePoint integrates with other apps like OneDrive, Outlook, and Teams. This makes for a seamless experience across productivity platforms, enabling users to easily share and collaborate on documents across their technology landscape—whether it be via a Teams chat, Outlook attachment or other practical use cases.
2) Supports multiple file types
Instead of simply layering over your existing data landscape, SharePoint fully integrates with most file types and documents—meaning you can play videos, update Word documents, change the metadata on an image, and so on—all in one central location.
3) Simplified file search through metadata
Using metadata—the stored information that describes a piece of data such as author, file type, or creation date—it's easy for staff to search for and locate information with ease. Perhaps you saved a document with an obscure name and now you can’t find the file. With SharePoint, even searching for keywords within that document (like a customer name) will pull relevant content suggestions.
4) Low barrier to entry
SharePoint is extremely user friendly and easy to adopt. Users can sync SharePoint folders to their desktop, enabling them to access file folders similar to what you’d typically see in a network drive, but with all the data automatically syncing to the cloud (and trust us—that’s a lifesaver).
Because SharePoint is part of the Microsoft 365 package, many organizations already pay for the app and simply haven’t taken full advantage of it. Microsoft 365 offers affordable monthly subscription plans on a per-user basis. Click here to learn more about the benefits of Microsoft 365.
6) Security and data governance
SharePoint is a cloud-based technology built with security at the forefront—and as part of the Microsoft 365 suite, the Microsoft team handles backend updates and bug fixes diligently. With advanced security features that authenticate users, prevent unauthorized access and enable scalable permissions (all fully customizable), the system is great for data governance and control.
Contemplating making a switch?
What makes SharePoint truly unique is that it has the robust functionality to meet the needs of both small businesses and large enterprises. While technology is one critical piece of a successful ECM strategy, good process and people are also important. Seeking expert third-party support to define, implement and maintain your ECM strategy is always a good place to start.
If it sounds like SharePoint could be a good fit for you, but you aren’t sure where to start, reach out to our team for expert guidance and recommendations.