Article: How Advanced ECM Technologies Help Mitigate Risk and Improve Business Performance
““A proactive approach to risk management would include measures to ensure that your information is secure, searchable, and retained and disposed of according to industry requirements. This can be a daunting prospect for organizations for whom paper processing still plays a large role.””
As a general rule, most firms are not motivated to invest in an enterprise content management (ECM) system solely to mitigate risk. Typically, the main business driver is the opportunity to save significant time and money while enhancing services to customers and other constituents. In other words, it is the prospect of improving business performance that usually propels companies initially to go paperless and automate business and internal processes.
Once an ECM project has been designed, tested and implemented, it is critical to validate the results on a regular basis in order to improve functionality, system buy in, and cost effectiveness. This might entail expansion to improve back-office processes such as HR and accounting. It might take the form of examining advanced ECM technologies such as intelligent capture, records management, electronic forms, and dashboards to see how they could benefit operations. It also might involve using ECM to take a proactive approach to risk management.
When we talk about risk, essentially we’re talking about security and compliance within government and industry standards and regulations. According to a recent AIIM survey, the biggest risk from failure of information governance is excess litigation costs. Furthermore, respondents were concerned with their inability to respond to requests for information, and with audit qualifications due to inadequate records. Twenty-four percent of respondents had a compliance issue around litigation and discovery in the last 2 years.
A proactive approach to risk management would include measures to ensure that your information is secure, searchable, and retained and disposed of according to industry requirements. This can be a daunting prospect for organizations for whom paper processing still plays a large role. For those organizations that have implemented ECM, however, risk mitigation is vastly simplified. It involves taking advantage of the advanced features associated with ECM, and approaching their system configuration from a governance perspective as well as from an efficiency standpoint.
1. Simplify audits
If your organization is audited, you will be required to demonstrate security. Furthermore, it is likely that you will be asked to produce specific documents. Your ECM system can dramatically simplify these requirements:
- Security - By definition, your ECM system should offer the security that you need to comply with mandates and regulations. ECM offers you the ability to apply security levels to limit user rights to document access and alteration.
- Audit trails - A robust system will automatically create an auditable trail to every event that takes place within the software. In terms of risk mitigation, this is mandatory. Audit trails provide you with the compliance, security, and accountability to demonstrate when, how, and by whom documents were accessed, viewed, or otherwise acted upon. They provide logs of activities performed by users, as well as those performed automatically by the system.
- Producing records on demand - A robust indexing strategy ensures that finding documents is simple when you know any index (metadata) values associated with a document for which you are searching. Should you need to locate information that is not indexed, the full text search engine associated with your ECM system will enable you to locate any structured and unstructured data that is required to produce records on demand for audits, e-discovery requests, Open Records, or Right-To-Know regulations.
2. Automate records retention and disposition
A recent AIIM survey mentioned earlier reports that, with respect to records management, only 12% of respondents feel confident that they store only what they need to store. Furthermore, 42% of respondents expressed that they were not confident about what is safe to delete. These results should be a wake-up call to any organization that is trying to manage records manually. Far too many organizations are:
- Deleting records prematurely
- Keeping records well past their mandated retention periods
- Retaining their information indefinitely, leading to repeated investments in costly storage
Clearly, to implement successful records management, you need to find a way to bypass the uncertainty that is associated with retaining and deleting records. Seamless records management allows you to automate retention and disposition schedules, removing the potential for human uncertainty and error. Seamless records management even allows organizations to place legal holds on documents and records series: records can be set aside for the litigation process and kept unaltered until the legal hold is released, but files are still available for staff to access and use. This feature helps to further mitigate risk and ensure compliance.
3. Enable proactive decision-making
Successful organizations find ways to be proactive, rather than reactive, with respect to risk. They use dashboards to identify and circumvent potential performance issues that might be associated with their ECM system and/or their process efficiency. Dashboards take the guesswork out of performance issues, and offer multiple benefits, including:
- Real-time monitoring capabilities. Dashboards allow you to view work distribution and monitor where workloads are light or overloaded and make real time adjustments. The module can provide snapshots of other servers and repositories as well as monitor and display performance information of other business systems.
- The ability to compare today’s performance with that of the past month. Dashboards allow you to identify when productivity is slow or efficient, see the reason, and know where to modify aspects of their processes based on these metrics.
- Access to details associated with charts and graphs. A dashboards module enhances decision making by allowing authorized personnel to drill down into charts and graphs and view specific details, such as the productivity of individual staff or a particular time of day when existing processes break down causing issues or excessive delays.
4. Retain more customers with improved service
One of the most insidious threats to business continuity is not directly related to compliance. It’s that dip in customer satisfaction that causes them to leave your business in favor of a competitor. What starts as a slow trickle has the potential to grow into a rushing torrent unless you are confident that you are doing everything within your power to keep costs low and provide services that surpasses customer expectations. Advanced ECM technologies can help with this.
Automation. Stellar customer service starts with responsiveness and quick turnaround. Let’s face it: your ability to quickly fulfill your customers’ needs is directly related to your customer retention. By allowing you to model, automate, execute, control, measure, and optimize your processes, the workflow module associated with your ECM system ensures that you are responding to your customers as quickly and as accurately as possible.
Electronic Forms. eForms enable you to offer self-service options to customers, partners, and staff members. Information that is collected can be automatically indexed, ensuring that the information is instantly and appropriately useful enterprise wide. eForms can further allow you to expedite turnaround by allowing your workforce to pull specific data from third party applications to display just the information that is needed to complete tasks.
Intelligent Capture. Your ECM system’s intelligent capture module takes your ability to process information efficiently and accurately and elevates it to a whole new level. Intelligent capture extracts content—regardless of its format—and automatically classifies it. Without any manual oversight, it then uses that information to launch workflows and business processes based on the extracted data. Turnaround is optimized, ensuring that your customers’ needs are addressed quickly and accurately.
The benefits of a proactive approach
Risk avoidance allows you to take a proactive approach to business continuity. Rather than putting policies in place after a catastrophic event, such as an audit or a loss of consumer confidence, it is far better to equip your organization with tools that ensure both compliance and customer satisfaction. With vigilance, clear communication, transparency, and the right software, you can prepare your organization to thrive in the face today’s adversities and tomorrow’s challenges. Gain a competitive edge by learning more about risk avoidance strategies that can help you improve business performance.