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Systems that implement ECM generally provide a secure repository for managed items, be they analog or digital, that indexes them. The key feature of ECM that distinguishes it from “simple” content management is that an ECM is at least cognisant of the processes and procedures of the enterprise it is created for, and as such is particular to it. Enterprise content management is the technology used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM covers the management of information within the entire scope of an enterprise whether that information is in the form of a paper document, an electronic file, a database print stream, or even an email. IIM refers to the management of content AND data, not just content itself. It also implies the conversion of data between various digital and traditional forms, including paper and microfilm.
ECM aims to make the management of corporate information easier through simplifying storage, security, version control, process routing, and retention. The benefits to an organization include improved efficiency, better control, and reduced costs. Under the old system, a customer request for a copy of a cheque might take weeks, as the bank employees had to contact the warehouse where the right box, file, and cheque, would need to be located. The cheque would then need to be pulled, a copy made and mailed to the bank where it would finally be mailed to the customer.
With a suitable ECM system in place, the bank employee might simply query the system for the customer’s account number and the number of the requested cheque. When the image of the cheque appears on-screen, the bank can mail a copy immediately to the customer, usually while the customer is still on the phone. It specifically includes the special challenges involved in using and preserving a company’s internal, often unstructured information, in all of its forms. As ECM solutions have evolved, new components have emerged. ECM, but provide a Web interface. Digital asset management is a form of ECM concerned with content stored using digital technology.
The first stand-alone EDMS technologies aimed to save time or to improve information access by reducing paper handling and paper storage, thereby reducing document loss and providing faster access to information. EDMS could provide online access to information formerly available only on paper, microfilm, or microfiche. By improving control over documents and document-oriented processes, EDMS streamlined time-consuming business practices. The audit trail generated by EDMS enhanced document security and provided metrics to help measure productivity and identify efficiencies.