So what is the big deal about an Electronic Content Management (ECM) System?

An agency simply cannot manage records and information in this day and age without a system of some kind, period. Be it a manual system or a software system, “system” in this instance is all about established systematic processes and procedures to holistically manage records and information across the agency regardless of formats (both paper based and electronic). Agencies need a system that has the ability to appropriately and defensibly disposition (destroy or transfer) according to the retention requirements and in a timely fashion and need a system that supports the business user in doing their job with less effort and more efficiency while offering workflow improvements and more automated processes.

This does not mean a “system” where “archiving” records is simply keeping everything in storage and just adding to the pile. That’s hoarding, not managing.

An ECM system provides the support and management capabilities for records and information from start (point of creation) to finish (ready for destruction/transfer) - otherwise known as “cradle to grave” management within a single repository and using one software application.

Think along the lines of the “one ring to rule them all” and bringing back the tried and true concepts of central files and consistent structures and an automated “dragon lady” that will be in charge of the files and take care of the information - but which is all managed behind the scenes and in a seamless fashion.

An ECM system can manage all CONTENT, regardless of format. These systems can store and manage over 400 formats - including emails, the entire Microsoft office suite of products, video, audio, images, pretty much everything a typical agency creates. And as part of the requirements developed for the ECM initiative, these systems must interface or offer interoperability with other existing systems (including SharePoint).

Part of the strategy with an ECM is to eliminate the silos that are scattered throughout an organization, hindering searching and retrieval of relevant information to both do work and respond to records requests. An ECM supports the storing, access and retrieval of related records and information together so it can be better managed and disposed or transferred in bulk using more automated processes.

AND these systems offer workflow, support mobility, dashboards, disclosure and e-discovery search, redaction and production tools too!