Enterprise content management definitions

ECM is variably defined and below are a couple of definitions offered by different authors:

Grahlmann, Helms, Hilhorst, Brinkkemper, Van Amerongen, and Sander (n.d., p. 12) defined ECM as “the strategies, processes, methods, systems, and technologies that are necessary for capturing, creating, managing, using, publishing, storing, preserving, and disposing content within and between organizations. ECM is therefore designed to help organizations to manage their information resources effectively and in a manner that gives them a competitive edge (Glazer et al., 2005; MacMillan & Huff, 2009; vom Brocke, Derungs, et al., 2008). MacMillan & Huff contended that ECM is about creating the culture of sharing information. Shegda and Gilbert (2009) posited that ECM consists of the vision and framework to integrate a broad range of content management technologies and content formats in the entire organization.

Gilbert, Shegda, Chin, Tay, and Koehler-Kruener (2014, p. 1) defined ECM both as “a strategic framework and a technical architecture that supports all types of content (and format) throughout the content life cycle.”

Munkvold, Paivarinta, Hodne, and Stangeland (2006, p. 69) presented it as an “integrated enterprise-wide management of the life cycles of all forms of recorded information content and their metadata, organized according to corporate taxonomies, and supported by appropriate technological and administrative infrastructures.”

Nordheim and Paivarinta (2004) defined ECM as “an integrated approach to managing all of an organization’s information strategies, processes, skills, and tools” (Nordheim & Paivarinta, 2004, p. 1).”

Jenkins, Kohler and Shackleton defined ECM as “a philosophical approach and the underlying technologies used to help businesses transform content into competitive advantage” (Jenkins et al., 2006, p. 63).

Vom Brocke, Seidel, and Simons defined ECM as “The strategies, tools, processes, and skills an organization needs to manage all its information assets (regardless of type) over their lifecycle” (vom Brocke, Simons, & Schenk, 2008, p. 1049).

MacMillan and Huff defined it as “the technologies used to capture, manage, store, preserve, and deliver content and documents related to organizational processes. ECM tools and strategies allow the management of an organization’s unstructured information, wherever that information exists” (MacMillan & Huff, 2009, p. 4). This definition was adopted in 2006 by the Association for Information and Image Management, and it is the definition that is used by most ECM vendors.

de Carvalho (2007, pp. 173 — 183) “ECM integrates the management of structured, semistructured, and unstructured information, and related software and metadata in solutions for content production, publication, utilization, and storage in organizations, emphasizing the coexistence of technical and social aspects within the content management.”

The above definitions demonstrate that there is no single adopted definition of ECM. Based on the definitions we can conclude that the concept is not only about a technical system or systems, but it also entails the development of policies, strategies, and skills to facilitate enterprise wide information management. ECM has also become a blanket term to cover information technologies used to manage unstructured content. Kemp (2006) posited that ECM is an aspiration to link an enterprise’s intellectual assets (content) and document systems to business processes in order to enhance effective utilizations. There are however different ECM strategies and different ways of applying them. An organization can decide to implement ECM department by department or across the entire organization (MacMillan & Huff, 2009). Smith and McKeen wrote that an effective ECM strategy should address the following lifecycle stages:

  • • Capture—all activities associated with collecting content;
  • • Organize—indexing, classifying, and linking content and databases together to provide access within and across business units and functions;
  • • Process—sifting and analyzing content in ways that inform decision-making; and
  • • Maintain—ensuring that content is kept up-to-date (Smith & McKeen, 2003).

ECM can help organizations to control their content and hence boost productivity, promote collaboration, meet with compliance initiatives, promote better contentcentric processes which make information easily accessible and easy to share (Gilbert et al., 2014).

ECM may be a single system dealing with different types of content and records requirements or a collection of repositories and applications. ECM proponents claim to have integrated records management into the ECM strategy in order to enable organizations to meet with compliance issues (MacMillan & Huff, 2009). It constitutes a platform or a set of applications mentioned below that interoperate but that can be sold and used separately:

  • Document management, for check-in/check-out, version control, security, and library services for business documents.
  • Web content management (WCM, for controlling a website’s content through the use of specific management tools based on a core repository).
  • Records management, for long-term archiving, automation of retention and compliance policies, and ensuring legal, regulatory, and industry compliance.
  • Image-processing applications, for capturing, transforming, and managing images of paper documents.
  • Social content, for document sharing and collaboration support for project teams and knowledge management use cases. Blogs, wikis, and support for other online interactions are evaluated.
  • Content workflow, for supporting business processes, routing content, assigning work tasks and states, and creating audit trails. The minimum requirement is simple document review and approval workflow.
  • Extended components, which can include one or more of the following: mobile applications, digital asset management, search, analytics and packaged integration capabilities (for portals, ERP and CRM, for example) (Gilbert et al., 2014).
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