While teleworking has been embraced by most organizations as part of a new operating model in times of COVID-19, a fresh challenge emerged: content management.
Until very recently, companies used simple ad-hoc solutions (e.g. SharePoint or shared drives) to manage content. The absence of a comprehensive enterprise content management (ECM) strategy has proven detrimental to these organizations along their digitalization journey.
When the first lockdown was announced, many organizations deployed tools like Teams which offered powerful collaboration and document repository functionalities to their staff. In many cases, however, the underlying operating model and instructions were missing. As a result, employees struggled to understand on which platform relevant documents were available. Legacy SharePoint? Maybe on the traditional shared drive? The new Teams repository? Or some other document management platform? Unclear governance and lack of information on tools spelt real confusion at the beginning of the pandemic.
These same organizations also realized that launching digital transformation initiatives, based on new process implementation or automation, without recognizing the need to harness all this content and securely deliver it to the right audience, won’t bring the benefits expected from process digitalization.
The bottom-line? A robust content management framework is critical for delivering the expected outcomes.
Let’s take a look at four crucial elements for the successful roll-out of a comprehensive content management strategy.
1.Move up the value chain in data management systems
The functionalities of content management have grown over time, and powerful tools used a few years ago might now be the weaker links in the digitalization value chain:
- Collaboration platforms (e.g. typical shared drive or ‘dropbox’) are used as single repositories to store documents used by users belonging to the same community (e.g. project teams, departments, …)
- Document management systems (DMS) are seen as an extension of collaboration platforms with search and retrieval functionalities as well as versioning and auditing features. DMS will also integrate workflows and dashboarding functionalities to facilitate and monitor the distribution of information to relevant stakeholders and content contributors.
2.Content services as enabler of digitalization journey
Even within organizations with mature DMS, employees can waste time working with multiple systems in an attempt to see the whole picture. Indeed, some data might also be managed in third-party tools. such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or CLMS (Contract Life Cycle Management System) applications.
Content services go one level deeper by managing content through a set of services integrated in a product suite that coordinates content usage by all parties, across multiple tools, leveraging connectors and APIs. Content is then seen as a critical asset and a driver of processes.
By taking advantage of content services, an information strategy must be established in order to move away from simply managing data sets to delivering the relevant content to the right stakeholders.
3.Dematerialization as another trigger of content services
So far, we’ve focused on the importance of content and process automation and leveraging documents in an electronic format. With business transformation as the endgame, it is also key to look how physical documents could be integrated in the overall content services value chain.
This could be achieved by combining OCR capabilities and automation of processes (thanks to RPA technologies) to extract metadata when scanning operators are processing paper documents. This metadata will be injected into the content platform to, on one hand, ensure indexing of scanned documents for further retrieval, and on the other, trigger some processes or rules (for example, to implement retention policies, the same way than for all other e-documents).
Dematerialization can also integrate e-archiving with probative value to ensure that original paper documents can be destroyed once they have been scanned, facilitating the journey to a paperless environment. This reduces the risk and effort related to physical archive management while ensuring that dematerialized documents can be retrieved from the platform, with the same probative value as the original paper version.