The 6 Most Common ECM Usage Patterns and Packages

By Richard Medina posted 06-06-2013 17:56

  

For the last several years we’ve recommended that to facilitate almost all aspects of ECM implementation, companies should define a standard ECM portfolio with clear “routes” for supplementation and other customization. We typically recommend that companies start by segmenting their usage patterns and portfolio into four basic types: Basic ECM, Standard ECM, Collaborative ECM, and Specialized ECM. Usually we call it “ECM” but just as often we call it “DM”, “RIM”, or something similar – the substance is mostly the same but the label varies depending on the company circumstances and culture. The four basic patterns are common to all companies but – if necessary – we can add anywhere from one to four additional patterns, such as Process ECM (think high volume imaging and BPM) and Long Term ECM (think archiving and hierarchical storage management).

Basic ECM provides secure centralized storage and retrieval of general documents (with retention) for lower value, lower risk content. It replaces network drives and minimizes the use of email for file sharing. It’s a step up from shared drives or “email-as-DM,” but falls short of what is required for even moderate value, moderate risk content. And it’s certainly less that what’s currently offered by the major ECM vendors (Microsoft, IBM, EMC, OpenText, Oracle, HP, Hyland).

Most companies’ requirements can be addressed by Standard or Collaborative ECM. These are described below. Specialized ECM adds additional special capabilities to Standard or Collaborative ECM, and addresses additional complex requirements such as DAM, integration with technical drawing management, and advanced information rights management (IRM).

Process ECM provides advanced, high-volume “process” or “transaction worker” capabilities, such as production imaging and workflow, typically on fixed content. It typically also involves integration with ERP and line of business systems.

Long Term ECM provides high volume, long term archiving and lifecycle management of unstructured content and structured data (e.g. ERP data). It provides the ability to integrate with storage systems and to manage, long term, the information life cycle within the various domains of the repository management layer. it also includes granular records management and security.

The advantage of this “packaging approach” is that it defines the primary configurations (Basic, Standard, and Collaborative) that will be implemented across the enterprise, clarifying and controlling where specialization is required (with Specialized, Process, and Long Term ECM).

The rest of this post outlines each of the six basic usage patterns and “packages” of capabilities:

 

Basic ECM

ECM Usage Pattern Description

  • Provides minimum capabilities to allow users to create, edit (with minimal version control and check-in/out), classify, store, and retrieve documents, using common tools such as Microsoft Office, email, or a web browser.
  • Also includes Basic Document Access, which provides no guarantees or restrictions on content, authorization, security, authenticity, or accuracy, apart from the most general guarantees or restrictions in place at the organization. (In other words, if you see and open a document that says “Current SOP”, it might be the SOP in effect today – or a draft from 2004.)
  • Provides general retention and disposition, but no further RM functionality.
     

ECM Capabilities

  • Some library services
  • Simple search; search is limited to ECM repositories
  • Web-based user interface
  • Integration with desktop tools (e.g. Microsoft Office)
  • Allows configurations with read-only ECM
  • Leverages common security model for user authentication and access control; security protects search content based on user access rights
  • RM capabilities not provided, other than retention and disposition capabilities provided by the core system; this retention management (as opposed to RM) is provided without the use of specialized RM components or classification according to the organization’s retention schedule


Standard ECM

ECM Usage Pattern Description

  • Provides sufficient capabilities for most cases where users need ECM, but do not require collaboration, other workflow, or more advanced capabilities.
  • Also includes Standard Document Access, which adds to Basic Document Access by providing ensured authenticity and other related capabilities.
  • Provides RM beyond simple retention and disposition.
  • Provides better search capabilities than Basic ECM.
     

ECM Capabilities

  • Includes all Basic ECM capabilities, plus:
  • Web-based user interface for repository access and interaction
  • Library services are wide in scope, including document profiling/indexing, check-in/check-out, revision history, document security, audit trail, etc.
  • Structured repository; ability to configure the repository in a manner that matches business requirements
  • Metadata management capabilities (to facilitate document cross-references, search, etc.)
  • Ability to set up multiple repositories
  • Integration with desktop tools (e.g. Microsoft Office)
  • Person-to-person asynchronous collaboration capabilities for activities such as document authoring; generally used to replace simple email-based collaboration
  • Not only leverages common security model for user authentication and access control (e.g. Basic ECM), but also provides guarantees and restrictions on content, authorization, security, authenticity, or accuracy, beyond the general guarantees and restrictions in place at the organization
  • “Enterprise” search, although search is typically limited to all same-ECM product repositories in the organization, with some capabilities to search databases and other repositories from the same vendor
  • Provides RM; behind-the-scenes capture of all content as a business record (if not explicitly defined otherwise)
  • Structured repository; ability to configure the repository in a manner that matches business requirements
  • Metadata management capabilities (to facilitate document cross-references, search, etc.)
  • Ability to set up multiple repositories
  • Integration with desktop tools (e.g. Microsoft Office)

 

Collaborative ECM

ECM Usage Pattern Description

  • Provides team- or activity-based, document-centric collaboration capabilities, focused on providing a common virtual environment to share information and interact on a particular task, project, or activity.
  • This type of collaboration is focused on the creation, updating, and finalization of content (typically a single document or piece of content, such as a proposal or project plan).
  • The finalization of the content may be the ultimate purpose of the collaboration, or it may be one step in a larger project.

ECM Capabilities

  • Includes all Standard ECM capabilities, plus:
  • Workflow is document-centric; includes good author-review-approve content routing, with alerts to help participants quickly find and work on changes
  • May include electronic forms
  • Project workspace for team or workgroup collaboration; project templates and object reuse
  • Document review and markup features
  • Real-time document sharing and whiteboarding
  • Discussion thread
  • Online chat / instant messaging
  • Records management of project resources (objects) and entire projects


Specialized ECM
 

ECM Usage Pattern Description

  • Provides more specialized ECM capabilities than Standard or Collaborative ECM, through OEMed components or integration with third party products.
  • Many include such capabilities as the following: DAM, technical document and data management, document capture, advanced paper RM, and more granular security.

ECM Capabilities

  • Includes either Standard ECM capabilities or Collaborative ECM, plus:
  • May include integration with cloud-based DAM for rich media management
  • May include technical document and data management repository services
  • May include capture services (but if the application becomes sufficiently high-volume or complex, this scenario switches to Process ECM)
  • May include advanced paper RM
  • May include information rights management (IRM) capabilities, including encryption, digital signatures, etc.

 

Process ECM

ECM Usage Pattern Description

  • Rather than “knowledge worker” capabilities, this pattern provides “process or transaction worker” capabilities, such as production capture, imaging, and workflow, typically on “fixed content”. It also often involves integration with business systems like ERP.
  • Production Capture includes the ability to ingest a large variety documents from multiple channels; classify, sort, and extract data; and then export the documents and data into downstream systems.
  • Production Imaging includes the ability to index, manage, store, and display large volumes and varieties of potentially complex document images.
  • Workflow includes the ability to manage and automate the execution of business processes that typically involve some human interaction. Workflow technology typically include design tools for mapping out a workflow or process definition (including its users, steps, rules, and conditions), and a workflow engine that executes the workflow.

ECM Capabilities

  • Includes Standard or Collaborative ECM capabilities or Long Term ECM, plus:
  • Support for all relevant input devices, channels, and document formats
  • Support for all relevant image enhancement, document sorting, classification, and data extraction (via IDR, barcode, OCR, etc.)
  • Flexibility to configure a production capture process with multiple stages (i.e. scanning, image enhancement, recognition, QA, exception handling, commit)
  • User interface for accessing work items
  • Support for serial, parallel, event/data-driven, and ad hoc flows
  • Support for user- and role-based workflows and queues, subflows, and time-based routing
  • Support for audit trails, reporting, notifications, escalation
  • Graphical design tool for building workflow definitions

 

Long Term ECM

ECM Usage Pattern Description

  • Provides high-volume, long-term archiving and lifecycle management of unstructured content and structured data (e.g. ERP data).
  • Provides the ability to integrate with storage systems and to manage, long term, the information life cycle within the various domains of the repository management layer.
  • Also includes granular records management and security.

ECM Capabilities

  • Supports high scalability and performance: handles high volumes of ingestion within time windows needed to provide the business with access to documents when needed within business processes; provides reasonable response times for document search and retrieval, and the solution should have the ability to perform ingestion and archive functions without negatively impacting overall system performance for users
  • Supports accessibility and availability: provides mechanism for authorized users to search for and retrieve documents; provides the ability for certain external users to retrieve documents
  • Supports security and protection: can restrict access to documents, such as for documents that are private, confidential, privileged, secret, or essential to business continuity; may include requirements for encryption of stored content
  • Supports a records retention schedule, either managed internally or by an external system 
  • Integrates with storage systems and manages, long term, the information life cycle within the various domains of the repository management layer
  • Supports retention and integrity: can retain documents for defined periods of time, taking into account legal, regulatory, fiscal, operational, and historical requirements; provides a suitable guarantee of authenticity; can provide the ability to retain information on unalterable storage platform when needed (e.g. WORM storage)
  • Supports disposition: supports purging of documents upon expiration of defined retention periods (both time- and event-based; supports a formal approval process before purging, and supports override of purging in cases where documents are under legal hold; enables authorized staff to periodically review and potentially modify retention periods
  • Supports integration: provides a standards-based architecture and open API that allows integration with other systems or middleware components, including existing legacy systems
  • Ability to store output generated in multiple formats; provides conversion utilities to convert output to industry-standard formats (such as PDF); provides online viewing capabilities

 




 



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