Many years ago I started my path down a career ECM as a File Clerk in a Law Firm. When I took over managing the firm’s records I had no clue what ECM meant nor could I have imagined that it would become a common place term. I was just worried about making sure lawyers did not take home the case files we had and that I had the files needed for our trials. Today it seems that everyone in the business world understands the concept of ECM and it’s use is growing…..so what happened?
My theory on this is that we learned that managing hard copy records is nothing like managing electronic content and that it is even harder. Content is everywhere and is not confined to the file room or our work areas. It is hard to track and manage without systems. Instead of worrying about lawyers taking a case file home, we are worried we will never find files on file shares or which file is the right version….the list goes on and so does the application. ECM is present in almost every business process and we depend on having accurate information when we need it at our finger tips. Something we could never achieve through the file rooms and our desktops. Not only is it an issue of organization, but it is saving our companies money and there is real ROI. Laws and technology have also changed the business culture making ECM a necessity not a luxury.
So how do I know that this concept is something that everyone is getting? First off, when I walk into a room with a client I don’t have to explain the term. They know they need it and they get down to business and really do not need to discuss the concept, but the issue they are facing. I also know that people get it, because of the amount of volume in requests for work around ECM. I do have to say, the one that takes the cake is that people are talking about ECM in general conversation…for instance a couple of weeks ago I was completing my morning run in a local park, I overheard two people as they walked talking about ECM and the need for email archiving. It was a shocker….ECM has made it to conversation in local parks!