Enterprise document / content management and mobility (ECMS)

Rob Borley
by
on 12 August 2014

The huge increase in corporate data storage capacity is well documented, as is the need for employees to be able to access that information any place, any time. Document management is no longer optional for businesses – without such a system it becomes impossible to properly control the data held by your business.

Cloud storage – simple and complicated

The explosion of Cloud file storage has, like many mobile technologies, been driven by consumer-focused services. By making the process of storing and retrieving files online, services like Dropbox and Google Drive have quickly gained traction with employees often unofficially adopting such tools for business use.

Cloud file storage makes it incredibly easy for employees to access the data they need when they are on the road. For the CIO this is good news, particularly as it helps to reduce load on the email system because people are no longer sending multiple copies of documents to each other.

However this simplicity repeats the same complex problem inherent in emailing copies of documents – file versioning.

If employees are circumventing the central corporate data stores using Cloud file storage, they will also be creating their own copies of the data they use. This presents several issues:

  • Control of commercially-sensitive data – how does your business manage information stored in personal employee accounts?
  • Identifying master documents – With multiple copies of documents, how do employees know which is the ‘definitive’ version? And how much time do they waste chasing it down?
  • Poor data sharing controls – With little or no control over personal Cloud file services, ensuring key staff have access to data is virtually impossible.
  • Tracking changes – An emphasis on collaboration means that changes to documents need to be carefully managed and properly audited.
  • Limited default apps – Although each of these Cloud services comes with its own mobile app, the functionality is often quite limited and rarely matches your internal business processes properly.

Although many of the Cloud service providers are working hard to address these issues, any solutions will be bolt-on after thoughts rather than built-in as standard. Businesses keen to keep their mobile workers engaged need a solution with similar flexibility and simplicity, but which provides better control over the data therein.

The importance of a document management platform

For most large businesses, the ideal solution is an enterprise-class document management solution that offers similar functionality. Obviously there are several solutions available, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. Your own needs will also help you narrow down the list of suitable solutions.

That said, any document management system you consider must:

  • Provide Cloud-like data access – Employees expect to be able to access and use documents and data remotely, easily. If the process is complicated, the solution is doomed to early failure. Your employees don’t care whether the data is stored inside or outside the corporate firewall – they just want to know it will be available when and how they want it.
  • Provide proper management and auditing tools – Company data should not be a company free-for-all. Your business needs to be able to restrict access to certain information and track who is using it – particularly for those organisations operating in a highly regulated industry.
  • Provide advanced customisations – You need a document management system that can be configured to meet your business processes. The use of workflows, Active Directory access controls and extensible architecture will help you build a system that grows and flexes with your business.
  • Provides proper mobile access – The mobile experience needs to be as seamless and efficient as the desktop, so the ability to create custom mobile apps to access data will also be essential. Your custom app can then use sandboxing to prevent files being exported or emailed from the app, preventing a repeat of the current duplicated file scenario.

Most importantly of all, the use of a document management system ensures that the master copy of every document is stored centrally in a known location. Creating the fabled ‘single version of the truth’ becomes possible immediately. Mobile staff will always be able to find the data they need, allowing them to be more efficient on the road.

Modern document management systems like Alfresco and Sharepoint provide another tool for the enterprise to maintain control over corporate data and exploit the efficiency of the Cloud that employees love. Increasingly Dootrix are asked to provide ECMS solutions to meet the mobility needs specific to individual organisations however the common thread highlighted above remains.

If you want to discuss your ECMS mobility needs then get in touch.

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