Is your ECM fit for digitization?

Whether it's a match made in heaven or a shotgun wedding: digitization goes hand in hand with ECM

ECM backbone is not another software solution; it is a conceptual process, with a technological and methodical toolbox.

Digital transformation sounds modern and sexy; enterprise content management does not. "Good old ECM" has certainly been around a few more years than the younger digitization as well, yet despite this, these topics enjoy a practically symbiotic relationship: electronic or digital management of documents and company content, as well as completely digital processes, are both precursors and basic requirements for digitization in companies, particularly as the digital age continues to create increasing amounts of information that has to be managed. ECM helps to ensure that this information and the knowledge it entails is available quickly, in its entirety and above all in line with the relevant legal standards – otherwise things can soon start getting expensive, as many recent legal disputes have proved.


To make digitization possible at all, ECM requires a certain level or degree of maturity within an organization. A veritable ECM jungle already exists at many companies: a highly complex and heterogeneous landscape, made up of various ECM solutions (concerning, for example, archiving, searching for documents or customer communications and records management) which neither manage content centrally nor provide all employees with centralized access. This complicates a company’s overall IT landscape as well as making it more expensive, particularly as integration and combination with other tools becomes difficult.


Here's the rub: pain points in ECM

Most companies are currently struggling with at least one of the following four challenges, or “pain points”, in ECM:

  • Complexity: there is a very heterogeneous, complex and opaque landscape of ECM applications and solutions.

  • A lack of integration possibilities: ECM tools cannot be integrated or combined with other business applications sustainably, or if so, only with great difficulty and at a high price.

  • No centralized access: ECM tools are not available to every department and cannot be accessed via different channels or devices as there is no centralized, single point of access.

  • No centralized management in line with legal standards: there is no centralized, reliable management regarding access rights, retention periods or regulatory and legal standards, representing a risk from a legal standpoint.

The ECM backbone concept: make way for digitization

The new ECM backbone concept from ELCA addresses and solves these four most common pain points by taking a meta-level view of a company’s entire ECM landscape and ECM requirements and making improvements according to the company’s wishes.

With the help of the ECM backbone, companies can increase the use and thus the return on investment of their ECM landscape as well as any investments that have already been made in this area. This allows the possibilities of the existing ECM landscape to be exploited to the full and at the same time be made fit for the demands digitization makes on the IT landscape.

The advantages of the ECM backbone concept at a glance: ECM backbone

  • Helps to exploit the entire range of ECM functionalities to the full for all existing processes and to take advantage of synergies (efficiency).
  • Creates the necessary conditions for internal digitization and automation (fit for the future).
  • Simplifies the implementation and release capability of new front-end services in shorter intervals by isolating ECM components from the front end consistently (flexibility/time-to-market).
  • Processes and monitors regulatory and compliance requirements centrally for all ECM-relevant issues and simplifies management of all content in accordance with the law (centralization, standardization and compliance).
  • Makes the ECM component functionalities truly accessible for all employees and provides access via mobile terminals and new channels (user benefit and productivity).
  • Increases return on investment by ensuring previously made investments in ECM are fully exploited and even expanded (return on investment).
ECM backbones are made up of four steps:
  1. Checking ECM components and functionalities: As an initial step, ELCA carries out a rapid analysis of the existing ECM landscape and tests the following points: Which ECM components are already in place and what functionalities do these provide? Are there overlaps or even any gaps in ECM? An ECM strategy is then determined depending on the answers to these questions and the requirements of the company.
  2. Simplification via the ECM integration layer: The “integration layer” is applied across the ECM landscape in order to access the individual ECM business applications centrally via this layer. The integration layer consolidates the various silos and memories for information and content and thus simplifies access to, and the complexity of, the heterogeneous ECM landscape.
  3. Expanding the benefits of ECM: This step is about getting the most out of the ECM infrastructure and exploiting it to the full in an efficient manner, thereby increasing the benefits for an organization. This is done by integrating different components, where possible, into the ECM landscape to enable synergies. By using the integration client, the user experience is harmonized, the benefits of the functionalities are improved and sustainable use of business applications is made possible.
  4. Centralized, compliance-appropriate ECM management: With the help of a file plan, a company’s entire content and documentation is categorized and integrated into the ECM landscape and its processes accordingly. The categories describe the characteristics of a document from an ECM perspective: type of document, access and editing rights, centralized memory location, retention periods, legal provisions that apply to the document, etc. Thus by implementing a file plan such as this, existing rules and requirements for all documents or document containers in a category can be administered quickly and easily. This makes a file plan of great interest, particularly for management, which is responsible for fulfilling and implementing compliance standards, and can only really carry out this task with the help of a transparent, electronically implemented file plan.

Every journey begins with that first step ...

Many companies are still looking for the right business model for a world that is becoming increasingly digitized. Even if that model does not yet exist, it is already possible to create the basic prerequisites for successful digital transformation – this also includes the maturity level of ECM. Because it is precisely the age of digitization that brings with it an ever-growing influx of data and thus increases the pressure on companies to manage information, content and documents effectively.

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