Think you know what to look for when choosing an enterprise content management system? There are many factors that can influence a company's decision: cost, technology and security to start. Thanks to the enterprise's changing landscape, such decisions are making it harder to evaluate which system to integrate. Here is some guidance that may help.

Emerging Technologies, Empowered Employees and the Changing Face of the Enterprise

Recently we spoke to Roger Bottum, vice president of marketing at SpringCM about the ways that CMS are influencing companies and the way companies are influencing how CMS can serve them better. Now that most organizations have adopted or plan to adopt more cloud-based services, for example, to store and manage their content, companies are (or should be) focused on the implications that cloud computing has for security, cost and technology. But that's not to say that all ECMs are cloud-based. No matter what platform you choose, it's important to know what to consider and factor into your decision making process.

The ECM landscape is much different than it was 3 or 5 years ago. Even SpringCM has had to do some rearranging to help align their products with the changing face of companies, emerging technologies and priorities. Five years ago, their primary customer only managed a handful of seats and engaged in simple file sharing. Now, multi-national companies manage call centers full of hundreds of people and generate information from across a variety of applications. As well, the consumerization of technology has afforded individuals to become better acquainted with devices, applications and communication platforms like never before.

Has this exposure influenced the way professionals implement new platforms into their business strategies? After carefully examining how companies and their customers choose a content management system, SpringCM not only sees how much empowered employees are driving content management, but offer up five components that every business needs to consider when evaluating a CMS. Let’s take a look.

1. Evaluate Cost Compared to Value Delivered

Companies have always been focused on the bottom line. The economic recession has many organizations demanding to know what their enterprise content management is really worth. Time, productivity and cost are all factors but evaluating them isn’t always straightforward.

To ensure that your company gets the most bang for their buck, it’s imperative to have the right people involved in the decision. IT and the C-suite must come together to take inventory of what they currently have in place and how other solutions can impact the way they do business

2. Determine the Right Amount of Complexity

Companies need to know what each ECM requires and the basic functionality that it is capable of providing. At its core an ECM should work to streamline business process management (BPM). With each additional layer of capabilities built into it, security shouldn’t be compromised, nor should previous problems go unsolved. Software as a Service implies that it is there to solve a problem. As a result, it shouldn’t create more issues than it’s solving.

By understanding how much is too much, companies can choose the right ECM for them, cloud-based or not, rather than selecting one that is too much to handle.

[Interesting side note: According to Bottum, even the way we talk about SaaS has changed. In June 2010, in a blog post, SpringCM highlighted the use of the term “Cloud” and how it noticeably replaced what had once been referred to as SaaS. Additionally, the usability of the word "cloud" has improved, making it much easier for laypeople to understand its basic concept.]

3. Deploy Proper Levels of Security

Before companies can start to access the proper security controls offered by a vendor, they first need to understand what’s needed. Choosing the right security isn't a cookie-cutter approach. Rather, depending on where your information will live, in the cloud or in-house, the appropriate layers of security can vary.

Consumer technology as well as national news has provided a glimpse into the ways information can be compromised and how third-party applications can access sensitive information. As a result, Bottum says that most companies are thoughtful in their approach when it comes to selecting the appropriate security to integrate into their business processes.

4. Find the Right Resources

At SpringCM, a customer is ready to make a decision when three things have been accomplished: 1) they have determined what they need, what they want and why; 2) they have reviewed, understood and approved SpringCMs requirements and deliverables; and 3) have visited the data centers to get the whole picture of their information at work. Such a system in place ensures that both customer and company are on the same page. SpringCM becomes an ally, working to support and enhance their customer.

Organizations who are interviewing vendors are encouraged to take inventory of the resources afforded to them after they’ve made a decision. From on-site help, to performance monitoring to software updates, having the right resources can make all the difference.

5. Balance Business Needs vs. Technology

Finally, in order to guarantee that your ECM meets your company's needs, it’s important to gauge ease of use. Software should be as easy to use as it is powerful. Though consumer technology has made us more aware, it’s also possible that it’s made us more impatient. We expect to have information delivered instantly through a streamlined application, thus we sometimes fail to recognize all that goes into delivering it. Though some platforms have a perceived efficiency or ease of use, it's important to test drive the technology before implementing.

Integrating ECM into a pre-existing infrastructure relies on the fact that there is one in the first place. For a system to be efficient, it needs to work to serve the needs of management, while integrating fully with what’s already in place.