The ABC’s of ECM

ECM for Construction

The world of paperless options for document management has evolved over the years and is now generally referred to as an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system. Regardless of the description or how you have deployed it so far, digital capture and storage is clearly the direction for content of all types.

You already have some paperless processes, even if it is just a system of .pdf file storage. Or you might have been an early adopter of scanning for paperless storage, and it’s time to upgrade. Regardless of what stage you are at now, it pays to have an overall strategy for content management going forward in your construction business.

Key elements of a paperless strategy:

  • Easy to deploy — including capture methods, user interface, accessibility of digital content.
  • Secure — levels of security may vary by subject matter. Bank statements may need to be more secure than AP invoice copies, which may lead to different methods of capture and storage.
  • Easy to retrieve — within the security concerns above.
  • Deliberately managed — the capture, storage, retention, and possible disposal should be actively managed.

Use industry resources!

A plan to execute your strategy might include policy and procedure changes, along with one or more additional products or services. You can check with peer groups, such as CFMA and the AICPA for ideas to get you started. Industry groups, such as the Association for Information and Image Management (AIIM) offer information. Look at existing products online. You don’t need to consider shopping at this point, but the lists of features may trigger some thoughts about your plan. LAI offers both TimberScan and Sage Paperless; talk to us about which works for your business.

Questions to start your plan:

  • Do you have an immediate need or goal? What about 5 years out or longer?
  • Is there one department or process that would have the most impact if it was handled without paper?
  • Can some processes by changed? Instead of scanning paper invoices, can they be delivered electronically from the beginning?
  • How does paper flow within your company now? Do the digital documents need to flow the same way, or can the process change?
  • Who would control the digital process? Just as someone is responsible for paper filing, someone needs to manage the capture, storage and retention of digital documents.
  • Do you have other digital content to include? This could be videos from project site web cams, photos, and recorded meeting minutes (where allowed). Does the non-paper content need to come under the same management process as the digital documents?
  • Will you need indexing? When searching for documents later, how do you need to find them?
  • Do you know the quantities involved? How many paper invoices or contracts do you have? The answer may help determine the type of scanning capability you need.
  • Is the capture likely to be centralized, or will people in multiple departments need to handle their own capture and storage?
  • Will the digital documents need to be available only on demand, or will they be “pushed” out?
  • What levels of security are needed? Is it defined by department, job role, or person?
  • How will you apply a record retention policy to the digital content? Do files need to be purged on a scheduled basis?
  • What documents still need to be retained as hard copies? Would they be stored only as hard copies, or in addition to the digital version?
  • Are there any legal questions to ask? Do you need to be concerned about the validity of signed, digital documents?
  • Where will employees be when they need to access digital content? Should there be a mobile access point?
  • How will you measure your goal? Is it quantitative gains—faster invoice approval or reduced postage cost? Is it qualitative gains—better access to information for project managers or more streamlined AP processes?
  • Is your user audience receptive? If users are not open to paperless solutions, you may need to plan on a bit more training and orientation at the beginning.
  • Will the answers lead to multiple solutions or implementations?

There may be more questions that your company needs to consider. LAI can help you with that! Call us at 480.423.8300 to find the ECM solution that integrates best with your current accounting technology suite.

Want to learn more about ECM and paperless? For Sage Paperless and/or TimberScan click HERE.