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Guide to ECM Solutions

ECM systems are a means of organizing documents, and the content within them, using methods that relate to the users purpose. ECM solutions are aimed at improving the operational efficiency of managing information in terms cost and control.

Understanding how an ECM system serves your organization starts with analyzing operational processes relative to the functional components of an ECM solution.

Capture, Manage, Store, Preserve, and Deliver

The objective is to identify opportunities where technology can be applied to improve operational performance. Let’s briefly walk through the analysis of the five components.


Whether a document is created internally or received from an external source, it contains information relative to the operation. Select a type of document that drives your business and visualize how it is received and routed through your organization. Consider how many people handle and view a physical document as it works its way through your defined business process. If the document is an email, or email attachment, how many times is the information forwarded, and, how many copies are stored on how many machines? What information from the document is input to a line-of-business system? How is the information validated and verified? How long does the capture process take?


All documents have a management lifecycle through which they pass. The document and information is organized, reviewed, revised, extracted, merged, or duplicated until the lifecycle is complete. These actions may be performed by multiple users acting independently or in collaboration with others. Who organizes documents to enable the users to retrieve them? How do you control who has privileges to view each document and information? Are processes in place to ensure retention of the original document and track revision of the document? Is the document extracted and combined with other documents for use in reporting and auditing? Is information merged with other information to create a new document? Is the document duplicated for the purpose of publishing or distribution?


ECM storage is a combination of the document repository, typically a file system which contains the digital documents, and, the database which contains administrative properties of the documents. These work in concert to support all components of the ECM system. Storage solutions are designed with consideration for volume and speed required during the acquisition and delivery of information. What volume of documents will be captured during each month of the year? Will existing physical documents be converted to digital documents and captured? How often over their lifecycle will documents be retrieved? How do we ensure storage processing requirements don’t adversely impact the user’s experience?


ECM document preservation involves the long-term safe storage of documents and information designed to comply with corporate, industry, and government regulations. Over the documents lifecycle, content is less likely to be modified and becomes static. Preservation includes not only archiving digital files and media, but ensures access to documents and information as software applications change over time. The preservation process requires planning and consideration of special viewers, migration and conversion tools, and long-term storage media.

At what rate do your business documents change from dynamic to static? How do you organize static documents to ensure they are preserved until the end of their lifecycle? How do you verify the compatibility of existing documents with software as you upgrade?


The delivery component breaks down into three functions: transformation technology, security technology, and distribution.

These functions are important discriminating factors as they define the user’s experience and flexibility of the ECM system. Transformation technology enables the user to view documents in either the native format, or a variety of enhanced formats design to empower and enrich the user’s experience. Transformation capabilities allow users to customize the layout and design of documents intended for publishing or distribution i.e. reports, invoices, notifications.

Security technology controls not only access and use of documents and information, but controls the methods by which the document may be output and transmitted.

Distribution technology may include advanced printing capability, publishing to CD/DVD, and proprietary EDI formats specific to your industry.

How many ways do you deliver documents to clients, vendors, and customers today? How do you view your delivery methods changing in the future?

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There is a lot to consider... Why not contact Latitude 44 today to explore what technology is right for your organization.

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