Enterprise document management software is all about faster access to the content and knowledge that can facilitate better decision-making and make workers more productive. But in many cases, document management software is so hard to use and files are so difficult to find that business users do an end run around the system, exacerbating the problems that led to ECM adoption in the first place.
There are several reasons why simply deploying ECM isn’t a quick fix for easy access to business documents. Here are three of the primary causes that make finding files in document management software a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack:
Siloed systems live on
The reality is that despite significant investments in ECM, many critical business documents still exist outside of the system. According to ECM at the Crossroads, a report produced by the Association for Information and Image Management, or AIIM, in 61% of organizations, half or more of their content is held outside of the ECM in other systems such as ERP, human resources, or finance. In other research, AIIM found that 65% of companies surveyed said they have a “somewhat disorganized” approach to content management.
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that if a document or file isn’t properly routed and stored in the core repository, then no amount of search or file management capability is going to unearth it in any kind of expedient fashion.
Most ECMs are hard to use
An easy-to-engage customer experience is what gets users to actually take advantage of a large enterprise system, and enterprise document management software is no exception. In its Forrester Wave for ECM for 2013 report, Forrester Research revealed that Analytics, File Sharing, Collaboration, and a focus on Usability are key differentiators, which is a definite departure from the past.
With such new user requirements in mind, modern-day ECMs should allow for files to be easily moved to the system via several methods, from drag and drop operations to automatic batch uploads. A system should also feel inviting for business users so it helps if it sports a graphical user interface that mimics familiar applications like Microsoft Office. In the same vein, direct integration with Microsoft’s popular productivity suite is another plus since it enables users to easily save documents from those tools directly into the ECM without having to learn additional commands.
Findability is often overlooked
High-end document management software does a lot of talking about meta data and other means of categorizing documents, but these methods may be too difficult for the average user to grasp and ultimately serve as a turn off to ECM systems. A document management system that can deliver advanced search and file management capabilities, including full text search, (like Contentverse) in the context of an easy-to-understand and highly accessible format will go a long way in helping business users locate what they’re after.
Familiar paradigms like folders, drawers, and filing cabinets not only help users more easily visualize how to store and retrieve documents, they also encourage more widespread use of the system, which in turn, enhances return on investment.
Effective file management doesn’t need to be a stumbling block to an enterprise document management software deployment. Choosing a system with the right blend of advanced search capabilities dressed up in an accessible user interface means users will spend less time looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack and instead, are productive right out of the gate.
A version of this article was published as So Why Are Files Still So Hard to Find? by Beth Stackpole on February 27th, 2014.
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