Four stages of Enterprise Content Management maturity

by Ernst van Rheenen, on Jul 14, 2016 2:22:06 PM

In recent years we have been spoiled with the rapid development of technology. All kinds of smart internet services and gadgets have made our lives easier, and more fun. At the same time, it seems the information management in the workplace - particularly unstructured content – has been held back from these new developments.

Fortunately, organizations are increasingly realizing that they must change the way they deal with unstructured content. Compliance with new legislation and regulations, and improving ease of use are two of the main drivers.


The changes are coming quickly, and we see information management in organizations evolving rapidly. We see that organizations almost always go through the same stages:

Stage 1:

The digitization of all content in the organization, or the creation of a paperless office. Incoming mail is scanned, and there is a shared network available to store all internal and policy documents. Most organizations are (just) at this stage, about 90% of the enterprise content management systems. Their most immediate question is: "How can we move this mess into a more manageable document management system?" The volumes and the challenges they are facing are so large, that they often do not know how to begin and how they get to the second stage.

Stage 2:

A document management system is introduced and implemented according the existing business processes and workflows. The focus is often on quality: the reduction of ROT data, the identification of duplicates, and the improvement of the structure.

The major stumbling block in the transition from stage 1 to stage 2 is that organizations are perfectionists, and they use the motto: "We're going to do really well." Therefore, the project is too large and difficult to actually pull it off. A small pragmatic approach is better, with taking in account of the fact that another improvement is made after 2 to 3 years (stage 3).

Stage 3:

Digital processes significantly change the way the original business is run. What at first seemed like a logical implementation, appears not so practical upon closer inspection.

In the third stage organizations again start with document management and try to use the system in the optimal way, taking into account all lessons learned from the past periods.

Data must be transferred here from the one complex DMS to another. The focus in this stage lies in adapting structure to the new business processes, and the optimization of the metadata, for example, by adding business rules and automated classification.

Stage 4:

Decentralization is the key word at this stage. Organizations realize that there is generally not a single central document management solution which is sufficient for the entire organization. Different types of processes ask for different types of software - mostly cloud - solutions. Organizations deploy these (cloud) solutions to manage a particular business process.  Questions like "what content goes straight to the cloud?", and "on what conditions?" must be answered here.

Remain in the stone age?
As stated before, most organizations are in the first stage. A smaller number of organizations have made the transition to structured document management a few years ago, and are now eager to update their systems so that they meet current requirements.

A very small number of organizations (<1%) are steps ahead and explore the use of multiple specialized solutions in a fully integrated environment, such as OpenText for records management, SharePoint for collaboration, Salesforce CRM and SAP HANA for ERP.

At what stage is your organization? Will you remain in the stone age, or are you moving forward?

Topics:Enterprise Content ManagementCloud


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