Communications of the Association for Information Systems


Enterprise content management (ECM) is an integrated approach to managing all of an organization's information including paper documents, data, reports, web pages, and digital assets. ECM includes the strategies, tools, processes, and skills an organization needs to manage its information assets over their lifecycle. While many vendors would suggest that their software is a panacea, most knowledge managers recognize the greater challenge - to develop an overall ECM strategy that will ensure good information practices are in place and effectively integrated with technology where appropriate. An effective ECM strategy should address each of the four lifecycle stages: 1. Capture - all activities associated with collecting content. 2. Organize - indexing, classifying and linking content and databases together to provide access within and across business units and functions. 3. Process - sifting and analyzing content in ways that inform decision-making. 4. Maintain - ensuring that content is kept up-to-date. A guiding principle at all stages is flexibility. Methods of collecting, organizing, processing and maintaining content that "casts it in concrete" could become a liability in the near future. While the top-down vision for ECM includes improved decision-making, better utilization of information and the collection of competitive intelligence, most ECM initiatives take a bottom-up approach that focuses on delivering immediate benefits through projects such as intranet portals, information searching, and web content management. However, knowledge managers also recognize that greater value can be gained from taking a more strategic approach to ECM. The research shows that those organizations that can marry effective content stewardship practices with appropriate information behaviors and values and information technology on a broader scale can have a significant effect on their organization's performance.