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ECM, "The Dragon" to Deliver Business Value

By Thomas Phelps IV, CIO & VP-Corporate Strategy, Laserfiche

Thomas Phelps IV, CIO & VP-Corporate Strategy, Laserfiche

At a recent CIO summit on the topic of shrinking IT budgets, a CIO spoke up and said that board level discussions about IT governance should not be about how IT enables the business. Instead, the conversation needs to be reframed around how IT is the business. Aligning IT to strategically achieve business objectives involves more than just pursuing a seat at the table in making technology investment decisions or combating the proliferation of shadow IT. CIOs need to reposition IT through five levers defined by the IT Governance Institute: business strategic alignment, value delivery, risk management, resource management, and performance measurement.

One key metric in realigning IT is the percentage of IT spend focused on “keeping the lights on” versus business innovation. With a number of IT organizations still having to support legacy homegrown applications, the ratio is frequently skewed in the wrong direction. Using the 80/20 rule—this often means that 80 percent of IT spend is focused on maintenance.

The question becomes: how does IT balance the demands to drive operational efficiency and deliver technology innovation—all while managing costs?

The answer: by leveraging an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system to automate, optimize and transform your business processes.

“ECM enables organizations not just to digitize their document-based business processes but to optimize and reengineer them, transforming the way they work," states IDC’s Melissa Webster, VP-Content and Digital Media Strategies.

Integrating ECM without IT Application Development

ECM integrates with email and third party applications to quickly create workflows with multiple decision trees, electronic forms that auto-calculates numbers such as an insurance claim form or expense report, and digital signatures to sign documents on demand. A typical business user can configure, test, and deploy a new form and the relevant process workflow in just a few hours—without IT application development. And this is accomplished while ensuring appropriate policies, business rules, and security controls are followed. Add in records management and audit trail that tracks every action—including who may have peeked at a sensitive document—and now you have a robust solution that also addresses regulatory compliance needs.

Improving Security and Compliance

ECM allows companies to reduce costs, reduce complexity, implement controls, and improve compliance in a highly regulated business environment. Healthcare payers and providers can enable their HIPAA compliance officer to track, manage and renew business associate agreements (BAAs) with vendors using metadata, document versioning, and workflow. Banks can ensure that appropriate controls and approvals for wire transfers. They are implemented and auditable using electronic approval forms and audit trail. Major motion picture studios can securely share their scripts and content with directors, actors, and post-production houses without fearing prelease content leakage on torrent services.

Regardless of the alphabet soup of regulations—SOX, SEC, FINRA, GLBA Section 501(b), FFIEC Vendor and Third- Party Management, HIPAA Security, FDA 21 CFR Part 11 and others, controls are embedded into the life cycle of each business process.

Driving Transformation with Case Management, Collaboration, and Content Analytics

The adoption of ECM often leads to applications for case management, collaboration and content analytics. According to IDC, a case management framework is a powerful agent of business process transformation. “Case management frameworks dramatically reduce development costs and accelerate time to market for this class of applications; and their foundation in ECM/BPM—together with analytics— enables continuous business process improvement,” said Webster. Whether it’s managing a dossier of documents through various lifecycle stages with “case owners” or delivering a better customer experience, ECM systems can scale up to handle case management needs.

Heifer International is a nonprofit organization that needed to scale up its technology platform. With projects involving sustainable agriculture in 30 countries around the world, Heifer wanted to leverage content and knowledge from helping more than 25 million families in its 71-year history. Staff in remote locations who worked with families in the developing world needed the ability to collaborate with headquarters staff in Little Rock, AR.

“Helping just one family could take dozens of vendors, several government organizations, hundreds of legal contracts and extensive collaboration,” said Bob Bloom, EVP and CFO of Heifer International.

“We needed innovation. We needed technologies that can help us achieve our mission better, faster. Automating our internal business processes using Laserfiche electronic forms and workflow is part of our technology transformation that enables our mission in fighting hunger and poverty.”

It’s Good to Have Dragons

As Sharon Fisher writes in Simplicity 2.0 on the Five Business Takeaways from “Game of Thrones,” it’s good to have dragons. Successful CIOs are the ones who can describe technology in business terms. They are also able to identify and leverage the one good thing that your company controls or possesses that nobody else does. And in the case of most organizations, that “dragon” is unlocking the value of the content managed by an ECM system to drive innovation and align IT with the business.

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