b2ap3_thumbnail_Integration_gears_20130719-141953_1.jpgWhile enterprise content management (ECM) systems provide significant benefits by themselves, even greater gains can be achieved by integrating ECM systems with other line-of-business systems.
Organizations can derive significant value from the integration of their ECM system with installed business systems such as SAP, Microsoft Dynamics, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards, and many others. Benefits that can be gained include streamlined business processes, greater worker productivity, improved customer service, cost savings, better insight into financials, and strategic intelligence.
In an AIIM survey, the three biggest business benefits respondents cited for integrating ERP (enterprise resource planning) and ECM systems were productivity gains they achieved from:
1. Linking document and process workflows
2. Improved customer service
3. Knowledge sharing
These findings jibe with Aberdeen Group’s research on workflow and invoice automation, which described how best-in-class companies achieve the biggest benefits by integrating invoice processing with back-end ERP and financial systems. Aberdeen Group advises companies to pursue comprehensive accounts payable automation, including integration of ECM with backend systems and the implementation of performance dashboards to monitor results and make refinements.
Information at Your Fingertips
Integration of ECM with other business systems typically yields greater efficiency and productivity by reducing the steps workers must take to access and use information. When customer records are stored in separate systems, customer queries and disputes can involve time-consuming searches for documents. This can alienate customers and make workers less productive.
Integration enables a claims or customer service representative to easily and immediately access customer records by having the information at their fingertips rather than having to leave one system and conduct separate time-consuming searches.
Banks and healthcare organizations, for example, can derive benefits from integrating their ECM systems with their core banking and healthcare systems. Requests from customers for details of their banking or healthcare records can be settled more quickly and easily when the records are easily accessible.
Manufacturers can derive similar benefits from integrating their ECM systems with their sales order, accounts payable, and inventory systems. The aim is to achieve greater efficiency and productivity by making the associated documents of business processes easily accessible. As AIIM explains, these could be invoices, remittance notes, delivery notes, claim forms, product data sheets, customer correspondence, quality reports, contract proposals, asset drawings and appraisement reports.
Leading capture vendor Kofax describes how advantages can be gained by taking an enterprise approach to document capture through the immediate delivery of extracted data directly into workflows and business systems—including transactional and time-sensitive business processes like mortgage approvals and insurance claims.
Similarly, Derrick Murphy explains how the integration of ECM and back-end systems can improve responsiveness and customer service by eliminating downstream exceptions.
Integration of ECM and business intelligence systems also can make data available for a host of business intelligence purposes—including trend analysis, financial planning, operational insights, and market strategy. Financial planners can gain deeper and more immediate insights into the financial state of the business, including cash flow, while market strategists can identify buying patterns and spot new business opportunities.
Wendi Klein of A2iA describes how isolated archives can become “intelligent archives” via data extraction and sharing. The increase in accessible and searchable information from a central repository, says Klein, “not only speeds knowledge distribution, but it elevates the organization’s global intelligence.”
Similarly, Sciquest/WinGreen Marketing Systems explains how automating accounts payable can enable business intelligence systems to capture and analyze purchasing data that can improve a company’s competitiveness. WinGreen advises organizations to begin creating business intelligence processes and analytics for the automation of accounts payable during the planning and implementation stages of document imaging.
Why a Systems Integrator?
Companies differ in their forms, procedures, and workflows, so the integration of business systems is rarely straightforward. Because no two companies’ business processes are same, an experienced systems integrator can analyze a business process and give that organization the best integration approaches. (See “Like Snowflakes, No Two Document Imaging Deployments Are the Same”).
Vendors have reduced some of the complexity of point-to-point integrations by providing ready-made connections between some product sets, as well as application programming interfaces (APIs). However, there are many integration scenarios that require unique approaches and methods.
With the emergence of cloud computing, new ECM integration opportunities and scenarios have become possible, including pure in-the-cloud and hybrid on-premises and in-the-cloud combinations, which can include SharePoint and non-SharePoint solutions.
A good systems integrator will take the time to analyze the business process and consult with the client in great detail to achieve the best integration approaches and solution sets.
To learn more about ECM integration and how it can help you business, contact the experts at Imaging Solutions.
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