There’s an unfortunate reality to technology:
As soon as you implement a solution…
… it’s only a matter of time until it has to be replaced.
Philosophical questions aside, in this article we explore how to identify when it’s time to evaluate your enterprise content management (ECM) tools, and how to recognize if it’s time to replace them.
1. Is your ECM strategy or tool cloud-based?
The first sign you need to think about evaluating your ECM is if it’s not in the cloud.
Cloud technology and the software services it powers offer numerous benefits for organizations.
When it comes to ECM tools, cloud-based solutions are the way to go:
They facilitate centralization and collaboration
They make dynamic content possible
They allow content to be accessed by anyone, anywhere in the world
They’re infinitely scalable.
What’s more, a broader discussion about the role content can play in business strategy is lost without the assumption of cloud infrastructure.
Even if the content is stored on-premise, a cloud-based tool will likely be needed to access and leverage that content.
So if your content is totally on-prem based, it’s probably time to evaluate your ECM options.
2. Do you have a content strategy that drives towards business objectives?
What role does content play in your overall business strategy?
Enterprises are both:
- Realizing they have access to great content, and
Realizing that content collation, production, and distribution is an effective way to drive sales.
These dual realizations have created an opportunity for enterprises to use the content they have to achieve business goals.
If your content strategy isn’t driving business strategy, it might be time to revisit your ECM tools.
First, it means you’re not leveraging your content effectively. If you’re not driving business goals, there are opportunities you’re not exploring.
For instance, if your sales team needs to source information from 10 different sources in order to build a custom proposal each time they’re closing a deal, that’s time they’re not spending doing something else.
Second, it means there is duplicate work being done again and again. If your content isn’t driving business strategy, you’re probably producing similar or the same documents again and again without knowing it.
Without a discussion of where your content fits into an overall business structure, there’s no shared understanding of what you have and what you need. It means the work you do have is being underused, and your content production costs remain high.
3. Is your content tracked, organized, and stored?
A recurring theme we see with ECM is around content tracking, organization, and storage – or lack thereof.
To be blunt, it’s impossible to achieve organizational efficiencies or drive business goals with content if you don’t know what content you have.
What’s more, informal communication like email forms the bulk of institutional memory, and there’s enormous value in that content if it can be catalogued easily. That’s the crux of why Slack is so successful: it’s searchable informal communication.
For instance, imagine you’re embarking on a sales enablement project.
According to the Sales Enablement Playbook, the most valuable content is snippets, conversations, quips, and other micro-content that salespeople can use to move a prospect.
But unless that micro-content is archived and searchable, it simply lives in people’s heads and isn’t leveraged across the enterprise.
That same rationale applies to any content owned by an enterprise. Plus, once the content is searchable, it can be used dynamically and automatically dropped into locations where it’s going to offer the most value.
For instance, imagine IKEA didn’t need to reproduce a set of instructions for every piece of furniture they make, and instead by simply tagging the parts used, the instructional content was auto-generated from a central repository where instructions are linked to parts.
That sort of dynamism is exactly the cost-saving measure an ECM can provide.
4. What does content mean to your organization?
Content means many different things to many different people:
Customer success thinks of instructional content and knowledge bases
Marketing thinks of inbound content marketing and outbound efforts like ads, partnerships, and emails
Sales think of scripts, presentations and enablement pieces
Operations thinks of manuals
Engineers think of technical specifications.
But the reality is, all of these are content pieces, in part because there is a lot of repurposing. Marketing content and sales scripts should overlap a lot.
Customer success content should be used by sales to drive new business because the pain points they uncover and address with a knowledge base can be used to inform script creation.
And manuals and specifications go hand-in-hand by default.
This natural overlap means it is important to define what content means at an organizational level:
Who owns it? Who produces it? Who oversees it?
What infrastructure is needed to support it and how does that happen?
These sorts of questions can only be answered comprehensively if there’s already a shared understanding of what content means for an organization.
If there isn’t, it is time to evaluate your content strategy and ECM tools.
Content is increasingly important to organizations to help drive business goals. However, at the same time organizations are increasingly incapable of dealing with the complexities of the content they own while also producing more in a thoughtful, cost-effective way.
Enterprises need to think about what tools they have in place now, what role content plays in their business strategy, whether or not the existing tools can track and organize content at an enterprise level, and what content means for their organization.
Once these have been answered, organizations are much better positioned to evaluate the question at hand:
Should we be thinking about a new ECM tool?