What is ECM and how it relates to SharePoint?

There are lot of confusions surrounding the terms ECM (Enterprise Content Management System). Just Google it and you will find thousands of definitions but IMHO they all will confuse you further 🙂

Being a SharePoint technologist, you must have a fairly good idea about these terms and what they actually mean to any organization. To understand the ECM concept, some fundamental points needs to be understood:

  • An information is any thing i.e. Emails, Tasks, Files (Physical or electronic), Contact Information, Invoices, Payslips, Agreements, RFCs, Diagrams, Web Pages, Security Logs, Videos etc which helps perform day to day business of the organization.
  • Any information generated in your organization needs to be managed in some way.
  • Management of information means you are able to store it, find it, relate it to other information and destroy it when appropriate.
  • Management of information must follow some rules dictated firstly by government laws and then by organizational policies.

Having these points in our mind, here is what ECM is

An ECM enables you to manage information by providing relevant tools and technologies such as software for file management from FileCenter, as one example.

OK, OK,….what SharePoint is doing with ECM?

SharePoint is providing you tools and technologies to manage your enterprise information.

Tools? Where are these tools? Here they are:

  1. Document Library and document management through web browser.
  2. Content creation, retrieval through Office Applications like Word, Excel, Outlook etc.
  3. Use Visio for process/status monitoring.
  4. BI Dashboards for enterprise data.
  5. Seamless browsing, editing of information of external systems by BCS etc

Hmmm… ok but am still confused about technologies… Technologies are:

  1. Workflows to route the documents as per company requirements.
  2. Security Framework to securely authenticate and authorize the user access to information.
  3. Content Retention policy framework to safely dispose contents when they are no longer needed.
  4. Record Management to easily locate the content.
  5. Version Management to track changes.
  6. Auditing to track the actions performed in a given time period.
  7. APIs to enable third party applications to explore and manage information in a secure, traceable and manageable manner.

Good…I think I got some idea…but am still confused….just kidding :):)


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