Business process management (BPM) and enterprise content management (ECM) technology both offer considerable cost savings and ef?ciencies. Business processes are the lifeblood of any organisation.

It takes a process to handle customer inquiries, pay vendors, generate invoices, hire new employees, receive materials, create or renew contracts, enroll students, admit patients and everything else your organisation does every day. How well these processes are carried out is a key factor in the future success of the organisation.

And what about content? Well, you can ?nd that everywhere throughout your organisation, too. According to a report from Gartner, unstructured content (i.e., information that isn’t stored within the databases of core business applications), such as documents, images of forms, photographs, XML components, video clips, podcasts and email messages, now represents up to 80 percent of enterprise information.

Managing this information more ef?ciently means better use of human and physical resources, as employees can spend more time using information and less time looking for it. But what if you could bring ECM and BPM together to manage content more effectively and offer tangible improvements through process intelligence and process mining?

With BPM, you’d have the tools to design, implement and execute better processes (through workflows) and allow management to monitor activities, make changes easily and develop even more ef?ciencies. Effective ECM technology would enhance those processes even further by offering users and managers access to relevant information when they need it. Here are the top ten savings to be gained from bringing process and content management together.

  1.  Time

According to Coopers & Lybrand, nearly 75 percent of time spent working with paper-based information is wasted in searching and ?ling. Integrated ECM software provides powerful automated capture, search and work?ow options that streamline tedious document intensive activities like these, so that workers can complete more work in a day.

Cumbersome processes are also huge time wasters. Poor practices may have evolved because no standard was ever established or the “of?cial” process is so in?exible, workarounds simply have become the standard. BPM technology allows process managers to map out processes, visualise them and build in best practices. Flexible process systems allow knowledge workers to choose their own process path to better suit customer needs and still be as efficient as possible.

  1.  Space

When business processes require lots of paper, that paper requires lots of storage. More storage equals less space for more important uses like people and equipment. With the document imaging functionality of an ECM system, you can quickly and easily capture, store and organise millions of paper documents into a secure, electronic repository.

  1.  Money

Ef?ciency and success can mean a lot of things but in business they translate as money — how to control costs, yet maintain a high level of productivity and service. ECM by its very de?nition eliminates manual paperwork and all that comes with it — overhead costs for paper, toner, couriers, postage and additional staff hours are reduced, or can be erased immediately. BPM technology can have similarly dramatic effects when inef?cient procedures are analysed and replaced with effective processes that automate simple tasks and make use of better communications vehicles.

  1.  Resources

Your resources — human or otherwise — are valuable and using them wisely can save the organisation tremendous costs. Paper-intensive activities contribute to a great deal of waste in time, money and energy.

  1.  Headaches

Unfortunately, there’s no tablet for the headaches brought on by process bottlenecks and resource limitations. And the traditional methods of pinpointing those issues — extensive interviews, long group meetings, miles of paperwork and wall-sized whiteboards — are slow and can create as many problems as they’re meant to solve.

A BPM solution bypasses manual discovery altogether. Using data from the core business applications, existing processes can be objectively analysed and modelled, to see what’s going on in your existing work?ow. Then you can compare current processes to the ideal situation and test different resolutions in a virtual environment — without using real-world time and resources. So you save yourself a lot of time, effort … and headaches.

If just the idea of adopting new technology makes your head throb, think about choosing deployment options that take the burden off your IT team’s shoulders. Software as a service (SaaS) and hosted deployment are just two alternatives to the traditional means of licensing and managing ECM or BPM technology on your own. These options can provide great ?exibility and value, while you focus on your business and customers, instead of BPM and ECM software support and infrastructure.

  1.  A tree or two

Going green is a common theme in both the private and public sectors. So it seems only ?tting that organisations increasingly see streamlining processes with document imaging and document management software — two core components of ECM — as a strategic element of their green initiatives.

  1.  Data integrity

Regardless of your organisation’s size or line of business, compliance and regulations are always a critical point of concern — not to mention disaster recovery. While various regulations may be aimed at speci?c industries or areas of business, they all essentially require organisations to address three key issues — data integrity, con?dentiality and accessibility.

That means you must preserve the integrity and con?dentiality of your records and be able to produce them in an appropriate and timely manner. Without a centralised repository to store the vast amounts of unstructured data generated across your organisation, meeting regulatory requirements is almost impossible.

Ultimately, compliance and disaster recover hinge on security. Using ECM that provides a central, secure electronic repository for all important documents and content is the ?rst step. Advanced document and system security measures, such as digital signatures, authentication and auditing capabilities, also should be built into your ECM software technology to protect every document stored in the system, whilst BPM will enable you to identify and improve weak spots in processes, ensuring tasks are only performed by authorised personnel in-line with regulatory parameters, and providing a clear audit trail.

So whether you are handling sensitive patient information, highly classi?ed documents or just everyday invoices, you can be con?dent that your documents are safe, secure and in the right hands.

  1.  Customers satisfaction

Customer service can become a meaningless phrase if it often involves long waits, lots of questions, representatives who don’t have access to the right information and the inevitable callbacks. ECM and BPM, however, can streamline procedures used to answer customer queries by giving your staff fast access to the tools and information they need to resolve issues quickly. When you can automate business processes, the ef?ciency and accuracy is evident to your customers. Better customer service increases the likelihood of repeat business, customer loyalty and advocacy.

  1.  Competitive advantage

Businesses are always looking for ways to set themselves apart and outpace the competition. But gimmicks and marketing ploys are no match for creating genuine operational ef?ciency, quality of service and bottom-line sustainability. By adopting BPM and ECM technology that lays the framework for these bene?ts, you can solidify your reputation among not just your peers, but the greater business community, as a market leader and an innovator.

  1.  Your seat at the big table

We’ve come full circle to your original mission — ?nding a solution that will save your organisation time and money by addressing a multitude of inef?ciencies that may be plaguing a single area, or your entire organisation. Your organisation’s leadership is looking to you for guidance and results that will bring immediate positive impact on costs and ef?ciency, and quick return on investment — but also long-term bene?ts and opportunities for expansion and growth.

By exploring the combined impact of ECM and BPM you will discover that by simply putting your documents and content into the context of your everyday business processes, you can make dramatic gains in operational ef?ciency and cost-savings.