How to Select an ECM Part I: Creating a Short List

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Once you’ve determined that your company is in need of an ECM, the search for a suitable vendor begins. However, in a rapidly evolving industry that has been growing for over 30 years, the search can quickly become overwhelming. How can you come up with a manageable list of candidates when there are so many options? How can you be sure that you find the right match when so much is at stake? Luckily, there are a number of ways to narrow the playing field and target your best ECM options before you begin contacting vendors.

1. Evaluate Your Requirements

Before you begin looking at ECM options, it is important to understand which business processes and needs you want a vendor to address. Knowing what your needs are will help you target the right ECM product categories and immediately trim your list of vendors. Finding an ECM with capabilities that match your needs is the most crucial element of your search, so take time to evaluate your company before you evaluate vendors.

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2. Find Vendors Who Understand Your Industry

The needs addressed when deploying ECM solutions can vary between industries. For example, government agencies have numerous, strict regulations to contend with and accommodate in their ECM solutions, while companies in other sectors might not. Be sure that vendors are familiar with the nuances of your industry so that the product deployment process will go as smoothly as possible.

3. Find Proven ECMs

Be sure that you find an ECM that is going to be around for as long as your company. Choosing an established vendor will ensure that their post-implementation support will be available when you need it and that they will be committed to necessary updates for years to come. You should also look for vendors who offer customer references and then review them. ECMs that are built on extensive customer feedback tend to be more established and reliable than those that are not.

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4. Assess Each ECM from a Technical Standpoint

By the time you reach this step, you may already have a manageable list of ECM candidates, but it’s still important to trim any options where technology isn’t up to par. First and foremost, it’s important that the ECM has implemented and continues to maintain best practices in software development, ensuring that the architecture of their software will endure, even as development practices evolve. Additionally, a value-packed ECM will provide extensive functionality for your company without a ton of custom development before it’s useable, as well as flexible deployment options. It should also be scalable so that it can accommodate your company’s growth over time.

Once you have a manageable list of promising ECM candidates, it’s time to delve even deeper. In the next part of this series, we go over what you should look for as vendors present proposals and demos of their products.

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