Companies that must improve how they manage content across the enterprise — that is to say, most companies (see sidebar) — often look to point solutions for quick fixes to whatever content problem currently seems the most pressing. But these point solutions often provide only weak records management and archiving capabilities, modest web content management capabilities, and limited imaging capabilities.
Rather than depending on a patchwork of loosely connected band-aid solutions, SAP customers should instead consider an enterprise-grade management solution that will allow them to integrate both SAP and non-SAP content — a solution like the SAP Extended Enterprise Content Management (SAP Extended ECM) application by OpenText.
An ECM Solution Built for the Long Haul
When you purchase enterprise software, like SAP Business Suite solutions, you know you’re making a long-term investment. Your ECM investment should be no different. Enterprise software applications — like SAP Extended ECM — are, by definition, designed for the long term, while point solutions don’t always stand up to the test of time.
When you purchase enterprise software, you receive a commitment from the vendor to support that software and make it easy to upgrade along with the rest of your landscape and components. In fact, in most cases, the implementation time and total cost of ownership for an enterprise application will be much lower than for a host of point solutions; the enterprise application provides broader functionality, includes standard capabilities that are configured rather than customized, and will not need to be separately upgraded or discarded when other parts of the landscape are upgraded.
SAP Extended ECM also has the added benefit of being an SAP solution extension, which means that it meets SAP’s robust product standards and ensures end-to-end supportability with service level agreements designed for business-critical and mission-critical applications.
For example, SAP Extended ECM provides business workspaces that make it easy to maintain complex taxonomies for filing content. These taxonomies are synchronized with SAP master data and process structures. Also, users can easily access the content in the SAP Extended ECM business workspace from SAP UI technologies, Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Explorer, or WebDAV.
SAP Extended ECM is also integrated with SAP Business Suite software, enabling users to manage even unstructured content within the context of the business processes and transactions that are supported by their enterprise applications.
Point solutions, on the other hand, move content management outside of the SAP system. So, without a strategy for embedding content directly in the user’s applications, this content is filed with missing or mismatched taxonomy and classification, making it difficult, if not impossible, to consistently identify important business records or deliver related content directly to the business user in the interface of his or her choice.
A Full Range of Capabilities
SAP Extended ECM also offers a host of capabilities that point solutions alone simply can’t match.
Improve productivity by making content accessible. In many organizations, business users must log in to multiple systems and search them independently for the pieces of information relating to a particular transaction — an inefficient process, to say the least. SAP Extended ECM improves productivity by providing unified 360-degree access to structured and unstructured information in a choice of interfaces. SAP software users have access through their standard SAP interfaces, and non-SAP users have access through the SAP Extended ECM web interface.
Empower teams with collaboration capabilities. To enable collaboration, SAP Extended ECM provides the means for combining the collaboration and productivity environments of Microsoft with SAP’s enterprise applications, business data, and process solutions. SAP Extended ECM allows you to include all appropriate stakeholders, both within and outside of the organization, in these collaborative processes, providing access to non-SAP users through familiar interfaces like Microsoft Office, SharePoint, Outlook, and Lotus Notes, or through secure, extranet workspaces.
Reduce risks and litigation costs by managing corporate records. The exponential growth of unmanaged, unstructured content is a growing regulatory and legal risk for many organizations. Valuable content might not be fully leveraged, the wrong people may have access to it, or it may be lost in a disaster. Obsolete content may be kept unnecessarily, driving up storage costs. And, without auditable content, companies may find themselves at odds with various regulations.
SAP Extended ECM mitigates these risks by applying records management classifications to both structured and unstructured content to control its entire life cycle. It can be configured to apply records management classifications to documents automatically to ensure consistency and accuracy. SAP Extended ECM also enables you to track and manage the life cycle of physical objects, such as boxes of files.
Reduce costs by digitizing paper processes. Companies can achieve cost reductions by digitizing paper files and integrating the content of those documents into core business processes. By digitizing paper, the cost of physical storage space can be eliminated; the risk of loss due to a fire, flood, or other disaster is greatly diminished; and the content is made available to all users electronically at the same time. SAP Extended ECM supports the digitization of paper through its scanning function. The function also supports bar code recognition, enabling quick input of paper-based information.
Reduce IT operating costs by archiving SAP data and reports. To help IT manage huge volumes of information, SAP Extended ECM includes archiving capabilities to compress content, eliminate duplicates, and reduce storage costs. Also, companies planning to upgrade or decommission SAP applications can use this functionality to archive data and documents from the production database. SAP Extended ECM is certified for SAP NetWeaver Information Lifecycle Management and is the preferred archiving solution to complement that data extraction method.
Get Maximum Value from Your Content
Companies looking to manage their content absolutely need ECM functionality. But for those looking to truly leverage their information, making it accessible to users who will get the most value out of it and ensuring that it becomes an integral part of the business process, point solutions will not be enough. These companies need a holistic solution that ties into their native SAP systems and solutions — SAP Extended ECM. For more details, visit http://ecohub.sdn.sap.com/irj/ecohub/solutions/ExtendedECM.
Bil Khan (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an IT professional with a record of driving profitability, expanding market share, and spurring global growth for high-tech entities by implementing strategic and pragmatic programs and managing solution portfolios. He received his MBA in marketing from Pennsylvania State University and earned his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas.
See “PDFs and Emails and Audio Files, Oh My! Link Unstructured Content to Business Processes with SAP Extended ECM” in the April-June 2010 issue of SAPinsider. [back]