The majority of organizations are still using email as a fundamental tool for collaboration between their employees. In fact, the number of emails will only increase by time as we tend to use it for internal and external communications, email archiving, and collaboration in our day to day activities.
In addition to emails, some organizations adapted the usage of enterprise file sharing and syncing applications such as Dropbox to allow employees to share their documents. Even though this might be sufficient for small companies, it will surely become a problem to manage all their information in this manner.
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Medium to large companies today should invest in an ECM solution for a lot of reasons as detailed in this article and one of them is to focus on improving collaboration among employees, partners, and customers by connecting people and processes to circulate ideas, promote creativity, and share knowledge.
A decent ECM solution should provide ways to improve collaboration between employees. As documents reside in one centralized store, the solution must be able to easily share documents between team members.
By sharing a document, explicit permissions are given to another team member(s) for simple or advanced collaboration.
Provides the most basic mechanism: View, edit, or comment
View only: Temporary access to a read only version of the document is provided to the party.
Edit mode: Temporary access to modify basic document fields, metadata, or attachment.
Comment: Users can leave basic comments (text) on the document and attach files. Notifications will make sure the appropriate team members receive comments updates.
Mechanisms to view and collaborate on virtually any type of document in your system should be available. Basically from the solution, there should be a way to share documents with external entities having no access to your system and with internal departments or employees to do advanced operations.
Integration with EFSS (Enterprise File Sharing & Syncing): Because EFSS applications such as Dropbox is being used widely in organizations, ECM solutions should have integration with well known providers to give the ability to share the content residing in your system with external parties. In fact in a report published by Gartner, they added this option as a must have in any ECM solution.
Annotation Tool: Collaborators should easily see if markups exist on a document & open them to see who said what, when, and add their own comments. In addition to having the ability to burn markups into a PDF for external usage. The below represents the top features to look for
- Handles a large number of native formats: PDF, AutoCAD, Word, Excel, etc.
- Parallel Collaboration
- Rich markup toolbox of shapes & text
- Web and Mobile support.
- Markups (Annotations) stored as a separate layer of the document
- Markups stored as documents with new version for each edit
- History Tracking for every markup and easily accessible timestamp
- Ability to assign markups colors by Discipline
To sum up, a decent collaboration module in an ECM solution have a very big role on how your organizations operate on their day to day activities. Having the above in mind, will help you gain more productivity, cut expenses and promote creativity.