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May 10, 2024
May 10, 2024
XX min read

Choosing the Best Enterprise Content Management Software

Consider this buyer’s guide the only one you need to decide which is the best enterprise content management (ECM) software for your business. 

According to research, 73% of organizations have a content marketing strategy in place. But can they really handle the HUGE library of information with just that? 

Some probably do. But for those who struggle with it, there’s a better way to streamline your document management. 

Through ECM, you can organize and edit unstructured content quickly, improving business efficiency and reducing costs. 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. We’re not fans of spoilers. So go ahead and start reading about what ECM is, the best options for your business, and key tips for choosing your solution. 

Disclaimer: This blog post was last updated on March 12, 2024.

What is Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Software?

ECM software is an easy way to manage, organize, and retrieve unstructured data at an enterprise level. 

In a nutshell, it allows authorized users (from employees and clients to business partners) to access different types of content like meeting notes, web pages, images, PDFs, emails, and invoices. 

An ECM platform works well for strictly regulated industries, including supply chain, healthcare, and human resources.

There are a few common types of ECM:  

  • Document Management Systems (DMS) which focus on storing and managing digital content. 
  • Records Management Systems for managing the lifecycle of records, including creation and retention. 
  • Digital Asset Management (DAM) Systems that help take care of digital content such as images, videos, or audio files. 

With the global ECM market estimated to grow in revenue ($114 billion by the end of 2035) this is the right moment to invest in ECM. 

But how exactly does it work? 

How Does Enterprise Content Management Work?

ECM’s purpose is simple. It eliminates the need for paper documents and helps streamline your business processes.

Think of it as your central repository for all your company’s information. This solution works day and night to automate your data flow and organize the info outside your structured databases. 

The process starts by collecting data from various sources, such as emails, PDFs, images, and even social media posts. 

Then, the ECM solution stores and indexes the data in a single centralized place where users can easily retrieve the relevant piece of information they seek. Plus, you can categorize the data however you want based on specific criteria. 

However, not everyone can access the ECM system. Most solutions have permission features that let you select who views, edits, or deletes content. Moreover, with version-control capabilities, you get the latest version of the doc. So there’s no confusion over who made a change and when. 

Another great way ECM simplifies your life is through workflow automation. It automates boring tasks such as data entry. Your employees will focus more on time-sensitive tasks while receiving the right info when they need it most. 

This all sounds fine and dandy but what’s the payoff? See for yourself. 

What Are the Benefits of Using ECM Software?

Unfortunately, the average worker spends around 20% of their workweek searching for the info they need or bothering their busy colleagues. 

If only they had a solution that could significantly raise their productivity and enable more effective collaboration…

Wait, there is one! Its name is content management. And it helps you: 

  • Boost company efficiency: ECM eliminates the need for paper docs and brings you the data you need quickly. As a result, since your flow is more efficient, you enjoy various benefits like faster time to market. 
  • Access your data faster: No more wasting time searching for that one specific note you need but can’t remember where it is. A good ECM solution gives you easy access to your data wherever you work. 
  • Improve customer experiences: ECM’s are not just for employees. Clients can use it to retrieve vital information about the company, such as orders, products, etc., which helps improve customer satisfaction rates and even close more sales. 
  • Reduce labor costs: ECM saves you money since you don’t need to hire specialized staff for manual tasks. Furthermore, you have access to data in real time, enabling you to make better business decisions regarding your operations. 
  • Have a clear view of your business: An ECM platform gives you a more accurate picture of your business by collecting all data in a single source of truth. Since you leave no insight behind, you and everyone else can make better data-driven decisions. 

Maybe these benefits convinced you that ECM is the right solution for your business. That’s great! The problem is, where do you start? What features do you keep an eye out for? 👀

Let’s look at an ECM’s essential features together.

What Key Features Should an ECM Solution Have?

When evaluating an ECM solution, there are plenty of things to consider, like ease of use or whether it offers free trials or not. 

As long as you know your needs and requirements, it’s pretty easy to find the right solution. 

But there are a few must-have features you shouldn’t skip: 

  • Integration with existing apps: Tired of searching for the right piece of information on ten different apps? An ECM tool can solve that problem as long as it has API integration options with your existing tools. As a result, you have a complete library of data at your fingertips. 
  • Advanced search functionalities: You need data FAST. If your chosen software takes ages to retrieve what you need, then it’s no good. The ECM solution of your choice should offer advanced and fast search features so you can quickly access your data. 
  • Security and compliance features: An ECM platform works with private company information. So it must have robust user access level verification and should comply with industry standards and regulations. 
  • Version and history control options: Most ECM platforms have customization features that let you store your data however you want. But they should also offer a way of tracking the edit history to see who made any changes. Plus, a rollback feature is excellent when you want to return to an earlier file version. 

  • Powerful analytics: Your chosen ECM needs powerful analytics tools that can measure and evaluate your data quickly. It provides you with relevant insights, such as suggestions for improvement and customer trends, for better decision-making. 

Now that you know what to look for in your ECM solution, it’s time for the main section of this article. 

The 10 Best ECM Software Solutions in 2024

So many tools, so little time to evaluate them all. 😮‍💨 

According to a Forrester report, there are 14 ECM products with >$20 million in revenue. But that is four too many — we made sure our list only included the best of the best. 

Let’s explore these options together. 

1. Guru

Guru is not just a great AI-powered company wiki

Aside from being a one-stop shop for all your company’s knowledge, it also has enterprise AI search and an employee intranet hub for more effective collaboration. 

Which means it’s much more effective in rounding up your knowledge from all your data sources. And giving relevant and timely information back to your teams when they need it, no matter where they work. 

Guru also eliminates switching apps completely. This platform integrates with many API connectors you use daily like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Box, Salesforce, and more. 

Accessing data from anywhere has never been easier! 

Moreover, Guru has automated clean-up. It schedules periodic verification and archiving to ensure your knowledge base is always up to date, helping maintain its accuracy. 

If you’re experiencing writer’s block when dealing with content creation, Guru has templates to make your life easier. Plus, you get your very own AI assistant, powered by generative AI, to summarize complex topics or craft the content for you. 

Guru uses AI and machine learning to improve your search. Besides, since it’s constantly learning new things, Guru can always provide you with timely, fresh, and relevant insights. 

When it comes to analyzing your data, Guru offers powerful insights into how your team is using content and what they’re searching for. In addition, through comments and emoji reactions, Guru creates a place for conversations. 

Want to discover more about Guru? Watch our on-demand demo video to satisfy your curiosity. 

2. DocuWare

DocuWare provides a user-friendly digital document management solution for small businesses and large enterprises in multiple industries. 

Source: Capterra

It’s a workflow-automation software tool that secures your business documents and optimizes your operational processes, no matter where you are or what device you’re using. Which makes it a good solution for remote teams that want to improve their productivity. 

DocuWare prides itself on its secure document archiving. All your employee data, financial records, and contracts are safe from harm. So, you avoid the risk of someone stealing your data or losing it. 

This ECM also supports both cloud and on-site deployments so it fits with any kind of system. Plus, DocuWare tightly organizes all data, enabling a better and more productive workspace. 

Since it’s so flexible, it integrates with 500 different business applications, including Oracle, SharePoint, and QuickBooks. 

3. M-Files

M-Files is an AI-driven knowledge management tool that helps teams find information faster and more efficiently. 

Source: G2

This platform has a unique feature called metadata-driven architecture. In a nutshell, it makes file sharing easier. Your team can find any document they need without a lengthy search. 

Moreover, M-Files gives you access controls over your documents (even for different versions of the same file) based on role or group. 

But it also automates your workflows. M-Files’ document metadata keeps track of your tasks and helps you communicate better with internal or external stakeholders about what they need to do. 

The tool has no-code document automation scalability, which means it can be up and running quickly. And don’t worry — it integrates with plenty of tools you use daily, such as Adobe, DocuSign, Google Workspace, SAP, and network folders. 

4. Laserfiche

Laserfiche is a cloud-based ECM platform that says ‘goodbye’ to paper documents and welcomes process automation.  

Source: G2

With this modern solution, you can centralize your content and boost your team’s productivity. All while keeping your data safe and secure from cyber breaches. Plus, Laserfiche maintains regulatory compliance. 

Since you use a single source of truth, everyone is using the same data, no matter their level of access. Through version tracking and advanced search, you enjoy a better and more intuitive collaboration between your teams. 

Laserfiche helps you retain and manage documents throughout the entire content lifecycle. By using detailed audit logs and strict permissions, only authorized personnel can view, edit, or access files. 

This tool also has quick search and retrieval functionalities, which translates into boosted productivity and improved processes. 

Laserfiche offers different integration options, including DocuSign, Microsoft Office 365, and customer relationship management (CRM) tools. 

5. OnBase

OnBase by Hyland offers business process and case management tools that help you efficiently manage and organize your content. 

Source: G2

OnBase is an intelligent ECM solution that collects data from multichannel sources. The good part is that it also verifies and classifies the information so you can use it as soon as it’s assimilated. 

Moreover, OnBase analyzes your content in real time through visual reports and dashboards. What do you get? The necessary visibility to make better and more informed decisions. 

But this solution also automates repeatable tasks via customizable forms and built-in workflows. 

Through co-authoring, tasks, and notifications, OnBase makes file sharing as easy as pie. Plus, everything's secure, so you have better, worry-free collaboration between teammates. 

OnBase plays nicely with plenty of existing systems. Think Google, PeopleSoft, Epic, and MuleSoft, for example. 

6. Box

Box, a secure cloud content services platform, focuses heavily on keeping your files safe through intelligent threat detection, advanced security, and granular access control. 

But since compliance and security go hand in hand, Box also has strict data privacy and industry compliance. That’s not all — by harnessing the power of machine learning, Box can detect threats and set policies.  

Source: G2

This easy-to-use platform also enables seamless collaboration between your teams. Through file annotation, e-signatures, and automated task flow, you can work from anywhere, on any device.

Plus, Box proactively works to simplify manual workflows to save you time. Things like document capture and new-hire onboarding, which are vital to your business (but oh so boring) become faster and easier to handle. 

Box lets you stay connected with all your favorite tools, as it integrates with apps like Adobe, Oracle, Okta, IBM, Slack, and Zoom. 

7. OpenText

OpenText is a smarter way to manage and gain precious insights from your content. 

Source: OpenText

In essence, OpenText is an information management platform suitable for many industries, including automotive, banking, insurance, life sciences, and legal. 

That’s why it’s a great solution for handling legal information. It centralizes all private documents spread across disconnected systems into a single source of truth. As a result, you have high-value data at hand, which greatly improves your productivity. 

But OpenText also has a flexible content services platform ideal for handling large volumes of data efficiently. Moreover, through its ECM services, you can deliver more operational excellence. And build a bridge between your workspace and important tools like CRM, enterprise resource planning (ERP), and human capital management (HCM). 

OpenText has integration solutions for Microsoft, Salesforce, and SAP. 

8. Hyland

Hyland’s content solution platform connects various kinds of data with all your business systems, workflows, and tools. 

Source: G2

Hyland is a solution filled with useful features. First of all, it has intelligent content capture that uses artificial intelligence to collect incoming company information. What’s more, it makes that data useful and accessible, regardless of the source, type, or state. 

Secondly, Hyland has native process automation features that connect your workflows and systems into one seamless point of information. 

With secure data governance, this solution makes sure your data obeys the strictest compliance laws (in industries like healthcare, education, insurance, etc.). Hyland protects your critical data from cybersecurity threats and loss. 

Last but not least, Hyland is available in 500+ unique applications, including Workday, SharePoint, Cognizant, DocuSign, Accela, etc. 

9. Microsoft’s SharePoint

Microsoft SharePoint is an intranet platform and document management software tool that deals with traditional, web, and social content. 

Source: Microsoft

One of its best features is that you can access it from different devices such as computers, phones, and tablets. You have all the information and files you need in a single place to empower teamwork and collaboration. 

But it also finds the information you need quickly through powerful search features. This way, SharePoint boosts your productivity by changing the way you work, from simple tasks like document approval to more complex flows. 

When it comes to documents, this tool lets you download, edit, and share your files. But it also keeps a log of who made changes, as well as allowing you to download different versions of the same doc. 

SharePoint integrates with the Microsoft 365 suite, including Field Service, Customer Service, Marketing, and Project Service Automation. 

10. IBM Business Automation Workflow

Last on our list (but well worth checking out) is IBM, an AI-powered ECM tool that automates your business processes. 

Source: G2

Through Watson — IBM’s AI assistant — you can solve any challenge thrown your way. And get a 360-degree view of your business operations. 

Moreover, IBM helps you build content management solutions for handling use cases, designing better workflows, and capturing valuable insights that lead to better business outcomes. 

This ECM program unites your disconnected information into one workflow solution ideal for cloud, hybrid, and on-site deployment. How? Through process management and collaboration features that makes managing data easier and more convenient. 

IBM offers core library services that can handle documents and files more efficiently. Plus, it has secure file sharing and a powerful search that makes finding the insights you need a breeze. 

How to Choose an ECM System for Your Organization

Like every other tool in your business, an ECM system must be carefully considered. It might be easier to choose one that sounds good, but you don’t want to end up with a solution you dislike. And which simply doesn’t do its job.

So, after evaluating your objectives, goals, and current needs, look for an ECM tool that: 

  • Securely stores content: We’ve highlighted throughout the article the importance of keeping your data safe. You shouldn’t compromise when seeking a tool that takes security, privacy, and compliance seriously, especially if you work in heavily regulated industries. 
  • Integrates with existing systems: It’s tiresome to keep switching from one tool to another. Your chosen ECM platform should seamlessly integrate with your existing tools — and do so without disrupting your other operations. 
  • Is flexible and scalable: The ECM tool needs to help you find the info you seek whenever you need it, no matter where you store your data. But, more importantly, it should fit your workflows like a glove and be able to adapt to your growing needs.
  • Offers easy access: It shouldn’t be hard to find the information you seek. The right ECM platform is easy to use and intuitive, which means it needs to have a drag-and-drop interface for better user experiences and customizable workflows that support collaboration. 

  • Has powerful analytics tools: You need to know whether the tool is doing its job or not. It’s best to look for an ECM that has visual reports, dashboards, and analytics that give a good view of your business processes. And help you make data-driven decisions. 

The Bottom Line

It’s up to you to decide which is the best ECM software for your business. We hope that this buyer’s guide nudged you in the right direction. And that you’re feeling more ready to tackle this challenge head-on. 

AND — here’s an idea — you can start this new adventure by trying Guru for free.

Key takeaways 🔑🥡🍕

How much does enterprise content management software cost?

An ECM system can cost between a few thousand and millions of dollars (typically, the range is $2,000–$10,000). 

The vendor and what it offers highly influence the price. Some have annual licenses you can purchase, while others have subscription plans based on different needs.

But the cost can also depend on factors such as your organization’s size and requirements, the number of users, etc. You might also need to pay close attention to additional expenses as your company grows.

What are the security considerations when implementing a ECM system?

Your chosen ECM should have the following security measures: 

  • Compliance with industry and regional laws and regulations
  • Updated guidelines and privacy policies
  • Records management and security features 
  • Data backup and disaster recovery plans
  • Audit trails and user activity logs
  • Role-based access controls and permissions

What integrations should I look for in ECM software?

Some of the most popular integrations an ECM solution has include: 

  • Slack
  • Microsoft Teams 
  • Google Drive
  • Salesforce
  • DocuSign
  • Adobe
  • Box

Written by
Christine Richardson
Search everything, get answers anywhere with Guru.

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