by Joanne E. Novak, Konica Minolta

Business processing problems come in all shapes and sizes. Accounts Payable and Claims Processing is looking to go paperless for automated, streamlined workflows. Human Resources and Contract managers are looking for collaboration tools for version control and tracking. Meanwhile, everyone is afraid of external and internal security breaches or being non-compliant for audits and meeting regulatory requirements. Whether it’s business intelligence or confidential patient information, your management and safeguarding of content is critical without compromising information accessibility. 

How ECM beats back the monsters: 

For Security: 
Control
Authorized Access Only
No Physical Risk of Loss
Smart Records Management
No Physical Storage Costs
No Disruption to Mobile Operations  
Confidence in the Cloud 

For Compliance: 
Quick Access to Relevant Documents
Controlled Delivery  
No Risk of Lost Data
No Fear of Non-Compliance
No Government-Issued Penalties
Reduce Costs for External Auditors
Transparency with Tracking
Consistent Processes to Fulfill Requests 

While your IT team wrangles the external monsters trying to invade critical business systems, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) can help defend against internal attacks. Further, with the comprehensive information governance that ECM provides, compliance officers and CTOs are not haunted by the threat of non-compliance with internal rules and external regulations. 

How Do You Keep Data Safe and Not Strangle Business Operations?

There are many points to consider:  Do your current systems have built-in tools for authorizing access? Do you need to support a mobile workforce using their own devices? Do you have audit trails and reporting where you can proactively track suspicious behavior?  ECM solutions have tools and techniques for organizations to defend themselves against the monsters looming inside their walls.

SECURITY

Authorized Access.One of the key reasons organizations embrace ECM solutions is that they can institute greater control with authorized access to data.  With content in a digital format governed by access controls, there are no paper files to be lost, stolen or damaged, and records are not boxed up in physical rows of linear feet – susceptible to catastrophic harm from fire, flood, theft and wind. Based on need, organizations can set the appropriate level of permission for employees who need access. For instance, in a human resources department, some employees may need access at the folder level or down to the specific document type. HR can govern how their staff has access, ensuring management’s peace of mind and employee confidentiality protection. 

Monitoring Tools. Oversight becomes a critical part of a security plan.  With controls, an organization needs reporting tools to ensure it can spot abuse or irregular usage patterns of a malicious invader. With ECM solutions, once content is digital and there is an audit trail of access, you can monitor activity and detect prospective problems such as after-hours access.

Reduced Risk. The byproduct of more secure data is less stress within your organization. The data is safeguarded – even encrypted if there is the need – and management has the necessary transparency to monitor activity. Your organization has reduced its risk of a huge disaster because it has eliminated unsecured, vulnerable paper documents.  

Life Cycle Management. Along with keeping your active content safe, you must have storage safety. In your digital archive, records will remain safe too, but are they all needed? Secure storage doesn’t mean your organization should keep its records forever. It naturally follows that your company builds a records retention plan and deletes records in accordance with the plan by an authorized team.

By establishing record lifetime guidelines, your team can confidently reduce the archive with an organized plan and ensure the organization is saving the most recent, necessary, government-required, company-critical content. With a plan in place, your archives are not a mystery and can be managed through employee attrition, retirement and promotion. 

IMPACT ON BUSINESS

Uninterrupted Operations. Accessibility also comes in many shapes and sizes. With ECM, your organization builds business rules to govern on-premise access to a server, cloud access to remote computing and mobile access for offsite operations. The business rules for accessibility can be activated or deactivated with ease since the digital content does not have to consider physical controls, while business operations are not interrupted because of an inability to find data, access it, evaluate it and use it.  

Cloud: Secure data that can be backed up against monstrous disasters

Mobile: Work from anywhere with the same safeguards for mobile access as on-premise access

Automated Workflow: Business rules make users accountable for their actions or inaction

Exception Handling: Alerts of surface roadblocks, abuses, and non-standard and suspicious circumstances and let your organization focus on the problems that need immediate attention 

While behind the scenes safeguards are instituted, business operations are uninterrupted.

Auditor Requests and Regulatory Requirements Wil No Longer Paralyze Your Company

COMPLIANCE

Hide and Go Seek. It’s no game; it’s a challenge to keep track of necessary documents to have them accessible when your team needs them. Quick access means timely disposition. Timely disposition means meeting compliance deadlines. And meeting deadlines means no risk of penalties or legal issues of non-compliance. With an ECM centralized repository for digitized content, compliance officers have peace of mind that they will not be scrambling to find documentation. 

Audits Made Easy. If the audit support team needs to drop everything whenever there is an upcoming audit because it takes days to collect the relevant documents, then your organization is broken. Without the struggle of cumbersome paper, identifying the necessary digital documents and granting auditors access to just those documents allows an organization to save time searching and avoid the risk of disclosing documents that are not relevant to the audit. With ECM, the team enjoys the benefits of a standard, repeatable process, so they can consistently deliver on time for every audit request.  Also, digital delivery means no additional transportation fees of unwieldly boxes filled with paper.                                                 

Internal Rewards. The compliance officer is responsible for both the internal documents that employees need to complete and for fulfilling the request for regulatory compliance. Tracking employees’ responses to the various forms they need to complete to adhere to your company’s governance standards could be arduous with paper or email responses. Using ECM, storing employees’ personal and confidential responses becomes an easy process with digitized content indexing/tracking, encrypted files and authorized access. 

External Compliance. The biggest monster to thwart is the federal government and staying in compliance with its requirements. Human Resources may have I-9 forms, W-4 forms and, depending on your industry, there is HIPAA compliance in health care and SEC rules to be followed for all financial groups. These laws require any digital records to be readily accessed when needed. ECM provides a secure environment for setting up folders and files – for storing your sensitive information and encrypting any confidential information. Audit logs ensure everyone is following your organization’s rules, and your organization establishes a consistent, reliable, accountable process for timely responses.  

IMPACT ON BUSINESS

No Penalties. Your organization maintains compliance, and it has ECM-supported processes that are repeatable for subsequent years. Compliance officers have tangible audit trails for complete transparency.  

No Fear. The daunting task of data collection and delivery is no longer a task to be feared.

Conquering the Monsters

The threat of finding that your data has been breached internally by an unauthorized user is real. Instituting information governance safeguards with ECM helps your organization take the necessary internal measures for greater safety and peace of mind. With fewer compliance challenges, your team benefits from less stress since they can easily retrieve and track the content they need.

Don’t be afraid to look beyond the benefits of automated workflows and streamlined operations for all the solutions an ECM system can provide to your enterprise. Security and compliance features of an ECM solution are critical to chasing out the monsters that can haunt your organization.

Joanne E. Novak is a program manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. 

This article originally appeared in the December 2015 issue of Workflow.