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Selecting the right technology for a company’s unique needs greatly outweighs choosing the right letters. Still, it’s helpful to know what each acronym represents. Understanding subtle differences between these ten technologies will shorten your path to the right match while helping to educate you on the suited methodology per acronym, let alone add credibility when conversing with a client or prospect.
1 API – Application Programming Interface – An interface allowing one software application to interact with another. Typically includes specifications for objects, data classes, and routines as well as established protocols that direct interaction between applications. Web service APIs enable web-based applications to interact seamlessly and efficiently. Contrasting with earlier hard-coded integrations, standard APIs are applied quickly, easily, and cost-effectively, typically without developers.
Synopsis: Enables easy and seamless communication between diverse information systems and technologies.
2 EDM – Electronic Document Management – Software used to store, secure, and track electronic documents as well as the images and content stored within them. Provides a central repository for safekeeping and managing digital documents and images captured via scanners, online forms, bar codes, or digital print streams. Persons working with electronic documents may benefit from Certified Document Imaging Architect certification (CDIA+). Visit www.comptia.org.
Synopsis: Gives authorized person’s appropriate access to documents and images, enabling effective governance and easing compliance.
3 ECM – Enterprise Content Management – A strategy and corresponding software to govern capture, storage, management, preservation, and delivery of unstructured and structured content. Includes content created by humans and software applications throughout the information lifecycle that support enterprise-wide processes. This provides a central repository that governs capture, access, and use of information from creation through archival and destruction. Typically encompasses imaging, document management, records management, web content management, workflow, and document-centric collaboration technologies.
Synopsis: Helps you find information you’re authorized to access and manage it via permissions you’ve been granted.
4 CRM – Customer Relationship Management – A company-wide strategy commonly implemented for managing internal and outward-facing interactions with customers, clients and sales prospects, including emails, reports, sales-related documents, etc. Customizes and tracks sales activities, marketing, customer service, and technical support. Used to improve customer service and satisfaction, increase retention, win new clients, and reduce marketing and client service costs.
Synopsis: CRM helps you manage customer sales and marketing activities, facilitating smart decisions and enabling better service.
5 BPM – Business Process Management – A discipline that confronts enterprise-wide business processes, providing methods, technologies, and tools to model, automate, implement, and optimize routine processes. This improves operational effectiveness, agility and business performance, and provides methodologies, technologies and processes that respond dynamically to changing business environments.
Synopsis: Orchestrates enterprise-wide movement of documents and data to promote process efficiency, following customized EDM/ECM business rules, security, and authorizations.
6 ERM – Electronic Records Management – A software-based strategy for efficiently and systematically controlling electronic records that substantiate business activities and transactions---including their creation, use, and disposition. Focuses on retention and disposition rules, security and access controls, and discoverability. Visit www.aiim.org for certification information.
Synopsis: An effective way to manage records that document business activity and to demonstrate whether policies, internal records management plans, and retention rules are followed.
7 ERP – Enterprise Resource Planning – An application that manages structured content from diverse resources such as accounting, HR, and more. Typically resides on a centralized server or across multiple hardware/software units that communicate on a local area network (LAN). Modular by design, ERP typically utilizes numerous consultants for planning, customization and support. Contrasted with ECM, organizations using ERP usually must map business processes to ERP’s standardized choices rather than mapping the software to their business preferences.
Synopsis: ERP is a time-tested method for managing structured content across multiple business areas and works well when organizations are willing to submit to its standard processes or have large budgets for customizations.
8 RIM – Records and Information Management – RIM is a newer strategy for managing records that document business activity, including pertinent information that flows through a business. It typically involves paper-based files, microfilm, and digital records. RIM identifies who is responsible and accountable for managing records, integrates best practices into enterprise-wide process flows, executes procedures consistently, and establishes guidelines for continuity in response to business interruption. Visit the Association of Records Managers & Administrators (ARMA) at www.arma.org. For records manager certification visit the Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM) at www.icrm.org.
Synopsis: RIM governs and verifies records that document business activity, satisfying historical, reference, and legal needs with access to comprehensive information.
9 TCM – Transactional Content Management – Viewed as the place where ECM and BPM intersect, TCM takes content originating from external third-party sources and uses BPM to advance processes that rely on it. Common applications are invoice processing, human resources, and contract management. A good resource: The Association for Work Process Improvement, at www.tawpi.org.
Synopsis: TCM focuses on content transactions that are closely connected, enabling transactional processes to advance efficiently.
10 WCM – Web content management - A strategy and program for maintaining, controlling, changing, and reassembling web page content. This adheres to web standards for managing content throughout the lifecycle, from creation and versioning of complete web pages through publishing and deletion. Typically includes simple, automated processes for submitting and editing content, as well as obtaining and documenting authorizations for content release.
Synopsis: WCM helps website administrators and IT administrators manage web page content efficiently throughout the content lifecycle.
Regardless of which acronym you choose, vendors with your best interests in mind will:
• Listen carefully to your current business challenges.
• Take time to understand your plans and vision for the future.
• Examine tools and technologies you already own and help you design a solution that will maximize the value of those investments.
• Ensure that whatever you implement aligns with your future goals.
Although understanding acronyms is helpful, reserve the rest of your brainpower for establishing a clear vision of where your business is headed so you can choose technology that will meet your needs now and in the future, to grow revenue. With clear goals the right technology solution should spell success.