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ECM Solutions & SMBs: What you need to know

15 May, 2009 By: David Smith imageSource

ECM Solutions & SMBs: What you need to know

According to IDC’s vice president of SMB Research, Ray Boggs, total worldwide technology spending will only grow by 0.5 percent in 2009. However, technology spending from small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) will grow by 3.2 percent, despite the economic downturn.

How can you capture a piece of this growing market? By offering solutions tailored to meet the unique business requirements of an SMB. Smaller organizations can’t afford to waste time or money searching for documents. In order to remain competitive and maximize workplace
productivity, they require immediate access to business critical information, which can be achieved through an effective enterprise content management solution (ECM). 

As a reseller or integrator, you can grow your business by helping customers and prospects understand why now is the right time to invest in an ECM technology that offers easy digital storage, retrieval and sharing of information.  To sell into SMBs, demonstrate your
understanding of the information management issues they face and articulate the value of an ECM solution to their business, as well as the potential for high return on investment (ROI). The following considerations will help you offer an ECM software package that will best
address the needs of your SMB customers:

The ROI of ECM for SMBs

Increase productivity, reduce labor & cut storage costs

According to Basex, a knowledge economy research firm, $650 billion worth of productivity is lost per year as a result of “information overload” – the barrage of papers, emails and other forms of content circulated daily.  An ECM solution can enable employees to combat the
ongoing drudge of documents by taking paper out of the process in exchange for easy to manage digital files. And with the time gained, SMBs can cut print-related costs, and ultimately focus on more important, revenue-generating tasks.   

Improved customer service

With an ECM system, customer documents—such as purchase orders, warranties or invoices—can be quickly accessed online, reducing the need for physical filing cabinets and improving response times.


Government and industry regulations require businesses of all sizes to comply with specific document retention and retrieval policies. Failure to comply with these mandates can result in hefty financial penalties.  An ECM solution can help SMBs be compliant by establishing
document access permissions.  These can be based on the user, automating retention scheduling processes and providing detailed audit trails that show which employees accessed specific documents and when.   

Green benefits

Businesses are taking a hard look at their impact on the environment. For many SMBs “going green” is not only important for their sustainability goals but can also result in significant cost savings. An ECM solution manages documents electronically, so SMBs can reduce the
amount of paper, ink and toner the business uses.  Gas emissions and transportation costs affiliated with the shipment of hard-copy documents can also be greatly reduced when using an  ECM solution instead.  By automating business processes, SMBs can dramatically reduce
consumption of paper, energy and materials, and significantly decrease the amount of time it takes to get work done.

Choosing the Right ECM System


Change can be a scary proposition for SMBs who could easily be crippled by having to spend too much down time to implement a solution, or to teach employees how to use the software.  It is important to keep things simple and make change easy and intuitive for employees. 
While for years ECM solutions were too complex for the average SMB to implement, today some solutions can be up and running in minutes with very little IT support required. Also, if the solution has intuitive interfaces, little user training may be needed. When discussing an ECM
solution, it is important to provide a comprehensive implementation plan so SMBs are assured they can quickly and easily manage documents and processes without missing a beat in business operations.


Accessibility of files and information located in ECM repositories is on the minds of SMBs.  While it’s important to access files from within the office, also look for an ECM solution with Web-based folders that allows secure, 24/7 access for remote workers, such as those in
home offices or other locations across the globe.  This speeds efficiency and fosters communication and collaboration, without straining the budget.  Keeping documents online also allows them to be backed up regularly, to protect against accidental loss, including natural
disasters or other business interruptions.

Leveraging existing assets

To be optimally successful and achieve higher cost savings, SMBs need to convert their paper documents into digital files. Document scanning devices are necessary to make this happen; the good news is that scanning technology is more affordable for SMBs now.  They may also be
able to leverage the scanning capabilities of some of their existing assets, such as multifunction printers (MFPs).  Most small offices already have an MFP, so SMBs can scan documents from the device directly into their ECM system without making a significant investment in new
hardware.  As a reseller, there is an opportunity for you to consult on this process or even offer digitizing of documents as a service. 

Catering to a growing business

As a reseller, it is important to understand the concerns that many SMBs have about whether or not their current investments will be able to grow with them. ECM solutions are available that can house millions of documents, meeting any growing businesses needs. It will be
important for you to highlight the amount of storage available and the ways the system can be customized for automation of other business processes.

Custom solutions to solve business needs

Once you get an ECM foundation in place for the small or emerging business, there is an opportunity to customize the solution to be truly tailored to its specific needs. By integrating additional software from other vendors, or even your own proprietary document workflow
solution, you can automate business processes beyond document storage, retrieval and sharing.

For example, Mr. Copy, a Xerox document solutions provider (and who recently won imageSource’s Perfect Image Award for Most Innovative Customer Retention Program), created an Insurance Claims Workflow Solution that works with Xerox DocuShare CPX Enterprise Content Management
Software to better serve its customers.  Scanned, e-mailed and faxed files are placed into a secured queue allowing claims analysts to search and access files within seconds at any time, from any location.  The reseller recently worked with one of their small business customers,
OwnerGUARD Inc., to find business process bottlenecks caused by paper and simplified claim handling.

Prior to implementing the Insurance Claims Workflow Solution and DocuShare, OwnerGUARD was inundated with high volumes of paper documents, leading employees to spend up to three hours per day searching for the information they needed to process claims.  Using MFPs, OwnerGUARD
scans claims forms into a digital format, sending them seamlessly into the customized DocuShare solution. By digitizing claims management and also imaging large amounts of paper documents to access them easily online, they were able to boost turnaround time by 40 percent while
saving more than $5,000 per month on print-related expenses. 

Like Mr. Copy, resellers or integrators can serve an essential role as a business process advisor to SMBs.  As an expert in your field or vertical markets, you have a wealth of expertise to share. By bringing together your real-world experience and insight on the ECM
technologies that meet the needs of the small business, you can help SMBs get work done more efficiently and unearth new sources of revenue for your business.

David Smith is vice president, DocuShare Business Unit, Xerox. For further information on Xerox visit www.docushare.xerox.com.

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