ECM in government: The one thing that drove its adoption in the first place (and still is today)

When I read blogs and articles, I like “Top 10 Reasons You Should X” or “Five Questions to Ask about Y.”

I’m going to emulate that format here. Except, this time, the number is smaller than usual.

One.

That’s right. One.

I’ll be getting into the one thing that started the enterprise content management, or ECM, ball rolling in government. It deserves its own list because, more than a decade later, it’s still a factor today.

That one thing? It’s microfilm (or, if you prefer, microfiche).

As inefficient as we think government agencies are, we can’t fault them for not trying. They saw that paper was a problem. So they tried microfilm.

They knew it would help with paper storage. But, microfilm couldn’t address the process side of the problem. Systems were disjointed. Data and documents were scattered. And all of it negatively affected how employees worked and citizens were served (and it still does in way too many instances).

Just when microfilm became too much to handle (and too expensive to maintain), ECM became a familiar term in enterprise software. It had already been used successfully in other industries for years, such as in banking to store check images. And after a closer look, government departments at all levels – federal, state and local – began to see how ECM could help solve their problems, too.

Fast forward to today. A lot has changed in the government world, especially in how it uses technology. But after all of these years, I still go into government agencies and see employees viewing documents on microfilm. It’s like fruitcake at Christmas: No one really likes it, but Aunt Suzie keeps making it because that’s just the way it’s always been done.

So is microfilm a new issue in government that ECM can address? No. But it’s an old problem that many agencies are becoming aware of lately.

This leads me to my next point. While microfilm is still driving a need for ECM, there are new trends that are popping up, pushing that need to never before seen levels.

Are you aware of any such trends? My next few blog posts will be about the top trends I’ve seen, and I’d like to incorporate your thoughts and experiences, too. Please stay in touch, and stay tuned for more to come soon.

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Mike Bilardo

Ever go to your local Bureau of Motor Vehicles and wonder if there's a way for them to speed up your service? According to Mike Bilardo, Hyland's director of government solutions, the answer is a resounding, "yes." For almost a decade, he's worked with all levels of government - from small cities to massive federal agencies - to show them how enterprise content management, or ECM, can help them work more efficiently and, ultimately, give better service to their citizens. Want to learn more? You can reach him at [email protected]

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