So, your organization has decided to invest in an (ECM) solution, but before you make a rash decision and sign a contract with the first ECM provider you find on your Internet search, consider these 10 “must-have” features that your selected ECM should provide: 

1. Central Repository: Accessible through robust content management software, the central repository can help drastically simplify your file sharing by handling multiple file formats coming from multiple locations–whether paper or electronic content.

2. Document Scanning: Eases file sharing and retrieval with various methods of scanning documents. Make sure the solution offers barcoding, zonal optical character recognition and front-end methods. 

3. Secure Email Files: Can help put an end to lost emails by storing incoming and outgoing emails in a system that connects them to clients, vendors and contractors–and most importantly, ensure it can easily integrate into popular email applications already in use by your organization.

4. Client Portal: Customer accessibility to a self-service portal can take your customer service efficiency to the next level–make sure it can be easily integrated with your website so you can personalize your brand. 

5. Document Retrieval: Easy retrieval of all documents should be searchable by contacts, advanced filters and keywords to speed the process.

6. Mobile Accessibility: Anytime, anywhere accessibility on iPhone, iPad, Android smartphones, tablets and other popular mobile devices will allow increased productivity and help efficient operations.

7. Easy Integration: Should be easily integrated with SalesForce, Microsoft Office or any other popular business application seamlesslywithout a total overhaul of your current system.

8. Automated Workflow Manager: Without shifting current workflow, you should visually track straight-line processes, analyze project progress with business intelligence and determine individual users’ productivity, workflow gaps, bottlenecks and more. 

9. Advanced Analytics: For transparency on vital business processes, the advanced business analytics can be easily customized for reports as needed.

10. Cloud-based Accessibility: Safe, secure cloud storage offers the most cost-effective storage and accessibility from anywhere–and in today’s business environment, lack of accessibility and connectivity can put a major dent on your bottom line.

Finally, take time to review different options available in the market. Make sure that the ECM solution you choose is scalable for future growth and expansion. After all, you don’t want to haul everything over to another solution when your business grows too big for the solution you’ve already deployed.

JONATHAN LINCOLN is director of business development for etfile, a leading provider of cutting edge enterprise content management and automated workflow technology for the paperless office.