Go green with ECM: Gartner

Go green with ECM: Gartner

January 21, 2009: Enterprise content management (ECM) offers the potential to make your organisation environmentally friendly and more efficient all at the same time, by reducing paper-based processes and the inherent latencies and costs, according to Gartner.

“The 1980’s notion of a paperless office was about how technology could bring efficiency and change work styles,” said Mark Gilbert, research vice president at Gartner.

“Organisations are realising that process improvements and the move away from paper to electronic processes can also bring green benefits, such as energy savings from paper production, distribution, usage and disposition, and transit through the postal system.”

The analysts highlight a number of areas that require action for an environmental green tick.

The first priority should be to expose processes in which e-forms could be integrated to reduce the need to create a paper document, and also to reduce inefficient or redundant communications.

Secondly, move to e-forms to capture content electronically from website visitors and from clients.

Earn more environmental kudos by storing your records electronically and avoid heating/cooling costs. Ongoing air conditioning of large paper-storage environments can be very energy-intensive, points out Gartner.

In addition, storing records electronically means that you don't print them for storage, you don't transport them to and from storage, and they becomesearchable — providing cost-savings opportunities.

When paper documents are sent off-site for archiving, Gartner estimates that only about 1 per cent is ever accessed again. With electronic records, organisations can store the record once and reference it to many other documents through metadata and folders. However, with paper records, most companies make more physical copies of the document. This means increased use of paper and greater storage requirements, as well as more physical boxes of records to sort through to find items for deletion when their retention period is over.

Gartner believes an enterprise-wide strategy is cleaner and greener, as it will usually bring savings in hardware, storage, IT operations and maintenance agreements. It recommends a move away from smaller departmental "nooks and crannies" in which information is often trapped rather than being accessible throughout the organisation.

Lastly, Gartner recommends considering outsourcing aspects of your content management needs that are common and in which you have no particular expertise or value-add.

"Outsourcers can be more efficient and save energy because they've maximised their infrastructure and can offer economies and knowledge. There is also a reduction in emissions — particularly if the processing centre is close to the collection point," says Gartner.

The report is available on Gartner’s website at http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=g_search&id=829714&subref=simplesearch

Comment on this story