Early last year hackers exploited vulnerabilities in the IT systems of the nation's second largest health insurer — Anthem — to access massive amounts of personal data of some 80 million current and former health care plan members.

Names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, health care ID numbers, home addresses, email addresses and employment information, including income data, was stolen.

All this stolen information represents the type of data you probably have stored in your own company databases right now. It is the personal information typically captured by human resources departments.

Collecting Mountains of Personal Data

From the moment an employee applies for a job until the hire leaves the organization, a trail of personal information is created, copied and stored. All this data is arguably necessary to the everyday functioning of business processes and procedures.

But businesses big and small should also understand the responsibility they have to protect all this data — and incidents like the Anthem breach should sound an alarm. Each business should ask itself what safeguards it has in place and whether it has taken steps to properly handle data.

The solution for many organizations is to implement rights-based security through a digital document management or enterprise content management (ECM) system.

But with hundreds of products and solutions to choose from — and many platforms providing similar features and functionalities — how do you determine what solution will best fit the needs of your business?

How to Select an ECM System

Here are the top six considerations when choosing an ECM System:

Does the solution offer security?

An ECM system should offer tools to identify potential security risks. Protecting customer data and your brand can help alleviate additional costs associated with a breach. ECM systems offer secure document management, document authentication, integrity and privacy — all while adding security and safety to the information through comprehensive audit trails and proactive reporting techniques.

Does it address the specific needs of your business?

One of the first steps in choosing an ECM solution is identifying the needs of your business. Every business has unique challenges in relation to business information workflows and processes. Inefficiencies in your processes can be streamlined electronically through automation, resulting in a reduction of paper, improved productivity and increased transparency.

Does it integrate with your company’s legacy systems?

The ECM solution must be able to integrate with your existing departmental or enterprise-wide business applications. Often, old applications can be integrated with an ECM system, making the information archived in the ECM system available within your business applications. To make information accessible without costly custom programming, consider ECM solutions, with integration tools and standard API web services.

Does it fit the culture of your business?

Implementing a new solution is not enough – it must fit the culture and vibe of your organization. Solutions that fit well with your culture, are user friendly and workflow intuitive, are vital adoption drivers. Take time to educate stakeholders on the benefits of this new technology and how it will help make their jobs – and lives – easier.

Will it integrate smoothly with your current processes?

Many ECM products are designed to be plug-and-play, not taking unique processes and needs of your company into consideration. To maximize your ECM investment an ECM system should scale from plug-and-play for basic workflow like automated expense reports to more complex workflows that include intelligent data capture, integration and digital signatures.

Does it fit your budget?

Determine the level of budget anticipated and the timeframe for your purchase. Identifying these areas is important for evaluating potential vendors and solidifying internal support. As you plan your budget, anticipate related costs like new servers, personnel training and maintenance fees.

Whether you are considering an upgrade to your current ECM system, a replacement, or purchase of a new ECM system, there are several considerations to address to select the right ECM System for your business.