By Brian Lincoln, senior product line manager, Xerox DocuShare

Spending on information technology by small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in the United States will approach $145.8 billion in 20131.

IT spending is on the rise and the economy is moving forward, but IT leaders are still asked to justify every penny they spend. This makes calculating expected return on investment (ROI) before making a purchase very important. When it comes to enterprise content management (ECM), this can seem like an elusive goal. However, measuring the ROI of ECM isn’t as difficult as some may think. An ECM system can yield savings and efficiencies that help a smaller business grow.

Here are a few ways to justify why an ECM system will be beneficial – and profitable – for your business, and can ultimately make you more competitive:

  1. Time is money – and workplace productivity is the ultimate measure of business success. If an employee can quickly find information using an ECM system, the freed-up time can be refocused on more important, revenue-generating or core organizational activities. Customer service is vastly improved when agents or representatives can find a client’s information or respond to a query instantly. Leveraging multifunction printers (MFPs) with an ECM system is another way to save money. MFPs can help automate tedious office activities by enabling you to scan documents directly into an ECM workflow that routes the document automatically to specific departments or colleagues. Storing documents in digital form eliminates filing cabinets and reduces storage and postage fees.
  2. Businesses are becoming more aware of their carbon footprint – and are noticing that “going green” saves green! By automating business processes, SMBs dramatically reduce consumption of paper, ink, toner, energy and materials. Gas emissions and transportation costs affiliated with the shipment of hard-copy documents are also greatly reduced when using an ECM solution instead. Going paperless within an office can literally help free up space and modernize a work environment.
  3. Maintaining compliance is an unavoidable cost of doing business for many, and the returns on investments can be difficult if not impossible to measure. Business documents must be kept secure and confidential. With ECM, content is housed in a secure Web repository, accessible 24/7. ECM solutions help meet security and compliance requirements—which sometimes demand time and expense from an emerging business—through features like permissions, digital signatures and auditable workflows, which make annual audits easier and help companies avoid the risk of potential fines.
  4. Maintaining the client-base and generating new customers is important to any business. An efficient ECM solution supports a better business process, ultimately improving response time to customers which can greatly impact their experience and loyalty.

1According to Ray Boggs, vice president, Small and Medium-Sized Business Research at IDC.