Office 2010 can act as the front-end to a full-featured enterprise content management solution using the metadata and workflow capabilities of SharePoint 2010.
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Microsoft Office 2010 In Pictures
Learn to love lock-in. If you stay up nights wondering whether you can figure out a way to avoid the licensing fees associated with the upgrade to Office 2010 by switching to StarOffice or Google Docs, you may indeed hesitate to embed your fundamental workflows and business logic into the Microsoft platform. That's because once your core business processes are embedded into a SharePoint workflow, it'll take more than just a document converter to switch software suppliers. On the other hand, with Microsoft you can be fairly certain that there'll be an upgrade path, an active developer community and support resources for a long time to come. While you may be able to build an equivalent solution using non-Microsoft technologies, your ability to maintain it over the long-haul is a question worth asking.
Build a business case. The purchase decision is predominately a function of the maturity of the business processes within your organization. If you have already have a well-defined, automated and leak-proof system for managing documents within your organization, the business benefit from ECM may only be incremental. However, SMBs tend to fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, with proposals and contracts bouncing around several times before someone wrangles them into shape, with customer service suffering due to delays in finding the right documents, and with incorrect information sometimes leading to costly mistakes.
As with other automation projects, a business case for ECM can be built on the pillars of higher throughput, faster service delivery, lower training and on-boarding costs, lower project management expense, and greater productivity for higher-value employees. In addition, with carefully defined and vetted business processes, you can provide risk and compliance managers with greater assurance of data accuracy and approvals, which in a litigious society can drive budget approval for an ECM solution.
Investments in automation and productivity never go out of style, and the capabilities of SharePoint 2010 put powerful capabilities within reach of virtually any SMB. It may not be for everyone, but it's definitely worth a look.
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