In simple terms, Information Management Systems (IMS for short) are computer systems used to track and store information.  The ECM Consultant writes that “An IMS is a comprehensive set of applications, processes, and technologies that are used to collect, store, and manage data. The goal of an IMS is to provide better access to information for decision-making purposes.”  They range in complexity from free email storage solutions to fully customized interfaces depending on the size and needs of a company.  How a business uses an IMS can be just as important as which system they use – Subscribing to a robust system but not taking advantage of all the tools that the IMS comes with will burn through budgets unnecessarily while, on the flip side, trying to find loopholes within a free consumer product to keep up with your competitors will ultimately drive down a team’s efficiency thus costing the company more money than the service they’re receiving.  Below are some pointers on what to consider when looking into a new IMS for your business.  

Knowing when you need to scale up and customize

Every business is, of course, different.  Whether or not scaling infrastructure and operations is necessary will depend on employee count and what kind of work is being performed.  For instance, an accounting or law firm might prioritize document storage and e-signature functionalities while a Marketing agency could be looking for CRM capabilities in addition to the document storage and sharing.  As a rule of thumb, knowing when to tweak IMS comes down to a matter of minding your time spent on technology.  Taking thirty minutes to find a particular document?  Don’t understand how or where to adjust sharing permission outside of the company?  Not able to track and analyze your content?  If you’re experiencing any tech-related pains, chances are it’s time to take a step back and look at your IT operations from a holistic view.  

What the customization process can look like

In many cases, customizing existing systems is a more efficient and cost-effective option when compared to deploying new solutions.  The process can take time, particularly when there’s a lot of historical data and documents to go through.  It’s worth setting up a Governance Committee that includes stakeholders from all areas of the business to initially discuss challenges, gaps and functionality needs for the organization.  From there, developing a map laying out desired storage structure and where there may need to be overlaps, discussing access and sharing permissions along the way, will help solidify the direction of a refreshed IMS.  At times overwhelming simply due to the amount of data being looked at or perhaps due to a lack of technical knowledge of a given system’s capabilities, outside help can be brought in to rally teams and collaboratively develop a plan for layout and execution.  Enter managed services.  

Managed services in the IMS world are of great value, particularly in the early stages of any cleanup and/or transition.  Having a third party be involved in the initial assessment and analysis can offer mediative relief for some teams all the while bringing best practices and their expertise to the table.  Having dedicated experts available on-call to troubleshoot through migrations and any learning curves that teams may face beats DIYing it any day.