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A Slippery Slope: Limitations of ECM, CLM and GRC Modifications


Can Contract Life-Cycle Management (LCM), Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Governance, Risk and Compliance (GRC) solutions be modifed to replace the functionality of the others. All share some of the attributes of the others, but each possess unique capabilities that cannot be easily accomplished by any one solution.

At one time it was thought that the best way to solve ECM needs was to purchase an ECM suite from a single vendor that provided all the necessary modular functionality required by a content management repository. While this “holy grail” of ECM was originally believed to be achievable, today enterprises recognize that while core ECM functionality can be delivered broadly, differing business needs, process needs, transactional needs, back-office needs and unique industry needs make such a solution unrealistic. The result is that companies now appreciate that specific, targeted content-related solutions have far greater success in helping them to eliminate inefficiencies and realize business goals.

So where does Contract Life-Cycle Management (CLM) fit in the overall scope of things? CLM is certainly an ECM solution, but if properly executed it is a narrowly targeted, highly effective niche ECM solution. It is one of the specific, content-related solutions discussed in the prior paragraph. So, can you manage with just ECM or CLM and get by? If you want a secure controlled documents repository with collaborative document creation capability and managed access rights and you want full contract life-cycle management best practices that are sufficiently flexible to handle any contract type and any business process and a deep, searchable internal contract knowledge base, can you manage efficiently with either one or the other? The answer is if you want both capabilities, the answer would be no, you need both solutions. You need a foundational ECM solution and a niche contract management solution. Will they behave and play together nicely? Well that depends. From inception OSCM contract management from openSourceCM was designed to share data easily with other solutions.

Governance, Risk and Compliance solutions have become increasingly important to enterprises. With the advent of Sarbanes Oxley, HIPPA and other mandated governance, risk, compliance and auditing requirements, GRC is a highly specific requirement onto its own, with the need to generate detailed analytics and comprehensive risk assessments.

So while ECM and CLM can share certain content management, access rights, collaborative document creation and document security attributes, and while GRC and CLM can share certain content management, workflow, audit management and compliance elements, no single solution is capable of properly satisfying the requirements of the other. So how do you assess your options? The answer is: 1) you must first determine whether each solution meets your niche needs individually. 2) You must determine if data and control must be shared between environments or they can work stand-alone. 3) Lastly you must determine whether each individual environment is capable of easily sharing the required data. Fortunately, at least in the case of openSourceCM, our OSCM contract management solution provide the full range of contract life cycle practices, i.e. the necessary access rights, collaborative document generation, contract management approval process templating, deep internal contract knowledge base search and a highly detailed contract management audit trail capabilities that you should expect. This means it can operate as a comprehensive CLM only solution for managing contract documents, or it can interoperate to share data with well-behaved GRC and ECM solutions.

So if your enterprise requires the capabilities of all 3 environments, you will likely need 3 separate solutions. Now your challenge is to discover three that will play well together.

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