At its most basic level, transactional content management, better known as TCM, is a software or service that helps organizations do business with their customers and client bases. If this definition feels nonspecific, that’s because it is. Why? Because TCM can be many things and can serve many functions. Let’s dig deeper so your organization can better understand the applications and advantages of implementing TCM.


Understand what TCM isn’t

Before we get too deep into exactly what TCM is, consider what it isn’t: It is neither a process specific to one single industry, nor is it a process that’s demanded by any particular industry. It is one of the characterizing features of a content management solution, or ECM. In short, it’s a definitive part of what makes an ECM solution an ECM solution instead of simply a DMS solution.

Think of it this way: Paper once existed to accommodate the transactional processes of business. However, it’s now a defunct part of the organization process. TCM features enterprise-grade document management and these ECM solutions are playing a pivotal role in helping companies rely less and less on paper.

Defining Transactional Content

Most organizations process quite a bit of transactional content on a daily basis. Transactional content is made up of invoices, claims, purchase orders, case files, and contracts. In short, it’s all the documents, files, and forms that help organizations do business with their customer base, their vendors, and their partners.

TCM is a methodology used to organize, automate, and track this type of content more effectively. Those familiar with business process management (BPM) may find this familiar. While TCM and BPM overlap, nuances differentiate them from one another. Most importantly, BPM is often used when organizations are talking about automating business processes that are document-centric, such as:

  • Claims processing
  • Correspondence support
  • Managing purchase orders
  • Processing sales orders and materials
  • Managing cases
  • Processing invoices

On the other hand, TCM is more precise. BPM encompasses three areas: document-centric processes including reviewing and approving documents, human-centric processes that are carried out by people, and integration-centric processes that are carried out at the time data is actually transmitted from one system to another, or within a single system. BPM focuses on a process, like moving something from Point A to Point B, while the focus of TCM is on the people involved and the final result of the process, like the benefit claim that’s been denied, an approved invoice, or a renewed contract.

In short: TCM is much more about the transaction than the process. It’s not so much focused on how things work but on what is actually moving.

TCM is About More Than Just Paper Scanning

A widely accepted definition of TCM is: “A system of record for managing process-related documents.” While this may be the closest to the truth, it’s essential to understand that TCM is more than just paper scanning, as some may say. The solutions available from TCM act as systems of record for content files. They are not simply static places to store scanned images, they’re actually sophisticated, process-animation, and case-based applications at their best.

TCM can fill in gaps between traditional DMS and ECM solutions. Some of the many functions of TCM include:

  • The ability to capture documents in any and all formats. From paper to mainframe reports, from e-forms to e-mail, TCM can capture it all.
  • Content is more than managed. You can set rules that fit in perfectly with the rules of your business, and can then gauge how healthy these processes are by reviewing them in real time.
  • Organizations are better able to organize, store, and track all of their content. This allows them to find documents when they need them.
  • Processes can run faster and costs can stay lower as a result of an organization’s ability to deliver documents the moment they’re needed.
  • Preservation and protection of documents. Companies can remain compliant with whatever rules and regulations govern their industry.

As you can see, TCM does have some overlap with ECM, but in the end TCM is the most mature segment of the industry. It’s true that it demands the most complicated functionality and domain expertise, but it also provides industry-specific processes that are much more useful and targeted than other options. For example, it can serve its purpose in managing agendas and minutes, in finding deficiencies in patient’s charts, or in processing mortgage applications.

There’s no question that the world is changing, and organizations must change along with them. While other options may seem like nothing more than the latest trend, DMS, ECM, and TCM are all a part of the positive changes many companies are excited to implement.