Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Key to a Successful ECM Solution

Without intending to diminish the features of ECM, I think it's important that we recognize that most of what we rely on for content management and document management is the solution that wraps around the core capabilities of ingestion, extraction, storage, rendition, metadata, classification, retention, and workflow within ECM platforms. In the vast majority of solutions, the user experience is not driven by the ECM core capabilities. It's delivered by a business activity aligned user interface that supports a work task with the content, metadata, and workflow necessary to get the job done.

In the solution narrative, business users are so important that they get forgotten. Establishing an ECM platform can be a sizable investment, and the temptation is to aim for generic user interfaces and start by pushing out of the box capabilities onto users. When that works, I'm all for it! ECM can be done on a configuration basis, and new UIs like Content Navigator do so much more than prior front ends were capable of. Unfortunately, that doesn't work very often.

The reality of our world - or so my selection of specific smartphone apps informs me - is that successful adoption is tied to a user experience first. Capability is the second factor. Reliability is the third. What came out of the box is pretty much an infrastructure concern, and most users are happily unaware of the underpinnings and the technology that they rely on unless it breaks down too often or they lose their data or it requires a manual to use.

Solutions leverage ECM. ECM out of the box is not, per se, a solution. There's so much more we can do with the digital paper trail of our organizations. We do that by enabling the business solution with ECM and enhancing the business capabilities with the content and metadata and content initiated workflows within ECM. Out of the box is great when it comes to delivering the engine, transmission, and chassis. Business users get excited when you bolt on the rest so they can go for a drive.

Joe Ruske is the ECM Technology Manager at Prolifics. He has over twenty years of experience in Information Technology including analysis, design, development, integration, facilitation, vendor management, and management. His professional expertise includes business process design, information systems architecture, software design, security, heterogeneous systems integration, project implementation, and client management.