An Enterprise Content Management system, as a complex ecosystem of unstructured content, by nature is constantly growing, fluctuating, and evolving. In an earlier blog we discussed how to recognize when it’s time to overhaul your ECM application. Though sometimes necessary, overhauls can be expensive and possibly avoided if you already have an ECM platform in place that has the features you need. You can avoid getting to the point of an overhaul by regular “surgical” tuning of your ECM system and extend its life and your return on investment.

Your ECM System is Like a Ferrari

Not just any Ferrari though. Have you ever seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Cameron’s Dad’s Ferrari was left in a showroom, left completely alone, and it didn’t move an inch. It was cared for and kept safe until Ferris convinced Cameron to take the prized vehicle for a little ride. After all the joyriding by the valets, the mileage couldn’t come off by putting the car on jacks in reverse, then, crash. Even the finest sports cars need tune-ups now and then.

Think of your ECM going from zero to crazy fast with lots of abuse from your users. Then, you try to undo some of the wear and tear, but it’s too late. You need to take care of your system along the way instead of waiting for the crash and then trying to repair the damage. Leave your ECM in the wrong hands, by people who don’t appreciate the value of your system or its complexity, and you are looking for trouble.

Like with a Ferrari, entrust your system to certified professionals (on staff or contracted) who have tuned many ECMs before to optimize their handling and performance, and you will never neglect your system again. You don’t have to go to the extremes Cameron’s Dad did and forbid anyone from using it. Some TLC now and again for your active ECM system will provide a far better ROI.

ECM Performance Tuning Specialists

Partnering with General Networks can help you optimize your ECM environment, so it:

  • Is healthy and sustainable,
  • Operates at peak performance,
  • Reflects your current business processes and organizational structure,
  • Has the most up to date Permissions, workflows, departmental libraries and foldering hierarchy,
  • Retains, archives or deleted seldom used documents, or records which are no longer needed per your retention schedule,
  • Achieves a level of interoperability with other business operations, where it makes sense, and
  • Has an ideal schedule for indexing of new content, and the search module is configured to optimize content discoverability

Below are a number of elements of an ECM management strategy that need human intervention from time to time. Leaving your ECM system running without any maintenance can cause performance issues, erode the quality of search results, and lead to broken steps in your workflow if you have organizational changes.

Keeping Up on Service Releases, Bug Fixes and Patches

Have your users suddenly started noticing a common glitch in your document management system, like a clicking sound when you’re taking a corner in your Ferrari? They may not be alone. If you don’t have the time to monitor the Open Text Knowledge Center for the latest update, or check out the Microsoft SharePoint TechNet forums for the latest best practices, contracting with consultants like the General Networks team can safeguard you from unexpected security exposures, missed backups, or other disasters. You can schedule some maintenance items, but being proactive and hands-on with other tasks is recommended. Delaying on a few patches here or there might not be the end of the world, but sometimes getting too far behind will make catching up more difficult and your risk of being hacked may become too high.

Running Policy Checks

Letting policies go unfollowed is like skipping your oil changes, you’re simply driving your ECM system towards its inevitable disaster. Stay on top of your information management policies and ensure that your data and documents are being stored and cataloged according to those policies. Depending on your ECM platform there may be some off-the-shelf tools or reports that will help you achieve this. You may also find 3rd Party add-ons to your platform to make this job easier. If your policies are complex or your data is in great quantities, it may be time to consider the investment in intelligent data capture and automated data routing to ensure your policies are enforced with less of a need for human intervention. Staying on top of your information will allow your ECM users to find what they’re looking for more efficiently, resulting in your business running like a finely tuned and maintained engine.

Audit Permissions Regularly

If you let someone borrow your Ferrari for a night, do you let them keep the keys when they return it? I know I don’t. Know your ECM Systems permissioning structure and be sure to regularly audit who has permissions to what. Should Joe from accounting have access to those HR records just because he used to work with HR? Probably not. A regularly scheduled audit with reconciliation tasks will help you ensure employees have access only to the data and documents they need.

Cloud ECM Apps Need Love Too

If you are using a Cloud ECM solution, like Alfresco or SharePoint Online, you still can’t just set up the system and leave it to run unattended. You don’t have to concern yourself with database upgrades, web server patches, or other maintenance responsibilities, which are mandatory with on premise systems. However, there might be new projects your company is pursuing, which require new file structures or modifications to existing ones.  Regular maintenance and changes to configuration of your online system to fill your ever changing business needs, or setting up workflow rules to reflect your business processes are often the most complex activities involved with cloud systems. Cloud ECM solutions should also still be monitored and maintained from a data management and security perspective to ensure your data is easily found and secure.

Incorporating ECM into Your Application Ecosystem

As your business evolves and grows, you want to make sure your libraries, foldering structure and permissions are up to date and set-up to scale. Maintaining API integration with compatible versions of your other business systems requires occasional updates. . These business applications might include:

  • ERP systems like SAP, Microsoft Dynamics or Oracle,
  • Office productivity suites such as Microsoft Office 365 or Outlook, and
  • Customer Relationship Management applications including Salesforce, SAP or Dynamics CRM.

The more you tailor your ECM system for ease of use, the more likely it will be that your employees will adopt it. By integrating your ECM solution with systems users are consistently using every day, saving and retrieving files to and from your ECM repository becomes second nature as well.

If your ECM system has been on a road trip sending you postcards saying “Wish you were here!” it’s time to conduct a health check to investigate what steps can be taken to tune it back to optimal performance. As time marches on, and your repository gets filled up with documents, e-mails, and other unstructured content, expert maintenance can help restore your ECM system, so it’s firing on all cylinders.