How can an organization ensure a successful ECM deployment? Earlier this month we discussed what organizations are getting wrong after the implementation occurs; now we thought it would be a good time to answer some common questions you might have about ECM deployments in general. We will talk about why they sometimes go wrong, the steps you can take to prepare for deployment before the project begins, and how to make a strong business case for ECM to senior management. We will also discuss some of the advantages organizations can experience when they choose General Networks for ECM deployment. Let’s get started…

This September, Kenneth Chin, Gartner’s Research VP for ECM, noted in a summit discussion about how companies often fail with their ECM systems after the vendor leaves. What are some common issues that can occur once the deployment takes place?

Two common issues that can occur:

  1. Loss of executive sponsorship.  The vendor often leaves when the implementation project is complete. Unfortunately, the executive sponsor will sometimes exit at the same time and for the same reason.  This tends to lead to partial adoption which can lead to the failure of ECM to achieve its strategic goals.  Sustained executive leadership is the biggest single factor in preventing that failure.
  2.  Loss of the momentum.  There is a natural letdown at the end of a project and a tendency to declare victory and move on to other things.  But while ECM offers tremendous strategic business value, it won’t feed on itself in the way that social media platforms often do.  ECM isn’t always “fun” so it requires sustained effort to continually push the technology deeper into the organization. 

For more information on what could go wrong after implementation, please check out our article on post-implementation issues for RM projects.

Is there anything a vendor can do to ensure an organization is prepared for their new ECM system?

A good axiom for ECM is: if you build it, they won’t come.  Some enterprise tools, like email and browsers, are necessities.  Microsoft Exchange can just be deployed and everyone will start using it.  That’s not the case for ECM.  No effective ECM system is as easy to use as a network share drive, so you need either high level pressure or carrots to promote adoption. 

What’s a good carrot?   

  • Solving a difficult business problem for each group of users. 
  • Implementing workgroup specific customizations or process automations. 

While this approach requires a sustained effort, the outcomes can include high rates of adoption, efficient and competent users, and real business process transformation. 

Are there any scenarios where a new ECM system is just a waste of money and unnecessary?

It is uncommon for ECM systems to fail outright.  When they do, it is often because expectations of the system don’t match reality.  Expectations may not have been realistic to being with.  The system may have been oversold.  The user interface may be hard to learn and put users off.  Managers may not take responsibility for promoting user adoption.  In the end, a successful technical implementation can still be a business failure.   Understanding your business requirements, having well defined use cases, researching your options, and picking conscientious and competent partner(s) are all critically important.

What are some recommendations you can offer an organization with its ECM strategy before it looks for a vendor?

Understand your strategic goals and make sure they can be reasonably met by ECM.  Doing so will not only help you choose the right product but may also cause you to turn away from ECM to another technology that is more suitable.

Chin also noted that an ECM system should be considered for its value in addressing current content strategies as well as its future value? What are some future content management issues that will need to be considered?

  1. The ability to integrate with systems that you implement in the future is critical.  Many systems that collect and distribute documents include SAAS and mobile solutions.  In order to have the most effective ECM system, you must be able to integrate with those systems effectively.   
  2. A product suite that can and will adapt to the changing IT landscape.  Today this means both on premise and SAAS options as well as mobile support.  Tomorrow it will mean new things as technology changes.  Choosing a software vendor with a history of adapting to change is crucial.

In regard to building a business case for ECM to Senior Executives, what should be some important focal points?

  • Brand protection
  • Quality
  • Safety
  • Compliance
  • Efficiency

Is there anything you would like to say on how General Network approaches ECM design and deployment to better help clients find a system that meets their needs?

At GNC, our approach is to find ways that ECM technology can offer tactical efficiencies while simultaneously accomplishing strategic goals as directed by project sponsors.  This leads to better adoption and better overall satisfaction.