I’ve spent a lot of time recently with my head buried in clients’ EIM/ECM/BPM software business requirements and vendor selection criteria, and it’s been fascinating in the aggregate to see when – and whether – in their RFP process the hardware side of the equation surfaces.
In most cases, the conversations center on the capabilities of the information management software: how accurate the OCR engine can be trained to be, how flexible the workflow is, how well metadata can be pulled from and pushed into legacy systems, etc. If hardware is discussed at all, it often is in the context of either scanning or mobility/BYOD (or both), for the choice of device in these places can be critical to adoption and use.
Relatively little time, however, is spent discussing the underlying infrastructure: the capacity and performance of the content servers and image stores, the availability and bandwidth of the corporate network (especially when accommodating remote locations), such mundane but necessary considerations as the ability to support load balancing, failover, and rollback/disaster recovery, etc. It’s almost as if these are throw-away items that can be readily addressed at insignificant cost.
These issues eventually do bubble up, of course, as they are fundamental to the success of any computing solution. But I can’t help but wonder why they appear to come at the end of so many organizations’ inquiries.
Maybe it’s because information management initiatives are more commonly beginning in the lines of business rather than IT. Or maybe it’s because the features and functions available from – and demoed by – vendors and integrators are just so darn amazing that they mask some of the technical complexity that lies beneath.
Whatever the reason, my hope is that you ask the infrastructure questions early enough to avoid any sort of expensive surprise at the end of your RFP process.
Because the most successful solutions are those in which your hardware and software are solidly aligned.