Can O365 Support your Organization's ECM
One Company, one focus, and possibly one future for what commercial and business customers have known as Microsoft Office. Over the last few years Microsoft has rapidly moved its Office products to the cloud, and onto the Office 365 platform. The different systems had already existed as a Microsoft service, but with the wonders of styling and marketing they are all seen together. O365 provides one subscription price (basically) to gain access to Unified communications through Lync, enterprise level e-mail through Exchange, collaboration through SharePoint and Yammer, and of course productivity solutions through Office Word, PowerPoint and Excel. That’s a lot of power in one subscription, but it’s in the cloud and not controlled by your own administrators. The question is, can an O365 environment support your organizations Enterprise Content Management (ECM) Strategy and long-term needs.
There are several major scenarios that I’ve been working with over the last 9 months where organizations are moving from Lotus Notes and/or Documentum to an O365/SharePoint infrastructure for ECM. There are lots of arguments about how well SharePoint 2013 acts as an ECM tool, and from my perspective it achieves the exact level of ECM that companies use in other (I’ll agree more capable) systems. Using the example of metadata application, it’s a struggle, and many ECM implementation only hold the bare minimum. With that said, let’s investigate how O365 supports ECM.
All Microsoft features are up to date
One of the major challenges with ECM in on premise deployments is the need to have all of the latest versions of Microsoft within your environment. O365 is, and will always be, the latest and greatest of Microsoft technology. For example O365 supports two major ECM features e-discovery and site mailboxes that require the latest exchange and latest SharePoint versions be utilized. Once you take the leap to move to O365 (and that is a big leap) you don’t have to worry about this headache any longer. I’ve learned that e-discovery is no longer just for legal holds, and emergency efforts but can be a great knowledge management tool to investigate project information across Exchange, Lync and SharePoint from one location.
Microsoft Office follows you everywhere
Whether you’re using a desktop computer (yes those exist), a laptop, tablet or a smart phone, your Microsoft office content within O365 follows you everywhere. No matter what system you’ve logged into, it remembers the latest documents that you have been working on and syncs the copies of the documents from hard drive to cloud – with almost no problem. Ok, so there are still some bugs to work out, but those metadata attributes that you need to support ECM can be applied from your Office content in almost all of these environments. This allows the user to feel in control, while also following your organizations document management standards.
Oops, we’re still working on it
While some of the major business process features exist within O365 there are some undocumented restrictions to how you may implement solutions. One major item is the development methodology that moves to an “app” model, that has really not proven itself efficient quite yet. On a smaller scale, if you’d like to build a workflow for SharePoint you still can, but if it runs to long it will be stopped and no error will be given to tell you what has happened. Even in 6 months these approaches have changed and been improved on, but there are still gotchas that you must be aware of. At the same time third party solutions are increasingly supporting ECM and other gaps in the O365 through the Microsoft App store.
If you take the appropriate steps to migrate your e-mail, unified communication and then your Intranets and collaborative environments you can have the same, and better ECM features than you currently have access to.
If you’d like to learn more I’ll be starting a Office 365 Webinar Seriesreviewing the value of migrating and key elements of the move.
Also, if you’re looking to move to O365 Microsoft is currently providing a Fast Track offer that support efforts by preferred cloud partners like my company to provide funding for your move - Office 365 Deployment Offer
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