Summer is often a time for planning new projects and cleaning up old ones. It's also the perfect time to take a look at your ECRM system. With many implementations supporting mission critical business functions, an ounce of prevention can be better than the proverbial cure. With people out of the office for vacations and most new projects starting in the Fall, this can be an ideal time to make some improvements.
1. Test patches and new versions. In order to maximize performance, many ECRM systems take advantage of every feature that the operating system or other applications provide. Unfortunately, patches and new versions of operating systems may not be compatible with the current release of software from your ECRM vendor. Most companies have a delay in rolling out new versions and OS patches because they don't want to bring their system down. Bring up a test environment and try to bring up as many components to their latest versions as possible. Even if you can't implement the latest and greatest module for everyone, you will gain valuable information about the problems on your upgrade path and plan accordingly.
2. Review your storage. Most of us tend to buy storage well in advance of when we will need it, but storage costs continue to decrease even faster than processor speeds increase. Even delaying a storage buy one quarter can mean real savings. Now is the perfect time to take a look at your system's actual performance and estimate how much longer you can wait before you need to migrate or buy new storage.
3. Stress Test. How many transactions per minute can your system handle with your types of objects and network topology? Not sure? Well, you aren't alone. Most systems don't go through stress testing when they are initially installed and those systems evolve with upgrades and new applications making the initial results less useful. Stress testing for capture, retrieval, and workflow can give you baseline metrics that help you stretch the life of your ECRM system and accurately predict the impact of new workloads.
4. Clean up your system. Many organizations run their records management disposition schedules at the beginning of the year, but that is frequently a very busy time of year. Use the summer to dispose of records in accordance with your retention schedule and policies. For non-records, de-dupe tools can clean up both the object and database storage, making the system faster and easier for users. You will also likely find some orphan records and bad metadata. For example, most systems have an abundance of documents with metadata or records tags that are "AA" or the first drop down option. Users do this to get around classification systems they consider to be cumbersome. Not only can this cause legal problems, but it may be an indication that you need to change some indexing screens or "big buckets" to make it easier for the users. If your system includes full document management capabilities, don't forget to look for 'orphan' documents that belong to former users or documents that have become permanently "checked out".
5. Update your ECRM Roadmap. Your system won't last forever: new modules, business functions, and data types mean systems will evolve. It is always good to have a roadmap for what you expect over the next three to five years. If you haven't updated your roadmap in the last couple years, you could end up paying substantially more in the future or make it far more difficult to implement new functions or applications that require ECRM.
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