Benefits and challenges of ECM. If properly planned for an electronic content management system (ECM) can provide organizational improvements from 20% to 75% in efficiency, quality, and service. However, if not planned correctly, sprawl will occur, and you will wonder why you bothered. The key to a successful ECM installation? An experienced consultant is to assist with planning, budgeting, vendor selection, and implementation management.
Why is ECM so complex? An ECM system comprises many supporting technologies such as scan, capture, recognition, machine learning, artificial intelligence, content storage, integration to data systems, e-signature, workflow, and electronic records management. In most cases, an integrator will be necessary to assist with integrating and configuring these technologies to form a working system for your organization.
So why can't the ECM vendor figure out by themselves how to configure the ECM system? The process of planning for an ECM system is dependent upon an understanding of business processes, workflows, document management, and records management programs. In most cases, this type of documentation does not exist within an organization or is outdated. It is not uncommon for less than 25% of most processes to be documented and the records management program to be out of date.
Trying to push all the planning and documentation required into an implementation timeframe will stress out users and not allow thoughtful planning. Furthermore, since requirements have not been fully developed, the organizations may have selected the wrong ECM vendor and presented an incorrect budget to the board or senior executives. The result? Change orders will occur as the vendor requires additional funds to complete the project, project timelines are extended, and in many cases, the system will be under configured or not appreciated by the user group.
So what is the proper process of ECM planning? After assisting hundreds of organizations with ECM planning as an independent consultant, here are some tips. The ECM consultant should work with the organization to conduct the following work.
- Develop an enterprise-wide ECM plan. This plan should provide a roadmap based upon interviews of users groups and ranking of processes by need and ECM cost/benefit.
- Process/workflow improvement. This work should identify process costs, risks, issues, and noncompliance; process redesign goals and maps; and change action plans. The idea is to clean up and innovate the process before automation.
- Application requirements. These requirements include business-level needs and storyboards, technical requirements (including workflow), request for vendor proposals/information, change management strategies, estimated project costs, and ROI assessment.
- Update of the records management program. This includes reviewing and updating records policies, procedures, inventories, schedules, taxonomy, privacy, and retention and disposition rules. This information will be the foundation of the ECM system.
- Assist with selection and management of the ECM vendor and implementation. This work includes the development of an RFP, review of responses, scripting of vendor demonstration, ranking and review of vendors, and finalization of vendor contracts. Or if there is an existing ECM vendor or platform, assess how it meets requirements developed in 1 to 4, above. For implementation, this includes developing project plans, timelines, acceptance criteria, and review of vendor progress and completion.
If you would like more information regarding ECM planning, feel free to reach out to me. I am happy to listen to your requirements and provide ideas. Best George Dunn, President of CRE8 Independent Consultants. I can be reached at email@example.com, 206-556-5958 or www.cre8inc.com