When the Ideal Solution is not the Ideal Solution

By Greg Clark posted 05-07-2010 10:52


The alignment of business and technology is absolutely critical to the success of an ECM implementation. This isn’t a big secret and I’m certainly not the first to come up with that groundbreaking idea, but unfortunately it’s very easy to say and not so easy to do.

Recently I helped a client work through some challenges they were having in aligning an established business process with a new piece of technology. To cut a (very) long story short, the projects group in this organization had started using a document generation tool that included the ability to route documents for review and approval. The tool was slick; because it is built on top of a database, a change that applied to multiple documents could be completed in a single step. Further, the updated documents could be routed for review and approval then automatically updated in the repository. Fast, simple and very cool. It helped the projects group cut down on the time to create new operating procedures before handing them over to the operations team. What more could we ask for?

Good question.

The operations group uses a document review and approval workflow embedded in their Enterprise Content Management system to update existing operating procedures. The workflow was built some years ago and isn’t fully automated; there is a need for a “real-world review” before routing an updated document for review and approval (i.e., send a link to the document around via email to get comments) and if the same change applied to multiple documents that change would have to be made multiple times. The process was not so fast, not so simple and not exactly cool. However, everyone in the operations group knew how to use the process and critical documents were kept up to date.

The challenge came when trying to marry up these two processes. Even though the projects group was using a “cool” technology that worked for the creation of net new documents, the operations team would have to drastically change their process (not to mention train several hundred users) to adopt this tool for ongoing updates and changes to their documents.

At the end of the day the operating group decided they would keep their old process and old tool. Why? The cost and effort to deploy the latest technology outweighed the benefit for doing so. Everyone at the table agreed the new technology was fantastic and that it was something that should be on the radar but it didn’t address a pressing business need. The old process wasn’t broken so there was no point in fixing it.

It is very easy to get caught up in the wonders of a particular technology but it’s critical to remember that even if it’s the ideal technical solution, it may not be the ideal business solution.

#workflow #changemanagement #ElectronicRecordsManagement #ECM