How to Integrate Your Systems of Engagement into Your Systems of Record

By Richard Medina posted 04-12-2013 22:19


This post may help if you’re thinking about what kinds of ECM or Social Collaboration applications should be in your roadmap and how you should prioritize them.

Integrating Your SOEs into Your Solid SORs

Let’s start with a popular distinction, Systems of Record and Systems of Engagement. I’m going to use these terms loosely. There are 3 general kinds of applications you could pursue in your roadmap:

  1. Implementing, enhancing, or integrating your Systems of Record (SORs). These are either internal administrative applications (for accounting, customer service, HR, records management), or line of business applications(for selling and onboarding new customers, making products, servicing customers, etc.). We (collectively) have been doing this for ten or twenty years, and as I said about distributed capture in another context– we have this nailed. When organizations fail with SOR, it’s typically in execution, of failing to do what’s known to work well (it’s a failure of ineptitude rather than ignorance).
  2. Implementing, enhancing, or integrating your Systems of Engagement (SOEs). These may be internal employee team-based collaboration, or internal and external interactive communities, or something else that’s even more nebulous. Some of these we’re (collectively) addressing pretty well. But with a lot of this SOE stuff we’re all just feeling our way so far. When organizations fail with SOE, sometimes just execution is the culprit – but overwhelmingly it’s both strategy and execution (lots of ignorance along with ineptitude handling the new technologies).
  3. Integrating your SOEs into your SORs. These are the most interesting opportunities. We (collectively) can do great here because #3 combines parts of #1 and #2.  We therefore have a good chance of success if we focus on enhancing our solid SORs with SOEs where it makes good sense. This approach also typically provides better ROI than #1 or #2 if done well. (See here for more on how #3 beats #2 in ROI– how social-enabled enterprise applications (#3) beat employee team-based collaboration and interactive communities (both #2).

So I’m arguing that you should prioritize social-enabled enterprise applications, and integrate your SOEs into your solid SORs where it makes sense.  This gives you the most upside versus downside, the most benefit versus cost and risk of failure. Enhance and extend your solid ECM applications with the new social technologies and practices. This approach may not sound exciting enough for some folks -- but it progresses at a steady incremental pace and is empirical. It’s incremental and empirical in that you’re building in a stepwise fashion on what’s demonstrably ($$$) succeeded so far.

How to Pick the Right Socially Enabled Enterprise Applications (which have solid SORs)

In an earlier post I outlined what I’m going to explain in more detail here. First, look at your business processes and pick out some good opportunities. Apply the “Rollout Principle” to order your roadmap. It’s a simple best practice for ECM roadmap design: Roll out the simpler, lower risk, more independent, more foundational components before more complex, higher risk, dependent components.

Definitely do some kind of business case on your candidate opportunities to determine whether they are worth making mobile. I outline how to do such business cases and use an ROI calculator here

To identify and rank SOE-SOR opportunities, we recommend that you segment them into three groups or levels. The three groups are:

  • Group #1: The easiest -- Light SOE integrated withmature Administrative and Line of Business ECM applications
  • Group #2: The more complex and knowledge-worker focused Moderate SOE enterprise social collaboration applications
  • Group #3: The complex and usually process-worker focused Heavy SOE integratedwithvertical Line of Business applications.

Group #1: ECM applications that can be enhanced with Light SOE

Consider Administrative ECM applications first. These applications for accounting, HR, and customer service are mature in ECM and are usually a good place to start before tackling LOB applications or those requiring heavier redesign and use of social and mobile technologies. Basically the idea here is to add social capabilities – particularly mobile technology – at the endpoints. Participants can then use smartphones and tablets to contribute and access relevant documents and content, and participate in workflows.

Now consider Line of Business and general (either Administrative or LOB) ECM applications that can be enhanced with Light SOE. The idea here is the same as with Administrative applications: add social capabilities, particularly mobile technology, at the endpoints to facilitate good quality participation in the process.


Group #2: Collaborative ECM applications that can be enhanced with Moderate SOE

This group is more complex than the first group because the applications, involving collaborative ECM and social collaboration, are less mature and require more social design and technology. This group of applications at first seems like it should be fully SOE (category #2 at the beginning of this post) except for two factors. These applications typically involve collaboration around documents that are expected to be managed in an SOR manner (e.g. proposal development), or they are part of processes that result in documents at certain steps, and these documents are expected to be managed in an SOR manner (HR processes show up in Group #2 as well as in Group #1).

These applications are popular because they are some of the best applications for the new social technologies. We have found that these kinds of applications work well where there’s a start and end to the process, like creating a sales proposal at the end of a well-defined project. Note that I crossed off collaborative applications like expertise identification and community building. Why? Because they are pure SOE applications that require no SOR-type management of documents or content.

Group #3: Vertical Line of Business ECM applications that can be enhanced with Heavy SOE

Group #3 is the most complex --- vertical LOB applications that depend heavily on advanced social technologies integrated with ECM, which serves as the SOR. These are high value (and thus high risk) applications that are developed primarily to be mobile. Unlike Group #2, they are often more process-worker focused. As you read through these, notice that they all depend on trained employees – not untrained “citizens” – to create and capture information, to participate in workflows, to search and access information, and to act on it.

They are the clipboard applications that John Mancini often talks about. When they involve mobile capture, they are the Complex Distributed capture applications I talked about in a previous post. They are much different than Simple Distributed capture applications and require a lot more planning, design, and attention to execution than e.g. mobile receipt capture or business card capture. They also have an entirely different business case – because the focus often depends on reducing process cycle time rather than just reducing the costs of moving paper around.


There’s More

If you’re interested in how to integrate your new Systems of Engagement into your more mature Systems of Record, I’ll be talking about such matters in an upcoming AIIM Webinar on April 24.




#roadmap #socialcollaboration #mobility #Collaboration #SOE #systemsofrecord #SOR #JohnMancini #systemsofengagement