Sunday, March 4, 2007

Key Factors for ECM Project Success

Many of the Document Management and ECM System Implementations fail right out of the gate due to several factors. Most of them revolve around planning, and project definition and focus. Below are some key areas that are imperative to a project’s success:

A huge part of the planning for a DMS/ECM System is examining your organization’s network infrastructure and ensuring it is ready. Implementing a system with inadequate resources can provide wrong end user perceptions. Focus should be placed on the below items:

-PC Clients – the client PC’s should have appropriate horsepower to handle their specific tasks. Obviously, basic search clients will not require extensive resources such as memory or hard drive space, but a scanning or OCR station may.
-Network – It is time to get rid of those hubs your brother in-law gave you, and upgrade to 100MB, or in some cases (at the server), Gigabit technology.
-Server – adequate memory, processor and storage is a necessity.
-Backup- often an overlooked area, planning for system backup, now and in the years beyond is very important.

There are so many technologies out there that are incredible, powerful, and just way too complex for any normal human. If it is too difficult to use, end users will not accept the technology, and inefficiency will result. The goal is to make the user interface as simple as possible, but have the necessary complexity behind the scenes to achieve your goals. eCopy is a great example of this principal. On the surface, it is a simple touch screen panel, but behind the scenes, many complex operations can occur without end user intervention.

So many times I hear prospects say, “My people will never use this”. The move to ECM is not only a move in technology, but a change in process and attitude. The benefits and power of the system need to be explained and accepted by management and the end users. There needs to be a commitment to the technology and the change, as well as a setting of expectations. I see so many projects fail because they are not given the chance to succeed, and are doomed right out of the gate due to a lack of support from management. Never accept “We will try it and see how it goes”.

Pilot Program
Always, always start small and grow. Phased implementations work the best, by starting with a certain department or document, and then expanding. This gives the end users the ability to move slowly in the right direction, and it gives IT the ability to identify any problems or areas that were missed in planning. It also allows slow cultural change, which is so important to overall success of the projects. Users can take their time, and slowly adapt to the technology in a certain facet of their daily duties, rather than being “thrown into the fire” with a full move into a paperless environment.

The keys to success for an ECM or DMS are numerous, but the items listed above are key focus areas for the success of any system.