True ECM Savings…#4

29 06 2009

In this post I am looking at collaboration, and how ECM saves money and promotes collaboration.

Getting everyone together

This is exaggerated when your staff are spread across multiple departments and locations. In todays global markets, talented individuals can often be spread out across the country and the globe. If this is the case, then your staff will have to travel and really set aside large chunks of time to get together.

Typically what happens in any size organisation, is that an eMail is sent with a number of files attached. This is usually some form of agenda and any documents that may be looked at during the meeting. People then decide a date, and get together, thrash out the discussions and changes, then someone types up the results and modifies the documents accordingly.  More often than not, such meetings take up large chunks of time, simply because everyone has to “get together” to collaborate. Such getting together results in some over-night stays, nice restaurant food, nice hotel and of course all on expenses…

Where are the savings?

Well first off, before I look at the complete obvious, let’s have a quick look at the IT side of things with what’s happening here. By sending a mail to multiple people with files attached to it, you actually use up a lot more space on your mail servers and place additional strain on your network. Why? Well this is because each file is copied for each recipient, something that your eMail providers wont like. By using ECM you can “share” content without you needing to attach a physical file. You simply attach a link into the website, this takes up no space and therefore frees up your mail server and network of the additional strain of copying and sending lots of physical files.

In the same way, everyone (with the correct security role) has access to the content required for the meeting. They can all view it electronically at the same time and even update files. So is there a need to “get people together”. Well yes, but not physically.

ECM provides the capabilities to collaborate and work in teams. A number of ECM platforms actually come with collaboration tools and virtual meeting type software. This means that ECM allows people to get together over the internet, and work on the files together from their own offices. You can if you choose still get everyone together, but in a virtual environment. Alternatively, this may not be a requirement, and people can still collaborate and share information without an actual meeting, real or virtual. Remember collaboration isn’t just about meeting and discussing, it’s about connecting and sharing, and in today’s web environment this can include the use of social media.

The savings

Well there are the savings on your IT infrastructure, bandwidth and mail server. These are hard to measure and pretty small, however, they are savings.

The big savings are around time and travel. Firstly, your staff don’t need to allocate large chunks of time to a single meeting, simply because they can collaborate through ECM. This means they can work more efficiently and spend greater time on actual work tasks rather than travel. Secondly, they don’t have to travel to the meeting. If travelling a long way, this saves greatly on travelling expenses and of course your organisations carbon footprint. Thirdly, overnight stay expenses, hotel fees, restaurants etc. All these add up, and by using an ECM platform you remove these additional costs on your organisation.

Finally ECM provides a real platform in which collaboration in all senses can take place. You don’t need to push physical paper around from department to department and even across countries. Teams don’t need to wait for other teams to finish with files, nor do they need to physically meet to discuss projects / move forward. ECM provides a platform that allows everyone to collaborate which raises efficiency, saves money and lowers an organisations carbon footprint…Now that’s a lot of savings over the course of a year…

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Deploying ECM across the enterprise

23 06 2009

I was keeping the world up to date with my day on Twitter, when I read quite an interesting article based around an organisation looking to invest in ECM and deploy it in one lump across the whole of their enterprise.  The article was looking at the “main” players in ECM, so Oracle, IBM and EMC Documentum. It really highlighted the problems these companies had in pitching to the client, demonstrating their product and trying to show how this would work across the complete enterprise…

Having worked with all of these companies in some form in the past, I remembered just how great their platforms are, but also how heavily entrenched they are with marketing and hype. Putting together a demonstration was never a 5 minute job!

Deploying across the enterprise

This is a lovely idea, but in practice unbelievably hard to achieve (don’t listen to sales banter). I really don’t see how it can work well.

Let’s look at some of the basic challenges of deploying a single ECM solution across the complete enterprise in one go:

  1. Scale – If your enterprise sprawls across the UK, or even Europe and the world, think of the challenges you have of implementing the system, allowing access and dealing with distributed performance…None of these are show stoppers, but remember a lot of logistical work will be needed
  2. Training – Ok, how you going to train hundreds maybe thousands of users for a go live date?
  3. Individual requirements – different parts of your business will have different requirements / needs from their ECM platform and BPM
  4. Administration – again logistical challenges
  5. Support – you need to have in place vast support services

None of these points will stop a project; however each one requires a lot of thought, a lot of processes to be put into place and more importantly a lot of people with drive to ensure everything runs smoothly. However, point 3 (individual requirements) is potentially a show stopper, and it is this point that the large players in the ECM platform try to address with management, configuration, integration and mapping tools. These all demonstration well (when the sales agent gets it right) but actually require a lot of “professional services” to get them working to meet your actual requirement.

Delivering for everyone

It looks great in a demonstration, the presenter simply clicks on a wizard, answers some questions, fills in some datafields and hey presto, your system is integrated and reading in data from a third party. Wow. Likewise, the presenter clicks on a nice processing map, drags some icons onto the screen, joins them up, again ads some datafields and hey presto, you have a workflow….

Now this does look great in a demonstration. And in simple cases, this will work for you. However across the complete enterprise? Will it be flexible enough to meet everyone’s requirements? Are the simplish points of integration shown so well in a demonstration going to work like that for your organisation…….I am guessing a strong NO here is the answer.

These sorts of tools are great for demonstrations, even great for very simple integrations and maps, however the price you pay for such tools far outweighs their actual benefit to your organisation, unless of course you leverage some “professional services” to ensure the system meets your businesses complexities.

The investment…

So to achieve a massive roll out of ECM across your enterprise, you are looking at a massive investment in both time and financially, and then no doubt you will need to address individual units of requirements….All of these factors make it harder for your solution to succeed and deliver that promised ROI.

How would I go about things?

Well first things first. My ECM platform / purchase would not include fancy integrator and mapping modules. For me these add vast costs to the initial purchase and licensing, on top of which you have to purchase additional “professional services”. In my experience, it would work out cheaper to just pay for “professional services” to develop the integration (for example) with your other systems from scratch. Essentially this is more often than not what happens under the term “Professional configuration services” or something similar. However, you have also made a purchase for that integration module license in any case….

This is one of the reasons why I stopped working with the big ECM players, and decided to invest time and resources into our own ECM platform workFile (www.workFileECM.com) We have not wasted time nor money investing in complex integration tools and modules, that look great in demonstrations, but fail to deliver real business benefit. Rather, we develop the integration you require specifically for an organisation, meeting 100% their requirements, based around our open XML Web Services API (something you should insist your ECM provider provides). The same applies to our business process maps, workFile utilises the development platform of Visual Studio to design process maps. Why? Well a developer has so much freedom here, so much so, they can code complex business rules, algorithms, calculations, integrate with numerous other systems and make the workflow work seamlessly for the end user, basically ensure the process map is the power behind the actual solution.

Secondly, look to deploy your ECM unit by unit, or department by department. Each department will have a different requirement, and each department requirements need to be looked at seriously. An enterprise wide ECM solution will only work if each department takes it on board and uses it correctly. This is only going to happen if the system meets their requirements and is championed by the staff.

By implementing ECM unit by unit, you ensure that requirements are not lost, you ease the load of training, administration and support, while easing new processes onto the organisation a step at a time.

 

Conclusion…

By working in a unit by unit basis you not only identify all the requirements needed across the enterprise, but you also ease your implementation headache and keep costs down (often removing the need for fancy enterprise integration modules). For sure, your ECM provider will try to make you go for a “big bang” implementation across the complete enterprise, and no doubt, show you some wonderful tools that make it all seem so easy. But there is nothing stopping you striking that enterprise wide deal, then addressing the implementation on a unit by unit basis, re-negotiating cost if needs be as you go.

Remember fancy demonstration tools may look great and promise the earth, but almost always won’t meet 100% of your requirements. So you need to know what you are looking at for “professional services”, again on a unit by unit basis…





When the cloud provides savings

18 06 2009

Many organisations are looking at possibilities in which “cloud computing” can provide savings. However, many IT people themselves will resist migrating large areas of their IT to the cloud, and for good reasons. After all, there are so many considerations:

  • Security
  • Accessibility
  • Potential Expansion costs
  • Support
  • Migration
  • Etc

When looking into cloud computing, it makes great sense for consumers and small businesses. For medium organisations and larger corporations, the numbers just don’t add up, and there are far too many “concerns”.

This is something I have posted about in the past; https://andrewonedegree.wordpress.com/2009/04/20/does-cloud-computing-save-money/ and is something that more and more people are talking to me about…So, does the cloud provide savings on storage? Savings on software? Administration?

Storage savings in the cloud?

Errrmmmm. Probably not. Not even if you are a small business or it’s just you on your own. Storage space and storage devices are so cheap now, your far better off just plugging in a removable hard drive and using that as a storage device. Ok, so it’s not a mirrored drive, but you can automate your backups quite easily and you can even take them off site, all this at almost zero cost monthly.

If you look to use the “cloud” for your storage, you may well find that your monthly outlay will be creeping up. My own company has stopped providing these services to small organisations simply because there isn’t a saving to be made. On top of that, if you have large “lumps” of data to store online, it can take a hell of a long time to upload.

So when does the “cloud” provide savings?

Basically, if your volume of usage is low, then the “cloud” makes great sense. Let’s look at Microsoft Office running in the cloud. Small businesses basically all purchase an Office license, and with it they use Office to run large areas of the business (in micro-businesses maybe all of the company). However, Office in the “cloud” provides them with pretty much the same functionality at a vastly reduced cost. So instantly there are savings to be made.

SaaS (Software as a Service) really can provide genuine savings, especially for small organisations. There are also the added benefits of “sharing” information through “cloud” based applications. Though again, please be careful, not all SaaS provides savings, especially over the longer term. Many applications that operate in the “cloud” also store your information in the “cloud”, and as such can mean a cost for using up x amount of space.

Our own workFile ECM solution can be used in the cloud as SaaS. There are great savings to be made for smaller organisations, as the amount of content they access; store etc in the cloud is small enough not to have any impact on cost. However, if their requirements got to a level where storage and bandwidth becomes real issues, it makes great financial sense to purchase and implement the system internally.

 

Conclusion…

The “cloud” can deliver you and your organisation great savings if the volumes are right. Always, always, always, monitor and make sure you know what volumes of usage and storage you may / are using. At a point, the “cloud” stops delivering savings and starts providing you with added costs…





Do we need a web browser?

17 06 2009

There have been a lot of discussions I have seen floating around on Twitter etc with regards to HTML 5, and will it kill Flash and Silverlight. To be honest, there is no way this can happen, simply because both Flash and Silverlight do not rely on a third party to make them work. In addition neither has to conform to a generic standard which can hinder their functionality. Both have product roadmaps and both move forward at a rate that such a generic implementation could never hope to achieve. This means, the user experience will always be (potentially) better, and that’s the main aim.

However, both Flash and Silverlight based web experiences do rely on a browser. A browser has to be used by the end user to locate the web site, and then for the Silverlight / Flash plug-in to be executed. After that, the browser is pretty much redundant…

In the beginning

In the beginning of the Internet, a browser was simply used to locate, access and display basic documents, that were formatted in a particular way in which the browser would understand. (I know, I am making this very simple, but I want everyone to see where I am going with today’s post). This allowed people to access these documents that were stored somewhere and read them. If you think of a browser as Microsoft Word for example, and the HTML as the actual document, you start to see where I am coming from…

Browser wars…

Jumping forward, and into the web as it was a few years ago (before social media, videos etc),  the browser started to become an integral way of accessing content on the internet. Using HTML format for the documents, the browser allowed users to use an address to find that content, then interact with it (move around the website etc). Now this is all fine, if you have one browser, or a set of hard and fast rule of standards that everyone conforms too. But we don’t, in practice that is…

There are many browsers out there, which essentially have the primary of displaying HTML content to you, the user. However, as users we want more. We want to have options to store favourites, access feeds, personalise my browser etc etc. We also want websites to do “things”. We don’t want to just read content. So what we end up with is companies fighting for us to use their browser, which in turn turns into a bit of a nightmare for web developers as their supposed standardised HTML gets displayed differently in different browsers. Worse than this, some functions just simply don’t work in some browsers…

Does browser wars actually help end users?

Old way of thinking…

For me the web has moved on. We are already saying goodbye to web 2.0, and some smart person will term web 3.0 before long (which will actually mean nothing different to web 2.0 or even web 1.0…) my point is, the web hasn’t changed its implementation, only we as users have changed the way we use the web and what we expect from the web.

The concept of using a third party application to access content on the web is old. I don’t like it at all. I also think that using HTML or any standardised format to deliver applications is plainly wrong. As a developer you are always being “shoe horned” into a way of thinking and working which hinders the application look, feel, interaction, and therefore detracts from your users experience.

Internet websites are no longer formatted pages of information; many now act as applications and with Flash and Silverlight, deliver highly rich, interactive user experiences. With such websites, the browser is simply used to find the RIA (rich internet application) and start it. The application isn’t run by the browser at all. So do we need a browser for this?

HTML 5 is supposed to deliver the ability to show video for example. However, the same issues will still apply between browsers and websites; they will just now be even more complicated.

A new way of using the web

In my own mind, HTML should remain as it is today, however, with standards (especially regarding CSS) tightened. HTML is fine at delivering content, that’s after all what it was designed for. However, delivering complete websites, rich user experiences should be left to bespoke software, such as Flash and Silverlight. This form of distributed computing power helps the end user, and enriches their experience. I see no place for a browser on my machine, and would rather see the ability to browse the web as part of the underlying operating system.

Websites can then be developed in whatever technology they require, such as Silverlight or Flash. These technologies then display the website / application as they should. The web is used to provide access and download the application / content, no need for a browser…

I hear some of you crying at this point “how will a search engine pick up the content”, which is a good point. However, search engines must adapt. Why can they not interact with Flash and Silverlight? With the latter, the content essentially is stored as xml, so it’s not a massive leap. Also, what’s stopping search engines from picking up on tags that describe the content fully, still within the hosting HTML?

HTML shouldn’t be seen as just something a browser understands, rather a format the operating system itself understands. Once this happens, and we use the web to distribute applications and information in this fashion, many of the headaches of the web will be removed, and we can truly open up the potential of distributed and mobile applications / rich experiences…Silverlight 3.0 already delivers an out of browser experience, so are we far away from this ideal?





Cutting IT costs…It all adds up!

10 06 2009

In a series of posts I have been looking at the ways in which ECM can save organisations money. However, today, I thought I would look at how business can make savings with regards to IT related costs in general. By following some “general good practice” rules, your organisation can make savings each month, which over time all adds up. Below I have compiled a list of points and questions you should think about, these will help you save money!

 

1.       That energy bill

Let’s face it, energy bills are a large expense of running any organisation. IT makes up a large portion of your energy bill, and as such, good IT energy-saving practices can drastically reduce this cost. So here are some pointers on how to reduce that energy bill:

  1. Consolidate your servers wherever possible. If Virtual machines are an option, take advantage of the energy and space savings these can bring
  2. Ensure your staff don’t leave work stations on for no reason
  3. If staff aren’t using the monitor, have them turn it off, rather than leaving it on with a screen saver running
  4. Take advantage of power setting options in your Windows operating system
  5. Turn off lights in your server room, these only need to be on when someone is in there working
  6. Switch to energy efficient light bulbs etc across the complete organisation
  7. When purchasing IT hardware, check the energy rating of it.
  8. Cut down on the number of work stations available. There is no point in having work stations available and switched on, if no user needs them. Allowing “hot desking” often helps here
  9. Allow some users to work from home
  10. Remember stand-by is not energy saving. If you don’t need something on (PC, Monitor, projector etc) then turn it off completely

By following these 10 guides your organisation will notice reductions in that energy bill almost immediately. In addition, think of the reduction in your organisations carbon footprint, an added benefit when saving money!

 

2.       Does our staff need all this technology?

Often staff request and enjoy using all the latest gadgets and technology. A fine example is Blackberry phones etc. But, before you issue these, does this staff member really need this technology? Is there a real benefit of investing in this gadget? The same can be applied to work stations, often over-specified for the users’ requirements and therefore more expensive than needs be.

 

3.       Mobile perks?

Many employees today enjoy mobile phone contracts with your organisation paying for x minutes to the network provider. This is understandable, and keeping connected for many business users is very important. However, 1 in 4 members of staff only use 75% of their minutes.

It is very hard to put together mobile phone policies for organisations, however its best to continually review your requirements for each individual, probably on a ¼ per ¼ basis. My own company does not provide mobile phones, opting to pay for any calls / a proportion of the bill based on the amount of time is used on company business. This drastically reduces mobile overheads.

 

4.       Can an employee work from home?

By allowing employees to work from home (not necessarily everyday) your organisations saves money on office supplies, electricity, heating, air conditioning and even space. This means do you really need to be paying for such a large office environment? Could you down size?

The benefits are also there for the employee. For those who commute, the added stress of this commute is negated, which can only be a good thing for productivity. There is also the reduction in your employee’s carbon footprint relating to them commuting to the office. Finally, employees working from home can be more productive on intense tasks as they are less likely to be disturbed.

Corporations are often scared of this because of two main reasons:

  1. Are their employees actually working, or are they doing the house work?
  2. IT Security. Are we secure if people can work remotely?

Well the first concern will always be there. However, if you judge your employees on what they deliver, this can be quickly established if they are able to perform while working from home. The second option is not a concern. Modern network security and configuration ensures your systems are secure.

My own company strongly supports individuals working from home and collaborating over the internet when required. This means that our registered offices are kept to a minimum size and are only used when required. We have found that productivity of staff is actually increased, mainly due to increased working hours and a reduction in commuting stress and time. Working remotely also has drastic impacts on our energy bills…

 

5.       Outsourcing

Outsourcing certain IT tasks / jobs can save vast amounts of money. However, it can also cost you vast amounts of money. It is therefore imperative that you review exactly the costs and savings that can be made by outsourcing your IT for each particular area and job. There isn’t a golden rule here, and you must look at your own organisation to get a real feel for this.

Do not hire full time staff to carry out tasks that do not equate to in hours, to a full time job. Look at contractors or organisations that can provide you with skilled individuals on an ad-hoc basis.

Certain tasks do lend themselves to using outsourced IT skills, but these do vary from company to company and the size of your company. For many small to medium sized businesses, great savings can be made by utilising an IT organisation to provide your IT support and maintenance. However, larger organisations are often aware of security issues and prefer maintain some of their own personnel who will be in charge of IT strategic decisions and security. This is fine; however, for lower skilled areas / where security isn’t such an issue, contractors and outsourced services can still provide great savings.

Consultants often have a high initial investment attached to them; however, good consultants will provide you with new ways of looking at business processes and use of IT. Check the credentials of your consultants and ensure you obtain a daily rate and fixed number of day’s quotation (if possible). Also be clear what you expect them to deliver at the end of their project. This helps you maximise the potential return on this investment, something which can be hard to measure initially.

 

6.       Failing to test upgrades

When upgrades to systems are available, ensure they work on your current architecture and ensure they won’t harm other applications etc. This is imperative. Many man hours and money has been lost by organisations that roll out changes without testing them properly. This means added work is generated repairing and then testing correctly the upgrades. This can not only have an impact on your IT staff, but obviously on the actual business processes your IT is there to run and support.

 

7.       Upgrading technology for no reason

Sometimes machines are upgraded for no good reason. What is the point of paying for additional hardware upgrades when there is no benefit to the users or to the business?

Though many organisations choose to upgrade their hardware and software on a “routine basis”, this isn’t always the most cost effective method. For example, organisations choose to upgrade their hardware every X years. If in a “leasing” scheme, this ensures fixed costs monthly, however, many organisations purchase their own hardware. For these companies it is far more cost effective to ensure that upgrades are only carried out when required (however, please don’t take that as advice to wait until hardware is ready for the scrap heap).

 

8.       Failing to upgrade hardware and software

This is really the flip side to point 7. If you fail to upgrade your technology or software, you will hinder the way in which your business can perform. There is no benefit in maintaining hardware that breaks down, is now far too slow to keep up with your software or causes security issues. It simply stops your staff getting their work done, and reduces productivity and ultimately, has a negative impact on your efficiency and profitability. In addition, modern machines are much more energy efficient, again providing savings to your general IT costs.

 

9.       Hardware branding and costs

Ok, so you like the look of brand X, and you want to move all your machines to that brand. However, is that brand the best value for money? Does it really offer you better long term stability? Energy efficiency etc. All too often, organisations are tempted to commit to a certain brand for their hardware, without looking at the competition.

Also, do you really need that super-wizz-bang printer? Or could a simply Laser jet do the same job for you? Again, too many organisations over specify their actual hardware requirements, which mean they overspend.

 

10.   The cloud for storage and software?

The buzz word of the moment, the cloud…Can cloud computing save your organisation money? Well this is a strong debate, for me, larger organisations don’t have much savings to make from utilising the Cloud for hardware, storage and software. However, small organisations may well find savings to be made by utilising cloud based hardware and services. Ensure you check this out in great depth, there are far too many claims made about cloud computing saving money when once you look under the skin, will more than likely save you no money or in reality, cost you more.

 

11.   Keep a lid on the training budget

Some software you purchase will require large amounts of investment in training. However, there are always efficient ways in which to train staff. Do your employees really need to travel great distances to attend training days? Do you need to send staff members off to a particular conference? It is always worth considering peer to peer training where only a limited number of people are trained and they share this training knowledge with the rest of your staff.

There are also great arguments for on-line training facilities and DVD based training options. Both of which can prove to be effective and very cost efficient.

 

12.   Company expenses….

In light of MPs expenses, this may already be in your mind. In my own experience, travelling or working away can often mean for some, a “jolly on expenses” outing. While I don’t want to appear like a scrooge here, such activities and mentality can cost your organisation vast amounts of money over time.

If you have more than one employee travelling to the same destination etc on company expenses, ensure they travel together and take the most cost efficient form of travel. Again, not only does this save money, it also reduces your organisations carbon footprint.

Ensure you have strict and clear expense policies. This includes food, drink, hotels, phones etc. etc.. And don’t be flexible with these policies (word soon gets around if someone has got away with something they shouldn’t have).





True ECM Savings…#3

9 06 2009

So this is now my third post on this, and in this post I will be looking at people time management, well, more specifically how organisations waste employee’s time, and ultimately money…

Our staff really are busy…

Many organisations are happy if their staff appear busy, they believe this is a good indication of the organisation itself being busy / productive. But being busy is not a great sign of anything. You have to know what your staff are busy doing, is it higher valued tasks or are they struggling to manage their time because so much of it is wasted on lower value tasks.

It is understood that professionals can spend up to 50 percent of the time looking for the right information. That’s an awful waste of resources and money, and is a great example of diseconomies of scale for enterprises. This means that an additional 50 percent of a professional’s time could be spent on higher valued tasks, such as looking at business opportunities, dealing with customer enquiries, help improve customer satisfaction and reduce the time it takes to do their actual paid work.

There is also the issue here of employee satisfaction and moral. As an employee, you will feel a lot more satisfied, valued and productive if all your time is spent on valued tasks rather than wasting 50 percent of your time, getting frustrated looking for information.  This in turn has an impact on performance, and therefore could quite easily increase efficiency and productivity of your workforce further.

The savings to be made?

Well with Capture software and a good ECM solution, your content and information is stored so that staff members can quickly search and locate the correct information they require. This drastically reduces the time spent looking for that information. This in effect, gives back to your staff up to 50 percent of their time, allowing them to be more productive and for your organisation to run more efficiently. There are also the added benefits of increased customer satisfaction levels, which are always hard to measure, but are one of the most important keys to maintaining a customer base and being successful.

Quick conclusion…

Staff are paid for their time, and you want your staff to deliver as much value to your organisation as possible, so why pay them and have them waste their time searching for content. That is simply poor management and poor organisational systems, both of which continually hurt an organisation year after year.

A good ECM solution gives time back to your staff so that they can get on with their work; it’s as simple as that.





ECM functionality, let’s expand…

3 06 2009

Those of you who follow my blog posts will already know that my company has its own ECM platform, something we have worked very hard to write over the past 4 years. We are currently working on a new “out of the box” interface and upgrading the core ECM product itself with additional features….

This work has got me thinking quite hard about additional features and functions that our ECM platform could deliver, offering something different and more to what we already provide.

Expanding ECM functionality…

So, what features and functions fit into an ECM world, or what could fit into an ECM world? Well there are lots of options, many of which I won’t discuss here, but I wanted to see what other people thought, so I posted out into the Twitter universe and got a lot of interesting replies. Very interesting. If you use twitter, is well worth following:

http://twitter.com/seanrnicholson , http://twitter.com/djbressler ,  http://twitter.com/skemsley and with a more BPM hat on http://twitter.com/DevilsRefugee

 

Wiki

I have already had a number of discussions with Sandy Kemsley (http://twitter.com/skemsley) about Wikis and ECM (see my post https://andrewonedegree.wordpress.com/2009/05/22/wiki-or-document-management-ecm/) For me, Wikis are an obvious feature to include into an ECM platform, after all they deal with content and ease of access. I like the idea of them being incorporated into an ECM platform because ECM brings to the wiki so much more in regards to security, retention periods, management etc etc.

Micro-blogging

Well with Twitter, we all know how popular micro-blogging has become, and how useful it can be. Within an enterprise there is definitely place for micro-blogging functionality, helping keep people up to date with things happening around them. Again, by incorporating this functionality into an ECM platform, you gain all the benefits ECM solutions can deliver. There is also nothing stopping the end user interface from pulling in content from such sites as Twitter too, allowing users to review more public tweets along with private work based posts…

Discussion threading, forums and collaboration

Collaboration tools are already quite popular with ECM vendors. However, is the content that is generated in such collaboration sessions stored? Are discussions and discussion threads stored and managed? Not at the moment…There is great benefit in storing this content, especially as it can provide reasoning and arguments for why something was done. For example, why does a particular publication have these images selected? Wouldn’t it be of great benefit to see / listen to discussions that took place while in meetings, real or virtual, about that publication?

By storing such additional content against files, the ECM platform delivers additional knowledge and insight, something that could prove invaluable for the lifecycle of any content.

External web sources

This is something I like. I am very aware that many users leverage the web to gather information. More often than not, such users carry out research on x number of websites (often not diverting away from these). Users often visit each website checking for updates, or they view feeds to check for these updates. However, this isn’t searchable as in the sense a user may search for something from Bing or Google.

By storing external content from websites for users, users can search that content whenever they need, with the ECM platform updating this content at specified periods.

 

Conclusion…

ECM platforms have the potential to encompass so many other functions that are performed currently by other types of software, and “do it better”. In today’s enterprises and climate, it’s more important than ever to maximise staff and business process efficiency. ECM solutions are ideal for doing this, bringing together different software features and functions into a single, manageable enterprise wide solution…

For those of you who may be interested, our ECM platform is workFile ECM. Our workFile Vision offering is not yet available, however all of the features looked at in this blog are on our product roadmap and will be delivered via our workFile Vision solution very shortly…(Thought I had better mention that)

 

Have your say…

I am always interested in reading what others have to say on this, please, please post your own comments on features and functions that you would like to see in an ECM vendors platform.