User features to help ECM adoption

20 05 2010

In the past couple of weeks, this has been playing on my mind quite a bit. As a vendor, what can ECM software provide to make life far easier for users to really adopt ECM and ensure as much content as possible makes its way into the repository? Now, I don’t want this to turn into some woolly post with lots of comments that really don’t mean much, and I want to steer clear of those generic sentances that ECM so often throws up, the ones along the lines of “interface simpler and cleaner yet facilitates greater functionality and efficiency”…great, what does that actually mean…

This post is more of a conversation, than your typical blog, and I want to get people involved here to really put real life ideas forward. Some of them may seem very “out there” but thinking outside of the box is really the only kind of thinking that makes radical changes. So speak up….

I have thought of some things to get the ball rolling, I don’t want to put too much into the post itself as often that seems to get people just agreeing, or disagreeing, as I said, I want people to put forward their own thoughts and ideas…

Out of the box solutions

These are tough, and are required to provide accessibility for SMEs to ECM and to also allow larger enterprises to roll out department by department with an initially low investment. However, out of the box solutions and applications often are “clunky”, so a couple of things spring to mind here….

  1. Let’s let the user configure the “look” of the application. As soon as a user can “tailor” something, they have a little more interest in it. Just look what we all do to our own Windows backgrounds and icons for example
  2. Increase application usability. Be this using things such as drag and drop or something else. I like drag and drop, but I also like context menus and intelligence in the application shown, knowing what sort of content I am working with and only providing me with valid “drop zones” or context menu options…
  3. Mix desktop and the web. I am a strong believer in using the desktop to deliver greater user experiences but we need the flexibility of the web.
  4. Ease of uploading files. Need to be able to make this quick and easy, and not have to ask a user to do a hell of a lot of indexing….
  5. Custom searching. Let’s make it easy for users to create search templates, and save them.

I am sure there are other points that should be raised for out of the box applications, but these are just some starting points. So comment away…..

Application integration

This is always a big thing for me, the more applications that ECM can integrate with, the easier it is to adopt and more of the benefits of ECM are realised within the organisation. So what are we thinking here:

  1. Easy to use ECM tools within typical office applications, such as MS Office
  2. Background integration. By this I mean, automatically reading content out of an application and placing it within the repository.
  3. Tie together key index fields with other systems key fields. Think CRM and overlap the customer details (maybe their account number) with the ECM based content. This makes integration far easier, while also allowing the two systems to work independently but with the same information
  4. XML Web Service availability so that any other application can pull in / integrate with the ECM platform. Web services are a great way of doing this, and really should become the standard for which all ECM APIs are written with….

Ok, I will stop here now. There are so many areas to look at here, and I would love to hear what people think, be you a designer, a developer, a business decision maker, an end user, a BA etc etc.

I look forward to the conversation…



2 responses

20 05 2010
Max J. Pucher

Hello Andrew, as always a very good list of necessary features! The Papyrus Platform offers all of it, especially the subject of user interface adaptation is extremely relevant, even if many large businesses try to ‘standardize’ what the business users have to work with for support reasons.

The one aspect I am not in full agreement is the use of MS-Office. While the integration is actually very easy (if you run on Window and not in the portal) Word is not practical for business documents that contain data. It is further necessary for most businesses to standardize the quality of the business corresponcence sent. Therefore a flexible business correspondence solution is more or less a requirement and dependence on Word can come here as very costly in creation and maintenance of the solution. A business also has the need to create large volumes of documents and Word is utterly unusable beyond a few thousand documents.

I think that the standalone content management world is disappearing. It goes well with your integration direction, but it really needs CONSOLIDATION. One user front-end must deliver content, case, process, and customers focused user interaction (ECM, BPM and CRM) and be so flexible and adaptable that there is no need for add-on programming. No one wants to maintain several silos and their integration code. So many are stuck on outdated Siebel versions because of the custom coding.

Finally, as process and content go hand in hand, the focus really has to be on goals and not on process steps (replacable by content state). More on the subject on

20 05 2010
Andrew Smith @onedegree

Hi Max,

I didnt mean use word as an access point, rather as it is something many SMEs use to create documents with and work with. I therefore see word / office integration as important for SMEs to easily adopt ECM type systems. That way the user can simply press save as, and have thier nice new document saved directly into their repository…

I agree with you, that independent Silos are not good and that the way forward is consolidation. But from an end users point of view, be them in a large corporation or in a small business, what features and functions do they want to see / use in order to ensure content ends up in the repository? One app for everything? Well almost everything, CRM, BPM, ECM, HR, Accounts??? What do you think?

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