Thinking About How We Talk About ECM
I recently sat down with AIIM Chair Paul Engel, CEO of VeBridge, to talk about some of the challenges of selling CIOs on ECM as a platform.
[Paul Engel is the chairman of AIIM. Paul began his career in the software business. He has sold, installed, and supported software and technical services while working for companies like Unisys, Systems and Computer Technology Corporation and his own firm, VeBridge. Since starting the company, Paul has focused on best practices and quality improvement processes.]
JM: What do you see as the current state of ECM adoption as a strategic platform within organizations?
PE: While most organizations are already using some form of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) tools and techniques, such as document imaging, storage, retrieval and sharing of documents, few have embraced the transformational features of a mature ECM solution that includes tools such as workflow optimization, audit trails, case management and line-of-business application integration.
JM: What do you see as the business benefits of ECM adoption across an organization?
PE: I think this is where as an industry we get into some trouble. We simply make this whole ECM thing too complicated. I liken it to someone asking to buy a car, and the salesman going into a full-blown explanation of how the pistons work in an internal combustion engine.
The C-level just doesn’t care about a lot of the things we tend to talk about in the content industry. My experience is that the C-level cares about only three things – 1) reducing operating costs; 2) improving customer service; and 3) minimizing risk and improving compliance – and anything else is noise.
JM: Going from a single department point solution to something more strategic is a big step. How should organizations go about this migration?
PE: Again, I believe in keeping things simple. Start by looking at all the paper in your organization and consider how to capture it. Go from there to really understanding your core content processes – how they work, how they consume or generate paper, and who touches them – and think about how you can streamline access to all of the information in those processes. Think about what kind of common platform you need to tie across all of these processes, and set up measures to understand your processes and audit their performance. Lastly, don’t neglect the back end – how are you going to systemically document the business. At the most basic level, who did what to whom, when, and in what context – in a form that is robust enough to stand up to compliance reporting requirements, and if worse comes to worse, to legal scrutiny.
JM: If organizations are uncertain where to start, what should they do?
PE: My experience is that most of the business my company loses is not to other competitors, but rather to procrastination and the decision to address their information chaos “someday.” Well, “someday” is here and it’s time to get moving. AIIM did a good job talking about this in its Information Chaos vs. Information Opportunity e-book.
I recently put together a free e-book that gives my recommendation on how to extend the capabilities of your ECM strategy -- Tearing Down Silos, Building Up Productivity.
We are in very challenging times – dramatic changes in technology are putting pressure on business models – and organizations need to make sure they are putting in place an infrastructure that can handle this change.
Former AIIM Board member Michael Croal talked about some similar themes in How Do We Focus the C-Suite on ECM? -- Or Do We Need to Change OUR Tune?
This question of managing and automating core business processes is one of the themes we will talk about at #AIIM15 -- Check out the AGENDA -- I think you'll like it. Also, I've published a new ebook with insights/predictions from some of the speakers (all well-known authors) -- like Brian Solis, Tom Koulopoulos, Chris Surdak, and Sarah Robinson.