8 Steps to Avoid Process and Organizational Problems When Implementing an ECM System
John Mancini

By: John Mancini on September 23rd, 2009

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8 Steps to Avoid Process and Organizational Problems When Implementing an ECM System

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

In a recent study conducted by AIIM, the participants were asked, “Which 3 of these typical problems have affected your organization’s document or records management implementation?“ The top response was "Underestimated process and organizational issues" (40+%). This indicates that these users did not follow a process-centric approach to understand how end-users utilized the documents in the process. The following is an eight-step methodology to minimize this problem.

  1. Identify the business problem.

    This is a key component that is often overlooked. The business problem not only must be identified, but the project sponsor must agree that this is the problem that he/she wants to be rectified.

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  2. Select and train your team.

    It's critical to have key members of the process to participate in the rectifying the business problem. The most important member of the team is the end-user. Without their participation in the analysis and design, the possibility of failure is significantly increased. This does not minimize the need for technical advisors to be on the team as well (e.g., analyst, development, project manager, infrastructure, etc.). Once the team is selected, they must be trained and educated on the project approach, the methodology that will be used, and the capabilities of ECM technology so they can participate in the analysis.

  3. Document the current process.

    Each task of the current process must be documented in detail from the moment the process is initiated until it is completed. Gathering this much detail is often played down by some groups; they will argue that detailed information is not necessary, and documenting the process at a high level will suffice. They seem to overlook the fact that each step in the process is important, or they would not be being performed by the end-user. If the documentation of the process seems to contain a large amount of detail, it's probably because the process is detailed. Capturing what may seem like a trivial step in the process when it is being documented by an analyst can avoid hours/days of rework if it is identified in the initial documentation.

    The initial documentation can be accomplished in multiple ways (e.g., narrative, graphical process maps, post-it notes, etc., or a combination of several of these methods can be used, depending on the complexity of the process).

    The key items are the documentation must detail every step in the process, and it must be simple enough that everyone on the team understands it.

    It should also be noted that end-users, as well-intended as they are, have difficulty detailing each task they perform in a conference room. To obtain accurate information, each task in the entire process must be observed as they are being performed at the workstation.

  4. Verify the process.

    The process must be reviewed by the end-users to verify each task and exception is documented. This accomplishes two things: 1) it assures that the process is documented accurately and 2) it involves the end-users in the analysis.

  5. Conduct a process analysis.

    Once the current process is accurately documented, a process analysis should be performed. Each task is evaluated to identify the non-value added task. This step can either be performed by the system analyst(s) or in a session with the end-users. If the analyst(s) identify the non-valued added task, there should be a session with the end-users to explain the reasoning behind their conclusion and to obtain end-user feedback.

  6. Define the new process utilizing the ECM system.

    The new process can now be defined. This is a group session that is normally conducted by the system analyst. The key participants will be the end-users of ALL of the departments that participate in the process. It was noted in step #4 that it is difficult for the end-user to describe everything they do to complete a task, it is also unusual for end-user to understand that how they perform their task affects the person(s) that are performing subsequent tasks. The project manager and technical personnel should also attend to ensure they understand the new process and can meet the requirements. This session requires that the leader of the session to understand the capabilities of an ECM system and assist the end-users with the design of the new process.

    Having the end-users participate in the design of the new process helps ensure the success of the ECM system installation.

  7. Define the taxonomy.

    By detailing each task of the process, the process documentation should contain an accurate description of which role performs each task and what information they require to perform each task (i.e., data and documents). The process documentation should have also detailed the origin of each document. This information should provide a basis for determining a list of the document types, how they should be captured – scanned or electronically, and who requires access to them (i.e., security). It is also recommended that the existing document repositories be inventoried to confirm/deny that all of the forms and documents were identified.

    Once this information is identified, a session can be conducted with the end-users to determine what indices will be required to retrieve these documents in a timely manner.

    The final step is for the Records Manager to assign the record retention rules.

  8. Create the final design document.

    The system analyst now has all of the information that he/she requires to create the final design document. The entire new process has been documented, which details each task in the process, which role performs each task, and what information they require to complete each task.

    A document taxonomy has been developed that defined the metadata, security, and record retention policies for each document.

This information can be used to select an ECM system or implement an existing ECM solution in a new application. After all eight of these steps have been followed, all of the “process and organizational issues” and ECM software requirements will have been defined.


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About John Mancini

John Mancini is the President of Content Results, LLC and the Past President of AIIM. He is a well-known author, speaker, and advisor on information management, digital transformation and intelligent automation. John is a frequent keynote speaker and author of more than 30 eBooks on a variety of topics. He can be found on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook as jmancini77. Recent keynote topics include: The Stairway to Digital Transformation Navigating Disruptive Waters — 4 Things You Need to Know to Build Your Digital Transformation Strategy Getting Ahead of the Digital Transformation Curve Viewing Information Management Through a New Lens Digital Disruption: 6 Strategies to Avoid Being “Blockbustered” Specialties: Keynote speaker and writer on AI, RPA, intelligent Information Management, Intelligent Automation and Digital Transformation. Consensus-building with Boards to create strategic focus, action, and accountability. Extensive public speaking and public relations work Conversant and experienced in major technology issues and trends. Expert on inbound and content marketing, particularly in an association environment and on the Hubspot platform. John is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of the College of William and Mary, and holds an M.A. in Public Policy from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University.