There are a lot of Enterprise Content Management systems (ECM) on the market nowadays. My company has working experience with Alfresco, EMC Documentum, IBM FileNet, Microsoft SharePoint. In this article I’d like to figure out, how exactly ECM can be useful, what problems can be expected while implementing ECM and how to cope with them.
Our experience has shown, that while choosing an ECM you have to decide first, what options in particular you need at the moment, what options you don’t need at all, and which of them you may need in the future.
We can make a conclusion that ECM should bring following:
- Improve the efficiency of business process management thanks to analytical reporting system and performing tasks monitoring system.
- Improve employees’ efficiency thanks to the interface adapted to the central tasks, ability to the quick information search, notifications and reminders system, task deadlines control systems, simple interaction of the employees within the work on a single document or a single business process and many other modules of modern ECM.
- Improve performance discipline thanks to effective tasks performing control system.
- Accounting and long-term storage of documents with the precise control of access to information.
- Some reduction of employees’ working time and consumables’ costs.
All these benefits of ECM implementation can be really achieved. However you can face a couple of unexpected difficulties caused by human factor when implementing the system.
Employees reject new way of work. ECM implementation causes changes in usual working environment. Employees can feel suspicious about innovations. To neutralize the negative effect you can try to switch to the new ECM step by step. At the adjustment and testing phase it’s better to show the system to the future users and collect their opinions about the functions’ convenience or inconvenience, involving them to the system creation process. Create trust to the final product. User starts recognizing the system. The feeling of helplessness is getting replaced by the pleasant feeling of control over the system. In our experience people like to see realization of their ideas in the final product. It is though very important not to overdo it. Sometimes it is worth it to spend your time and explain how to make this or that functionality right based on the functioning experience of ECM. This approach though can misfire too. We developed ECM for a political institution, for example. During the ECM development and implementation there appeared a change in the institution management. As a result the team got completely different. New people bring new points of view. And new requirements for the system of course.
Fear of control and job rating. When ECM is implemented you get a precise control over the employees’ activities. The system estimates ratings of job quality uncompromisingly and precisely. We know an employee can be scared by the fact that if he will not be able to affect all his/her urgent tasks at the end of the day, it can have negative influence from management on his/her work. Any employee can have such fears. It is important to explain to people: this situation can display that the work flow is too high and an employee needs an assistant e.g. It is also a great opportunity for the management to notice “chokepoints” in the business process flow.
According to our experience the ECM implementation discloses problems in the document management rules of the company. Instead of the human factor presented by manager you have to deal with a cold task performance system that always operates according to its internal regulations.
In conclusion I’d like to emphasize: despite all known both evident and hidden difficulties of ECM implementation the implementation effect leads to the direct resource saving as well as to improvement in work efficiency and quality. After difficult training or retraining of employees is done ECM implementation brings higher work comfort, satisfaction with work conditions, and higher work quality. In our practice we had situations, when clients who needed only small ECM adaptation began to enjoy this way of work. They started to trust it and now they order more and more improvements.