You learned some great pointers on choosing the right enterprise content management (ECM) vendor and system in our recent blog post about the topic.
In this blog post, we’re helping you plan for your implementation by providing even more insight on scalability, cost of ownership and hosting.When you’re talking to different vendors and assessing digital document management systems, be sure to follow these best practices.
Focus On Scalability
Just as your system architecture should be future-proof, your ECM solution must also be able to grow with your company — in other words, it should be able to scale in terms of both functionality and the number of users. Don’t base your decision on current needs alone; try to envision your future needs and choose a system that supports them.
You may start out small, using ECM for one department, a few workflows and a couple of document types, but ultimately ECM works best when it’s applied across the organization. As you roll out ECM to other departments, the system must be robust enough to handle all of the additional users without any loss of performance.
The other aspect of moving ECM into other departments is that you might realize you need certain functionalities that you hadn’t anticipated. If you run out of capacity and functionality as you expand the system, you’ll soon have to start over at square one. That’s why it’s important to have a comprehensive plan for ECM and envision possible use cases, scenarios and functionalities you may need down the road, and make sure the vendor you’re considering has a way to support you.
Be Sure To Avoid:
- Choosing a platform based just on your current needs — envision future requirements.
- Choosing an on-premises installation if you’re considering moving to the cloud in the next five years.
- Overlooking the total cost of ownership, including the initial purchase, ongoing cost, training, upgrades, etc.
Consider The Cloud
On a related note, it’s a good idea to ask the vendor whether their offering is available as an on-premises installation, a cloud-based application or both. Many organizations aren’t quite ready to move all of their document management into the cloud, but they’re interested in the cloud as a future platform. If you aren’t ready to move to the cloud today but want to in five years, then the solution you choose today needs to support that and provide a simple, straightforward means of migrating your content to the cloud. Otherwise, trying to move from on-premises ECM to the cloud is often very costly.
Another costly mistake that some organizations make when choosing an ECM system is that they fail to take into account the total cost of ownership (TCO). The initial purchase is only part of the system’s cost — there may also be ongoing costs, such as updates, upgrades and training. If you fail to look at the TCO, you could be in for a bad wake-up call two or three years down the road.
Some updates or upgrades may not be included in the maintenance agreement, for example, or you may have customizations that must be reprogrammed every time there’s an update to the system. These trigger headaches and costs that drive up the TCO. To avoid these unwelcome surprises down the road, you have to ask questions up front and make sure you have a comprehensive picture of the TCO.
If you take a strategic approach to ECM selection and implementation — considering scalability, hosting options and TCO — your chances of implementation success increase and you realize greater value from your technology investment.
Ready to learn more about successfully implementing an ECM solution at your organization? Read our free e-book, An ECM Insider’s Guide: The 7 Factors For Success.
Learn more about enterprise content management.