If you want to successfully implement an enterprise content management (ECM) solution in your organize, don’t simply make a purchase and hope for the best.
Your chosen solutions provider should be capable of asking questions and guiding the ECM implementation process (for more information on finding a vendor, check out our blog post on the topic.
However, to achieve your desired productivity results and return on investment, it’s important you know what steps to take internally to lay the groundwork for ECM success.
If you’re getting ready to implement a new solution, be sure to follow these guidelines.
Bring In Stakeholders
As you plan your implementation, you want to have all stakeholders on board: executives, the IT department and the actual users. Too often, companies try to rush into implementation without taking the time to understand the needs of end users and explain the benefits of ECM. That tends to result in inadequate implementation planning and problems with user adoption further down the road. That’s why it’s so important to have all three stakeholder groups on board and ready to move forward.
To engage your users and gain their insights, interview the employees who will ultimately use the system about their current day-to-day processes, and show them how they stand to personally benefit from implementing the ECM system.
For example, you might ask AP clerks to walk you through how invoices come in, how they file them, how they forward them and then highlight which aspects of the process they find particularly challenging. By having these conversations with users — as well as talking with the IT staff, sponsors, CFO, etc. — you build a comprehensive picture of what this implementation should look like, rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all approach.
These conversations are a great opportunity to ask users what they would like to see in the ECM solution and where the current system is failing them. Also ask them to imagine what their workday would be like if they could simply sit there and retrieve any document with a mouse click, instead of having to search different file cabinets or run down to the basement to find a document. This helps employees envision how implementing ECM is in their own best interest.
While these conversations are important for getting the implementation details right, there’s also a psychological aspect. By going through this process, you ensure that everyone feels like they’ve been heard and that their input is valuable, which improves user adoption.
Leave Nothing To Chance
In addition to getting everyone on board, make sure you look at all of the different angles when planning your implementation. Here are some important topics to explore:
- Existing IT infrastructure (hardware, software and line-of-business applications): Assess your current operating system, on-premises and cloud-based infrastructure, storage system, scanner hardware and key line-of-business applications.
- File storage: This gets into the nitty-gritty of how your documents should be stored. How many file cabinets should you have, and where are they located? One central file cabinet for the whole company, or separate files for each department? Each approach has pros and cons.
- Indexing documents: Determine how you are going to index documents when they’re added to your ECM system. Options include manual data entry, OCR (optical character recognition), linking to an existing database or any combination. Ultimately, the goal is to reduce or even eliminate manual data entry through a fully automated indexing mechanism. Automated, intelligent indexing offers considerable savings in time and money, so ask potential vendors if they’re able to provide it.
- Systems to integrate with your ECM: Look at how document management fits within the software ecosystem used in your organization. In accounts payable, for example, a lot of the information related to your invoices is already in your accounting system, so it makes sense to integrate that platform with your ECM system. Integrating these applications helps eliminate time wasted on rekeying data because it’s already there.
- Data backup: Is the backup system you already have suitable for all kinds of data, or do you need a special one just for the ECM solution?
By soliciting buy-in from your key stakeholders and considering as many potential chokepoints as possible, you ensure your ECM implementation yields success instead of frustration.
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.