Digital Mind

The role of a content management (ECM) system in a modern organisation. Part 2.

For any growing organisation, a choice regarding content management systems will need to be made sooner or later. In my previous article, I reviewed why increasingly more organisations are deciding to make the switch from an analogous or part-electric content management system to a modern enterprise content management system, which is also known as an ECM. Various studies have shown slightly different results, but on average, the worldwide ECM market is growing by 15%-19% annually. The growth has also been noteworthy in the Baltic market. Although the market is growing, an unpleasant truth has become apparent – more than half of ECM implementation projects are considered unsuccessful. The three biggest reasons for these failures have been identified – time, budget and “acceptance”.

Implementing ECM is not as much an IT project as it is an organisational change project. One of the most common reasons for missing deadlines is setting an overly optimistic time frame combined with too little attention from management and not making it a big enough of priority. The second reason, which both robs us of our dear time and overruns the budget – adopting the technology. Content management is a bicycle which does not need to be reinvented. Even though the problem I am about to describe is occurring increasingly less, we still come across moments when we cannot continue the project because the client insists that, at their company, something is done in such a specific and different manner. I am not talking about the logic of a process, which in fact can differ, but about actual technical functions…

Talking about acceptance, I mean whether the organisation gets used to the new way of doing things and flows with it. Starting from the bottom – e.g. the user – can the system be easily accessed and is every necessary thing available? Is the user interface intuitive and understandable? Countless clicks and redundant actions create dissatisfaction and inner resistance, which should be avoided in this system. I have met with many organisations which have adopted digital content management but they still require countless manual and redundant actions which make you question whether implementing ECM was worth it in the first place.

In the end, what determines whether the goals which are set for implementing an ECM will be reached is how willing the users are to accepting and adopting the new technology. In turn, acceptance largely depends on the quality of change management.

The good news is that these shortcomings have not gone unnoticed and both the technology developers and implementation partners, such as Digital Mind, learn from these situations. Both the technology and the role of an ECM has changed and improved over time.

If we are talking about changes, including the content management industry, I must say that everything begins with changing your way of thinking and paradigms. There are two ways to look at content management –

1) the implemented content management system is like an end destination.

2) the implemented content management system is a part of the processes.

The end destination or a part of the processes.

What do I mean by that?

Very often such systems are presented as a huge archive for all content needs (documents, media, project files, etc.), but only a small portion of the affected parties are usually involved in the implementation process. There is often not a lot of conversation going on with the business process managers about exactly how content management would benefit them and their way of completing select tasks. We as an organisation also used to think that we were implementing content management systems, but now we clearly realise that we are solving business problems.

Because this system has such a broad scope of features and it is applicable in many situations, a demand for power-users (individuals with an advanced level of knowledge about the system) has emerged. At the same time, the end-user nowadays has more say in how things are going to be done and they do not want to go through a training course, read instructions or have to understand all the involved processes and systems. They just want to do whatever select task must be done. And that’s it.

Most ECMs are implemented to improve daily operations and become more efficient. I am mainly talking about supportive or core processes, but these implementations fail inside the organisation. Everything seems fine at first, but when the first communication with a client or partner arises, suddenly everyone is back to printing, signing, sending, scanning and e-mailing documents the old way. A digital transformation means that even correspondence with external partners and clients must be done through this fully digital environment. An ECM must enable such digital processes; there is no way around it. In our experience, clients lead projects where partners work with the same content in one unified system. The clients access their content and share processes, including signing documents through digital channels. This creates new added value not just for the internal company processes but also for external processes. It provides the opportunity to transform their products, services and customer experience by enabling it to be fully digital.

A big motivator for implementing such systems is control and familiarity. Those are usually provided according to the organisations’ wishes and needs. Again, mentioning the acceptance factor, the focus is usually on the end-user and how intuitive the system will be for their content needs, at the same time keeping in mind the interests of the organisation as a whole.

Currently, content management systems are a separate place (monolithic system) where the user must go to get work done. Instead, the content should be integrated wherever the user actually does their work in order to make daily operations more effective and the system more easily acceptable. In the beginning, I mentioned that I do my work in several systems. In most of these systems, I have content management which is accessible in the same window as the program. For example, when I work with a clients’ information in a CRM, I can easily oversee all the content related to this client, e.g. lists, contracts, offers, invoices, applications and much more. If I am working in an accounting/ERP system, all the content about transactions, contracts etc. is at my fingertips. All the needed content is available wherever work is being done. In 2017, Gartner recognised that the classic meaning of ECM no longer fits, and a new segment was born – Content Services Providers (CSP). In my opinion, the main difference between the old and new name is that, now, the user no longer follows the content, but rather the content follows the user. Content management can be accessed wherever the user is – at work, home or on a beach. Through a computer, smartphone, tablet, ECM, ERP, CRM, e-mail and any other means.

You already currently have several of those systems – probably some for working with documents (Office software), e-mail, ERP, maybe CRM, many others and perhaps a document management system for registries and managing content life cycles and employee workflow. By standardising processes and systems, we invite organisations to use a single archive for all of their organisational needs, which nowadays is possible due to possible integrations. This enables the ability to feed the required content to any user in an efficient manner. If the content is in one unified system, it can be effectively managed, controlled and it becomes easier to comply with regulations such as the GDPR. If content management implementation is done correctly, there is no doubt that every employee will become more productive.