The ECM System is Live!
The ECM System is Live!
David Taylor, VP/CTO
Nearly 20 years ago, a new web-based service called MapQuest appeared on the Internet. For those who can remember back that far you may also remember the awe and the trepidation associated with this new technology. The ability to type in an address and get step-by-step directions to your destination was astounding. It had the promise to simplify both our personal and professional lives. Yet, I clearly recall the fear, and even hostility, some people expressed at what they saw as an invasion of privacy. The power, convenience, and pervasiveness of mapping, GPS, and satellite imagery technologies have now become the new “normal.” We have all but forgotten what it was like to use paper maps, or handwritten instructions on the back of a napkin.
When we work with customers implementing a new Enterprise Content Management (ECM) System we explain that they have begun a journey that will continue to positively impact their organization for many years to come. We encourage them to continue to check and analyze their performance to ensure their initial objectives have been met, and identify new ways this platform can be used to provide additional value.
There are many models for continual improvement. However, most of them are some variation on what is called the “Deming Cycle”: “Plan, Do, Check, Act.” In other words, an organization establishes objectives and plans the work that needs to be done to meet those objectives. After the work of implementing the new process is complete we then check and evaluate the new process to ensure the objectives are being met. With reporting metrics in hand, new objectives are prioritized and actions are taken to make further improvements. This is a continuous looping cycle of improvement.
So, in practical terms, what does this mean? You implemented ECM for specific reasons and you are looking forward to the “new normal”, for things to be better than they were before the implementation. But, when will things get back to normal?
Before we get there I want to pause for those that are still struggling to see those initial benefits. Change Management experts have observed that any change in process or technology first encounters a “dip” before the expected productivity gains are actually realized. Not only is this normal, it is expected. Unfortunately, we often get so caught up in the promise of a better world just over the horizon that we forget that the journey to get there will take effort, and might make our jobs a little harder before they get easier. Hang in there! Good change management should anticipate the productivity dip and take steps to make the dip as shallow and as short as possible.
The “new normal” for an ECM system should be about helping you do business more efficiently by making your organizational processes faster, easier and better than before. Be careful with this statement, however, because sometimes the work has shifted creating “new” work for one person or department but providing overall benefits to the organization. Objectives for implementing ECM usually include productivity gains and efficiency due to increased access to documents and critical information for making decisions. Sometimes, however, objectives include legal compliance, or standardizing on processes which may be completely new. In these cases an ECM system may seem like “extra” work for some individuals.
Regardless of the initial reasons for implementing an ECM system keep in mind the concept of continuous improvement. After the celebratory “Go Live,” keep monitoring and evaluating the system. Explore new ways to leverage your investment. In your explorations consider the following:
- Business Process Automation using workflow technology
- Customer Communication Management including automated notices to your customers
- Mobile technologies to bring documents and workflow actions to your mobile staff
- Tighter integrations with other databases and core line of business applications
- Dashboard reporting, and more
A properly implemented ECM system can become one of the foundational technologies in your organization. Like web-based mapping services, a new ECM system may be both exciting and awe-inspiring to some, while daunting and frightening to others. Over time, everyone will wonder how we ever got along without it.
Check out more about ECM here!
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