Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The gaps in document management software (Part 3)

In this series of posts, we’ve already addressed some problems with current ECMs. The problems we’ve talked about are:
  1. How the fight against paper has come to a standstill
  2. The complexity of available software
This time, we’re going to work with a problem that’s even more serious than the previously-mentioned ones:

3. Businesses have to acquire different applications to solve one single problem.

To explain this problem, I’m going to rely once more on the words of Ken Burns, Analyst Relations Manager at Hyland Software.

“There is also a problem with overkill. All of the suite vendors currently operating in the market produce suites consisting of a collection of technologies, but none of them can solve all business problems. This has led to suite-fatigue, Burns says, which stems from the fact that ECM vendors have been trying to provide too much functionality to users, without looking at what users are actually trying to achieve.”

In addition to Mr. Burns’s words, I’d also like to illustrate this problem using the “ECM Roadmap” diagram, from the AIIM. This image shows all the distinct technologies used to cover the  life cycle of content, from capture right through to preservation. As the image lays out very well, there are a lot of technologies that a company needs to acquire, when, simply, all that businesses want to do is to manage and maintain the information that’s vital for their businesses.

AIIM - ECM Roadmap

We ECM software providers have developed a different software package for each thing that comes up. I can give you a couple of examples:

  • Provider: What content do you want to manage? Client: We’re an audio-visual producer. The information we’re most concerned with managing forms the core of our business – videos and other graphic materials. Provider: Then what you need is digital assets management software. Client: And if we want to manage our invoicing, too? Provider: Then what I’d recommend is document management software.

  • Provider: What is the problem that you want to solve? Client: We have a substantial number of invoices from suppliers whose expenses need to be approved before they can be paid. We’ve got a lot of people taking information from the invoices and putting them into digital format in the application that we use to manage costs. Provider: In that case, I think that what you need is capture software.

  • Provider: What documents does your institution want to manage? Client: We are a government agency. For us, it is fundamental to find a system that covers archived documentation and documentation connected with the cases we carry out for our clients. We must define a life cycle for all this documentation, like a conservation calendar, and that the documentation falls in a classification table. Provider: So…I think that what you need is a record management system.

For a client, various questions might come to mind:

  • Does that mean that my multimedia content isn’t considered enterprise content? 
  • Shouldn’t ECM software also be capable of helping me manage multimedia in the same way that documents require management?
  • By chance, capturing information and documents isn’t an integral part of the life cycle of information? Why do I have to acquire additional software?
  • Why won’t my ECM software allow me to manage my records? (OR:) 
  • Why do I have to buy an additional module? Is it because. somehow, my records aren’t documents?
We providers of ECM have made it it so that we can either answer those questions, or clients, for lack of knowledge, have left those questions out. However, the problems of having to acquire various applications for the management of business digital content do come up, sooner or later: 

  1. The nightmare of licenses, or other costs: Users have to pay more to solve problems that the licenses should have already fixed; and what’s more, they have to battle with complex licensing systems that work “seats-style”, extra support, etc.
  2. Problems of integration and the systems “talking” to one another: If that wasn’t enough, for that information to be managed throughout its life cycle, the connection between systems has to be covered, In 80% of cases, guaranteeing this “ability to talk” means development, development that is subjected to software versions, updates, changes, etc. In this integration process, the non-compatibility of the different tools can become an authentic nightmare for businesses.
With these problems, it’s normal that (to use the term coined by Mr. Burns) “suite fatigue” happens in document management.


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