Implementing an ECM sucks - 3 things to know before you start

It’s happening. Your CIO has charged you with implementing a proper content lifecycle management system. You’ve gotten your budget approved. You’ve done the research, selected the best enterprise content management (ECM) system, and you’re ready to purchase it. You’re excited to help the company achieve its goals. Everything is finally coming together! 

But have you thought about the true ECM commitment you’re about to make? In this article we run through:

  • The long-term ECM implementation “relationship” you’re about to enter
  • User adoption challenges
  • The data that your ECM doesn’t secure
  • And appropriate expectations to have around what ECM success looks like

There is nothing more exciting than moving a long-awaited and needed project forward. And with its launch, there is a strong desire to “get it right”.  Part of making sure a large project like an ECM implementation is set up for success is helping to set realistic expectations around what a technology can and cannot achieve. 

In the wild world of enterprise content management systems, there are a few lesser known realities to implementing an ECM. And for all the benefits the technology can offer, there are three things you need to know before implementation to ensure your stakeholders don’t lose sleep over potential project pitfalls. 

An ECM is challenging to implement – hope you’re not afraid of a long term commitment

When thinking about implementing an ECM system, one word comes to mind: challenging (followed perhaps by – oof, ouch, and this is going to take longer than we thought!). 

It’s true, implementing an ECM involves multiple steps and requires a thoughtful roadmap and change management strategy. Companies need to plan, manage and engage at every level for an ECM to be implemented correctly. And even then, unforeseen hiccups and issues will arise.

ECM integrations and implementations are truly a master class in managing change and expectations to deliver on the promised content management investment. Though ECMs offer improved efficiency and security, companies can have multiple ECMs or ECM iterations, which can increase complexity and management of your data.

In the end, getting the implementation right is an important part of the battle to make sure the ROI of an ECM is as high as possible. Make sure you have a robust and flexible plan to manage the rollout.

The user adoption problem 

Another roadblock in realizing the full ROI of your ECM investment is the problem of user adoption. Now that you’ve launched your new content management solution, the next step is to get your employees to actually use it, which is a major challenge.

Based on known adoption rates, it’s a generally accepted fact that you’re not going to have 100% user adoption of a new ECM tool. This is because when you implement a new ECM you fundamentally change the way someone does their job. 

Us humans are creatures of habit, and once we figure out one way to complete a task, it’s hard for us to change. Even with consistent training and resources being invested in supporting employees to use a new ECM system, user adoption typically tops out at 70%-80% at best. 

There are solutions out there to achieve 100% user adoption of your ECM, however, if you’re using an ECM alone, it’s realistic to expect that you’re not going to win over all of your workers or safeguard all of your data.

An ECM doesn’t secure all of your data

Though they can do a lot, ECMs can’t do everything. Unfortunately, they can’t and don’t store all of your data. The main reason being, there are multiple locations where data is created and stored, and if you don’t know where the data is, your new system certainly doesn’t know either.

One driving factor is lower than optimal user adoption (as referenced above). If not everyone is using your ECM properly, then your documents and data aren’t benefiting from its functionality.

Another issue complicating matters is that moving information to a new ECM is tough work. When you start using it, you’ll want to migrate your existing data into it. These migrations are costly, resource intensive, and have a relatively high failure rate

Don’t fret! [Imperfect] Success is achieveable

The truth is, your implementation is not going to be perfect, nor will its ongoing use. But, with this awareness, you and your team can be better prepared to manage expectations for deployment and relative success. Being able to plan and adjust your process as challenges come up will only increase the likelihood of achieving and reaching your organizational goals in the end.

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