Expert Tips on Implementing an Enterprise Content Management System

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It’s never an easy task moving an enterprise system from conception to implementation, and enterprise content management is certainly no exception. There are so many obstacles to overcome along the way: You have to identify concrete business needs, which often differ from department to department. You have to sell the project to an executive committee, IT, and department heads. You have to find funding, sit through endless meetings carefully planning and nurturing a strategy, and then go through the daunting vendor selection processes. Many a project has fallen victim to budget cuts, business swings, management changes, or institutional inertia.

It takes a lot of perseverance to carry it through to the end. Yet even if you push past all of the barriers and avoid the many pitfalls along the way, once your ECM system is in place, you still need to sell end users its advantages. You have to be a taskmaster, a teacher, a facilitator, and you have to have a whole lot of patience. It makes you wonder how companies ever get to that end point and successfully implement an ECM system.

We decided to ask some people who have survived the experience to find out what it takes to succeed. We put out the call for real-world, vendor-neutral tips on how to move through the difficult process of implementing an ECM system. We talked to analysts, consultants, and industry experts. In some cases, we spoke to vendors (who undoubtedly bring real world expertise to the problem), but in all cases, we made it clear we wanted tips that were applicable regardless of the selected solution. If you are going through this process, just thinking about it, or reconsidering an existing solution, we believe you will find some useful advice among that offered here. Our aim is to save you time and aggravation as you move through the difficult process of ECM purchase and implementation.

—Ron Miller

On Selling Your Project to the Executive Team

Bring in consultants to assist with selling the idea. They will likely provide more credibility to your pain, and the right solution. — Sue Wear

Clearly explain what your team is going to accomplish with the installation of a new CMS. Stress business-process improvements, reduction in time to create your documentation, and achieving an ROI that meets your company requirements. Customize your presentation to the executive to whom you are presenting. Don’t try to make one presentation fit for all executives. — Teresa Welch

Many companies accurately measure their internal productivity of core processes, such as manufacturing inventory costs, sales productivity, or how they manage accounts receivable, because they know that these are drivers of financial results. Companies often don’t think about the huge impact that effective content management can have because its effects are harder to measure. It is important to establish a business case for content management implementations in order to know what effect you’re trying to have on the business. — Mark Suster

To sell to executives, it has to be more than just traditional ROI software benefits. Usually you have to be ready to sell specific business problem-solving. How does your CMS help to improve specific kinds of workflows? Enable new sales opportunities? Help ensure compliance with corporate regulations? Enable new content sources to be integrated that will provide improved executive decision-making capabilities? Look and listen for these kinds of pain points and have your marketing plan ready to address them. — John Blossom

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