The Considerations of the Modern ECM Migration

Migration and Considerations

In the years that I have been in this industry, I have seen countless ECM migrations. Many that are successful, and others that weren’t so successful. In recent years, though, the motivations for migration have changed. Sure you have the typical M&A that pushes organizations from one system to another, but that only accounts for about a quarter of all migrations according to our annual migration survey. Motivations now have shifted to put an emphasis on increased features and functionality of systems. Not to mention the introduction of cloud offerings like iManage and NetDocuments have seen a spike in users in just the last year. Cost savings is always a consideration when it comes to migration, but it’s definitely a close second to features and functionality of a system. In this ECM market, there are fewer choices than there have been before. These are all considerations for a migration, but we’ve seen several areas, that if considered properly, will help you be as satisfied as possible with your move.

Managed Services vs. Multi-Tenant

Multi-Tenant or SAAS applications like NetDocuments are great platforms for cloud use. They help reduce the cost needed for management of the platform and save on physical storage required.  They can simplify the way you manage your Document Management System. However, if you’re looking for functionality and customization, a managed service might be your best bet. Because a managed service platform like iManage is installed just for your organization, it can be customized and optimized to best fit your organization and custom processes. We see this as one of the largest drivers for firms and organizations wanting to stay with their managed service platform.  On the same token, we have seen many firms starting to evaluate multi-tenant applications to reduce management overhead asking themselves, “Do we really need the customization?” A multi-tenant application may seem lacking in some of the breadth of functionality that a managed service can offer, but in my experience, all the bells and whistles are usually not what is going to make or break your ECM migration. What it is really going to come down to is evaluating your processes to ensure they are streamlined to make the most of your employees’ time. Then you should re-evaluate the features you need based on the processes and metadata required. This will help you identify whether or not you require the bells and whistles and ultimately set your ECM up for success.

Is the grass really greener?

Recently, we surveyed IT professionals about their experiences with ECM migrations. What we found out was that 46% of those who migrated were not happy with their new system. If they are unhappy, then what is the point? Our migration survey revealed that the respondents unhappiest with the migration cited planning of the migration and organization of content as their top challenges during the migration. What this ultimately tells us is that users were unhappy with the initial system for a variety of reasons. The organization and users likely saw a new platform that had a new and updated interface, and it looked like it could solve the problem. However, the problem is often not held within the colors of the interface or the design of the buttons; it’s often in the implementation. Based on our survey we believe that many people who are unhappy with their current or newly implemented ECM’s are basing that on the planning. If you don’t understand the needs of your employees, it’s hard to implement an ECM to help them work efficiently. Remember, planning and having an effective way to organize, search, and sort your content is often more important than the interface you view it from.

The user side of things

IT professionals have a good idea of how systems work, but they aren’t the best at explaining what these systems are specifically used for. Users will give the best idea for what features, capabilities, and integrations are needed within their ECM. In the survey we mentioned above, we asked about the specific drivers that pushed organizations to migrate their ECM systems. 51% of our respondents cited cost savings as their main driver for migrating systems. That was closely followed by 48% that said their migrations were driven by the need for additional features and functions. The desire for a more user-friendly UI came in at 34% of respondents, and M&A came in last at just under 25%. What this tells us is that more people are moving systems because they are looking for more functionality and better UIs.

In my last blog, I talked a bit about millennials and how they are demanding the use of cloud systems for firms and organizations to be competitive. They are a workforce that is used to collaborating remotely and they have certain expectations about the functionality of the business systems they use. Users will be the best resource available to find out what you really need in an ECM system. And you’re going to want to make sure that the new system is something that actually does what it says it can do. There is always the option of implementing and integrating best of breed solutions, over an all-in-one that may or may not do everything it is supposed to do.

Where is the potential system vendor going?

Let’s face it, even after you migrate to a shiny new system, it won’t stay shiny forever. As systems and platforms age, your work processes evolve, and the technology of the business world rapidly changes. This means that before moving to a new system one of the best ways to ensure future success is to look at the vendor as a whole. What is their reputation? Are they growing? Are they hiring? Are they quick to innovate and improve their product? Possibly most important, what does their roadmap look like? You want to pick a vendor that you can stay with for years, not because you have to, but because they will continue to fit your needs in the long run.

Migrations have never been easy decisions for an organization to make and undergo. The change that the industry has seen in the past few years is also complicating the considerations that need to be made prior to an ECM migration. Industry leaders must pay attention to the modern consideration for migration and really spend the time to vet systems, solutions, or alternative actions.