The new core business of ECM vendors
by Ernst van Rheenen, on Dec 7, 2016 9:54:33 AM
Centralization and migration! For years, this was a frequently heard advice of ECM vendors worldwide. If one or more ECM systems no longer met organizational requirements, corporate policies or legislation, the most frequent choice was to replace these systems and migrate all content to the new system – most of the time after a cleanup. Of course, the newly selected vendor claimed to have the best ECM system for this process and proceeded without abandon. This principle seems to be shifting gradually.
Document management as core business
ECM vendors no longer see their own repository as a core business. In contrast, currently they see ‘managing documents' in general as their new core business and which repository is used is of secondary importance.
Organizational leaders and their ECM vendor partners realize that centralization is not the best solution, they are quickly understanding that things might be better off if they increase the viability of the different (legacy) systems by integrating them with each other instead of replacing them.
Every business process has its specific applications. For example, there is HP TRIM for records management, SharePoint for collaboration, Salesforce for CRM and SAP HANA for ERP. And all these systems contain their own documents and have specific features. Now companies and ECM vendors realize there is no perfect central document management solution that is sufficient for the entire organization, we advise that they leave these systems as they are.
As the pressure on complying to rules increases, organizations want to gain more control over their information. How does this go along with maintaining multiple repositories? Can you have control of all information present in all of your different systems without centralizing these systems? Yes, that's possible!
In the past this was mainly achieved by point-to-point integration between systems and, in some cases, through a customized document service bus. A new innovation, however, is making a transparent layer on top of the existing infrastructure.
This layer centrally combines documents from all of the different processes: grouped by client, project or, for example, sub-process. The documents are not transferred 'out' of the business application, but directly accessed from the source system in the integration layer using bi-directional connectors. Thus, there is no need to move the existing document collections to a new (central) ECM system.
Document management shifts to full information governance!
Benefits overarching layer
1. Naturally share information
An important advantage of the use of this layer is that users of a variety of disciplines easily have access to all the necessary information. A project manager can see at a glance what arrangements are made by sales, which technical drawings are already available and what has been discussed in the final project meeting.
2. Support experts with expert systems
Many processes require the use of expert systems. Traditionally, people tried to place the information accumulated in these processes in a centralized system that was not really suitable for it. In the new situation, all such information remains in the expert system. In the overarching layer, information is linked to other relevant documents and information.
3. Implementation is not interruptive
The implementation of an overarching layer does not mean interruption of current processes. After all, all the existing systems stay up and running, and can be connected one by one to the new platform with no negative impact on the business.
4. Comply with regulations
With a centralized and uniform overview document management is becoming considerably easier. Therefore, it’s also easier to comply with laws and regulations.