5 Signs Your ECM Project May Be In Trouble

Begin a project with the end in mind – success, right?  I mean, nobody takes on a new technology project expecting it to underperform. Everybody kicks off a project with high hopes and a plan for coming in on-time, on-budget, and delivering on the business promise. But still, many projects disappoint. Why is that the case?  Warning signs come early; project owners don’t have to wait until the project is in a ditch. When it comes to image/workflow optimization projects, we find there are at least five clear warning signs that appear early.

Warning Sign #1:  the solution is requirements-driven, not vision-driven.

Sometimes there is a fundamental flaw in how the solution gets defined. The business people, aware that ECM can improve their world, and the technology people, excited about deploying their skills in service of ECM, sit down to define the solution in their languages: business requirements and technical requirements.

But too often, neither has the end-state in mind – the vision. Nobody has painted the picture of what the business would look like afterward. The business people haven’t had the opportunity to become familiar with all possibilities of the new technology and processes. The technology people, lacking the vision, start with requirements because that is the long-standing IT model. So, both sides labor in good faith from their separate frames of reference to arrive at a mutually satisfactory solution. But both sides are bound to come up short of the possibilities and consequently create a solution that doesn’t do all it could or should.

Imagine a couple, ready to build their dream home, calling the architect, and the architect sending back a long list of requirements. Or imagine the couple and the architect gathering the framer, the brick mason, the plumber, and the electrician and working out the vision and then the details together.

A dream house is like an ECM project in this respect: Anything that involves significant change and delivers transformative improvements begins with a vision. It proceeds from a clear picture of the “after,” so that a methodical path can be charted from the “before.”

That picture can’t be drawn by anyone who hasn’t seen or built one. If the couple hasn’t walked through other dream homes, if the architect writes instead of draws, if the brick mason and the plumber work only from their own set of instructions, then it would take a staggering series of coincidences to deliver a dream house instead of a nightmare.

Here’s another way of saying it. If I were to show you the requirements for our last five implementations at major banks, you could hardly tell them apart. And yet each bank had vastly different business problems and created vastly different configurations to solve those problems. If we had built their solutions on their requirements – built the same solution for each – they would still be waiting for the payoff, instead of racking up competitive gains. Instead, when they told us what business problem they were trying to solve, we helped them paint a vision that captured the possibilities, and shared that with both sides of the house. From that vision, they created the business case and requirements emerged – different for each of the five banks.

When we see a business case built on requirements instead of the vision, we see a recipe for frustrated users and cost overruns. In about a year’s time, that owner will be paying for several hurriedly mustered ad hoc projects to force fit what got built into the business unit that now regrets not having started with the vision.

Let a compelling future-state vision drive the success you want to create.

About the author

Rick Smith, President and CEO, President and CEO

Rick Smith is President and CEO at Imagine Solutions, enterprise content management (ECM) specialists and provider of Encapture, a premier enterprise capture platform. Rick founded Imagine Solutions in 1998 to bring companies an innovative, cost-effective way to take advantage of advances in digital imaging and content management. With his leadership, Imagine has built a solid reputation for rapidly delivering enormous cost savings and significant improvements in business processes and workflow.


More from this author