Improve Adoption: Keep ECM Easy

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 29, 2014 1:08:00 PM / by Laurence Hart

This is post #2 from Information Governance thought leader Laurence Hart’s 3 part blog series. Check out part one where Laurence wonders Where’s the ROI? or continue on to the third and final instalment Making ECM Easy.


hart2Low adoption is preventing organizations from realizing a solid Return on Investment (ROI) when implementing Enterprise Content Management (ECM) systems. While most projects fail, what factors contribute to success? What keeps people from shifting to working through email or cloud services?

A large number of the successes are process-oriented. This was noticed 7 years back and a wave of Case Management solutions were introduced into the marketplace. These solutions gave every business effort a cockpit and turned everything into a flexible work process.

The process-centric solutions were fairly successful. People were collaborating throughout the organization. They were creating content and saving it for reference or to others for approval and implementation. This was happening not because people like to work in a process, but because the Content Management took place in the same place as the rest of a person’s work. When a person lives and breathes a process for most of their workday, using the underlying ECM system is easy.

Meanwhile vendors like Box and Dropbox were teaching us a valuable lesson. People were more than willing to store their Content in an ECM system. People are not averse to using these systems when they see the benefit and it is simple to use.

That is the key lesson. Content Management needs to not be thought of as an additional task. It needs to be viewed as part of people’s core work. This occurs on two dimensions:

  1. Mental: People need to understand the benefits of everything that is required of them. They see the benefit of 1 or 2 metadata fields. When you start asking for 5 or more, they start wondering how that will make their job any easier down the road.
  2. Physical: Making people move between multiple systems to get their work done gives the impression of extra work. Having ECM systems integrated into their everyday work environment is an important tool for adoption.

The mental aspect is handled by traditional Change Management techniques. Training, awareness campaigns, and involving key personnel in the ECM system’s requirements and design process are all proven techniques that increase adoption. The most successful efforts focus on how the system will benefit both the people using the system and the company.

The physical aspect has been overlooked by most parties. For the average person who lives in the Microsoft suite of products, why should they have to keep jumping to a website to save and retrieve content?

Vendors have not provided a lot of help. They don’t provide solutions that are simple to use, allow metadata to be collected, and support Information Governance.

The need for a simple solution that people can use to take advantage of ECM systems remains unfulfilled. The EFSS market isn’t providing enough of a solution because organizations still need the advanced features under the covers to meet their requirements.

What people need is a simple layer that separates the complexity of the ECM system from their daily jobs.


This is part of a larger discussion online surrounding the trials and tribulations of ECM so if you’re wondering why Glenn Gibson (@Highland_Glenn) kicks puppies you can check out his article here.
Laurence Hart (@piewords) is a staunch lover of puppies and renowned ECM maven and he makes his counter argument here.
Wherein Glenn hotly denies kicking puppies (he's simply not a fan of free ones) and just wants people to know that puppies inevitably end up growing into full sized, ravenous monsters. You just need to be prepared.

Topics: Enterprise

Laurence Hart

Written by Laurence Hart

Laurence Hart is a proven leader in Content and Information Management with nearly two decades of experience solving the challenges organizations face as they implement and deploy information solutions. Laurence is a respected voice in the industry, contributing to multiple publications and speaking regularly on the future of Content and Information Management and how it impacts the challenges people face today.

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