Where's the ROI?

[fa icon="calendar"] Jul 22, 2014 1:26:00 PM / by Laurence Hart

We’re excited to feature Laurence Hart to talk about Information Governance challenges in the enterprise. With over 20 years of experience solving the challenges organizations face implementing and deploying information solutions, Laurence is a widely recognized thought leader and respected voice in the industry. He’s worked as a Content Management Strategist at Alfresco, been the CIO of AIIM, (the leading association of Information Professionals) and continues to be incredibly active and in demand in the industry space.
Laurence will be presenting at the upcoming Information Governance Conference on Sept 8-10 and you can find him online on Twitter @piewords and online at Word of Pie.


whereroiOn my first Enterprise Content Management (ECM) project in the 90s, adoption was fairly simple. It was just called Document Management back then but all we had to do was install the software on the machines and people used it. When they hit the “Save” button in Word or Excel, documents were automatically saved to the repository. People had to take extra steps to avoid using the system.

The Return on Investment (ROI) was clear-cut, simple, and large. Content was now readily findable as it was all in the Content Management System (CMS). Document collaboration efforts that used to take weeks were turned into days. The organization’s ability to hit their turn-around time on requests went from a lofty goal to a practical reality.

A few years later, everything changed.

Every CMS became a website. Saving documents to the system became a multi-step process. You would save the document, open the browser, and upload the document into the system. There was still a copy on the local computer. That copy was often used by people for editing the document without getting the latest copy from the repository. This created version control issues. When people were instructed to remove the local copies they resisted, as they wanted a local copy for when the network was unavailable.

Adoption in the lesser regulated industries became a serious problem. If people were not forced to use the ECM system, they didn’t.

This low adoption has persisted for over a decade. Walk into any large organization and you will find an ECM system less than 5 years old. Before that, they had another system that they replaced because people found it too hard to use. The odds are that there was another system before that one. All these systems may still be in use and adoption of the newest ECM system isn’t much higher than it was for the previous solutions.

In many organizations, you will find SharePoint, OpenText, Alfresco, or any combination of solutions. That does not even account for the latest wave of Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS) systems out there like Dropbox and Box.

This has led us to a world where, according to a 2013 AIIM report, over 60% of organizations still primarily use File Shares. You don’t need to be a financial wizard to calculate the negative ROI on the ECM investments.

The only reason there aren’t more abandoned systems is because ECM systems are expensive to buy and implement. The initial investment can be huge and there is still valuable content in the old system that would likely need to be migrated.

Where are the successful projects everyone always talks about?


Continue on with Part 2 of Laurence Hart’s series... and don't forget the third and final instalment Making ECM Easy

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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