How Free Puppy Syndrome Can Ruin Your ECM Strategy

However, IT departments that fail to challenge this kind of short-term thinking are taking a risk -- and that may be surprising news to many organizations. Conventional wisdom tells you to choose the software that produces the quickest win for the least amount of money that the end users like best and will quickly adopt. How could you go wrong with a choice like that?

Fixating on Short Term Objectives can Cost You in the Long Run

Read the following five steps to understand what happens when organizations make the “easy choice.” Then, learn how involving IT in the buying process allows organizations to avoid those mistakes and create success both from the beginning and over the life of an enterprise software solution.

1. Purchasing software primarily based on low costs

Organizations are under pressure to contain spending. In response, IT adheres to the procurement department’s policy to choose the ECM provider who provides software licenses at the lowest price.

2. Pick the system end users like best

If end users are happy then everybody’s happy, right? Not to mention, it’s a well-advertised fact that poor user adoption is the key reason that 50 percent of ECM projects fail. In response, organizations select the ECM software with a user interface that resonates most with the end users and don’t take into consideration how easy it will be for IT to modify as those needs evolve.

3. Go for the quick win

Historically, business units have perceived IT as a hold-up rather than a business enabler. A protracted implementation is a risk IT departments can’t afford to take. Wisely, they limit the scope and complexity of the initial project. Because the initial installation is fairly straightforward, organizations forgo the additional cost of paying their vendor for project management services and detailed documentation of the solution configuration.

4. Learn to live with a millstone around your neck

After the ECM goes live, fast forward one, three or five years to watch the solution become a millstone around IT’s neck. The software end users rated so highly for ease of use is actually difficult for IT to maintain. Making changes to the workflow engine that appeared so simple in a sales demo actually requires writing custom script. Before long, business unit managers begin to complain about why it takes so long for the ECM software to reflect a simple change in their processes.

Thinking the solution was easy to modify, organizations don’t have any budget allocated for the needed skillsets on staff to write and update script. Now the solution is coming under scrutiny from finance because they’re forced to routinely go back to the well for additional budget to pay for vendor professional services to modify workflows.

In addition, they don’t anticipate the time, resources and expenses required for effective governance and change management documentation for the custom script. Over time, the quality of the code begins to degrade as different vendor services personnel make poorly documented modifications. Code changes soon become synonymous with system downtime. The lack of effective change management documentation means vendor tech support takes longer to resolve trouble tickets.

5. The once-loved solution is now universally despised by end users and IT alike

Eventually, business unit managers decide they would rather put up with sub-standard ECM solution performance than deal with the business impact of downtime due to corrective maintenance. Upgrading to the latest version of the software becomes the last thing anyone wants to consider.

This doesn’t have to be the way it goes. IT can provide unique and helpful insight into the buying process so organizations can avoid these mistakes.

In part two, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to avoid common ECM pitfalls and disaster.

Title image by cornfusion (Flickr) via a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license