How to achieve widespread adoption of an ECM

Tony Sager - Thursday, July 16, 2015

Not all enterprise content management (ECM) platforms are easy for employees to use or straightforward for IT to deploy. Lack of user adoption still is the most often cited cause of ECM solution failure!  So how can a company achieve widespread adoption of an ECM platform?

In this article, we discuss the common challenges and mistakes made during ECM selection and implementation, and we give you some tips for success that we've learns over hundreds of deployments! 

Not all enterprise content management (ECM) platforms are easy for employees to use or straightforward for IT to deploy. While IT can usually overcome the implementation challenges, employees are often left to lament about steep learning curves and negative impacts on their productivity. In the worst cases, complex and cumbersome information management solutions become shelfware or tools that users circumvent.

The good news is that there are ECM solutions on the market that are both easy-to-deploy and easy-to-use. To achieve the highest possible user adoption rate, an ECM deployment must also initially target the right use case. It must be a good fit with the specific needs and requirements of the business as well as the employees' work styles. As explained in Forrester Research’s report, “User Needs Drive a Solid ECM Business Case,”1  the up-front considerations should include “aligning user needs with technology capabilities.” 

Matching technology to the user needs sounds like common sense. However, historically, the majority of information management deployments were motivated by compliance requirements. According to the cited Forrester report, this trend is shifting during recent years, with more enterprise content management initiatives now aimed at improving productivity. Success in improving organizational productivity depends on accurately assessing and taking into account the end user’s perspective. 

After selecting a solution that can meet the end users’ requirements, boost their productivity, and simplify regulatory compliance, how can an enterprise achieve widespread adoption of the new ECM platform? Some steps to follow:

  • Invest in employee training and awareness. Early in the project, employees should be educated about the business benefits of the enterprise content management solution and be given plenty of opportunities to provide feedback during the deployment.  
  • Involve end users in a pilot test. A pilot deployment can rapidly build employee support for the new platform. Besides demonstrating the benefits to the users, a pilot test will strengthen the business case with measurable results.  
  • Stress similarities. If you have selected an ECM solution with an interface that offers your staff a familiar look and feel, the transition will benefit from the intuitive UI and allow users to quickly and easily locate the information they need. 
  • Let the solution sell itself. Experienced users become champions of the solution when they can share with others how it saves time and helps them make better decisions. 

In the initial stages, a focused pilot test can simplify the roll out, but that doesn’t mean that an ECM solution should be tested solely for the initial deployment use case. Avoid the pitfall of narrow vision since it could result in the validation of an enterprise content management solution that does not suit the rest of the use cases that could benefit from a new platform. A Forrester survey indicated that 60% of respondents had multiple ECM solutions, and 22% had four or more ECM solutions deployed in their business.

Ideally, an ECM solution should be evaluated in terms of the potential to bring simplicity to company-wide use cases. The pilot test should demonstrate these benefits as they would translate to multiple departments and workflows. With additional benefits that include  process automation, reducing paper, simplifying archiving, and strengthening regulatory compliance activities, a best-in-class easy-to-use ECM platform can truly tackle company-wide information management initiatives driven by the business and not just IT. 

If you would like to undertake an evaluation of our ECM solution, please click the link below or contact us. We're happy to assist!

1. Forrester Research, Inc., July 15, 2013, “User Needs Drive a Solid ECM Business Case, Business Case: The Content Management Playbook,” by Alan Weintraub with Leslie Owens and Emily Jedinak. 

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