Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Expert AIIM Article: Are Records Management and Usability, Together, Even Possible?

By Errin O'Connor, Founder & CEO at EPC Group.net

October 25, 2011 - 6:40 AM

Why are 75% of the organizations in the United States (with an enterprise presence) looking at implementing a records management solution and why are they drawn so much to a particular Microsoft platform?

Can you have an enterprise content management (ECM) \ enterprise records management (ERM) solution with an easy to use interface that users are drawn to? How about a centralized platform that the organization can use as a Service? Lastly, can the organizations Intranet be seamlessly integrated as well as your file shares, exchange public folders, and other online or proprietary applications?

Ohh, and its needs to be accessible via an extranet and on mobile (Tablet and smartphone) devices as well.

The answer to these questions is why FileNet, LiveLink, Documentum, eRoom, and about 15 other platforms I can think of are losing market share by the day. I know I may get the “open source” and Microsoft detractors or those whose technology platform are in the direct line of fire of this tool or whose online “cloud” service can’t match up (comments), but that is understandable.

I thank my lucky stars every night that I joined the right team. Implementing a multi-million dollar ECM\ERM solution several years ago and literally having users not use it has happened all over the map. Enter SharePoint 2010…

I will also play devil’s advocate for a second as I had an interesting conversation with a client the other day regarding their company’s new records management plans and future roadmap. The organization had already made its mind up that SharePoint was not a true records management platform.

In fact, they did not even want to see a live demo of 3 different Enterprise Content Management (ECM) solutions that EPC Group had built and were in production for 3 Fortune 500’s that everyone would recognize as almost baseball and apple pie in the U.S. Did MOSS (SharePoint 2007) cause this? Probably so, and if all they had seen was an out of the box “record center” in MOSS than I can hardly blame them. In SharePoint 2007, there was a whole lot of customization \ configuration that had to be done to compete with the FileNet, LiveLink, and Documentum’s of the world.

It was very possible but not very attractive to the masses. In over 150+ implementations of SharePoint 2007, my teams and I at EPC Group don’t disagree on what you may have seen in MOSS (out-of-the-box) but SharePoint 2010 is a whole different animal and SharePoint 15 is not going to be any different…but back to the main point.

Why have so many Fortune 1000 organizations aligned themselves and committed to a SharePoint future roadmap strategy? They combined Gartner leading quadrant records management requirements with a tool that is easy to use and can meet the needs of 10 different enterprise requirements including social\professional networking and guarantee of a solution that will be around for at least another decade.

What would users think of when they hear the word usability or just “easy to use”?

•Effective and efficient in supporting work
•Easy to learn and memorize
•Error tolerant and efficient in error recovery
•Allows for a pleasant and safe working environment
•Making sure our end-users have an easier time learning new training, remaining productive, and accepting change if the end product is easy to use.
So what does usability really impact? What’s the ROI (we are looking at the bottom line these days!)?

•Continued productivity in core task activities
•Acceptance of changes
•Increased effectiveness in training
•Increased speed of adoption
At its core?

•Users can complete high-impact, critical must haves
•Users have productivity level understanding of easy to use ECM and collaboration tools
Note: Also, if you’re not doing it before your competition or spending the time and money to innovate you may lose market share and fall behind.

A lot of us who work from both sides of the isle (the company looking for a consulting firm and partner to assist them in integrating such a high profile project \ solution AND the consulting organization who is trying to not only win your business but show why they are different than all the other SharePoint firms and why you should feel safe spending your available budget and signing on for the engagement) understand budget is tight and every last dollar must be squeezed but there can be no cutting corners or taking shortcuts. It’s a hard decision for clients’ \ companies but one that must be decided. When does not spending money and saving budget start to kill innovation?

Usability is not only about the Internet Browser from a laptop or desktop and SharePoint 2010, it’s about mobility and those “edge” devices. Every single item discussed above must also be thought of in a case of a tablet device or a smartphone.

Usability must be managed in your companies MME or Mobility Management Experience. You may refer to it as a different acronym and I believe this thought process will continue to evolve but take into consideration not only company issued devices but the iPad that your CFO is about to get for his\her birthday. How do you manage usability on that device and govern it? Can you even do that and are your companies’ policies and procedures not yet updated to cover a situation like that? You’re not alone and it’s something that must be addressed and soon.

By selecting a platform that is going to give you not only ROI by replacing other expensive systems and allowing everything to be centralized, but to choose a solution that is going to be uttered every few seconds because it’s being used constantly its key to measure its “Usability Value” -

•Measurement and validation of end-user performance
◦Core work tasks
■Critical Must-Haves
■High Impact changes
◦Easy-to-use Information Management and Collaboration tools (Add Social\Professional Networking)
•Measurement of solution’s value to Businesses and End-Users
•Identify performance and feedback-based usability gaps and provide recommendations for solutions to usability gaps
•Advocate on behalf of End-Users and ensure their feedback is heard
•Decrease need for redesign in the future or missing things like mobility -> Evergreen

What true solution “statement” or usability “core values” should be required for success?

•SharePoint 2010 brings significant changes for the end-user
◦New work practices and attitudes around E-mail, messaging, and social (professional) networking
◦New collaboration and document sharing practices
◦New work operating system and digital work environment (Think about going green in the future with OCR \ Scanning solutions that are seamlessly integrated with SharePoint 2010)
•SharePoint 2010 End-Users will have an easier time learning new training, remaining productive, and accepting change if the end product is easy to use.
•Ensuring the usability of SharePoint 2010 will involve a process of examination, testing and refining by applying usability methodology.
◦This must include 508 compliance which has been overlooked for years but is now a core requirement for many organizations (especially government)
This all falls under governance, no surprise, but instead of just throwing around the G word, think true “Operational Governance” and a living breathing Governance strategy that aligns with your organization’s roadmap.

Myself and my team and EPC Group constantly discuss how an enterprise SharePoint project touches just about every area of an organization. Usability \ user experience is one that is not always on the forefront of peoples thoughts but it should be