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AIIM Study Released: From Plans to Projects: How ECM Technologies Get Implemented

    Online News published in DMReview.com
August 26, 2005

AIIM recently announced the findings of their new ECM Implementation Trends industry study entitled, "From Plans to Projects: How ECM Technologies Get Implemented." The study examines how over 400 different organizations make decisions about implementing enterprise content management (ECM) technologies.

"The core components in evaluating the return on investment (ROI) of an ECM implementation have shifted. In the early stages of the document and imaging industry, labor savings and capital expense reductions were the typical factors used to justify a document solution. This is perhaps not terribly surprising given that end users at the time also likely perceived document solutions as a point solution within a particular department," states AIIM President John F. Mancini. "As the realization has spread that ECM solutions are really part of the overall IT infrastructure, the importance of productivity and risk reduction benefits has grown."

Key Survey Findings

ECM technologies are viewed as a core element in the overall IT infrastructure, and are clearly perceived as more than simply records management.
82% of end users see ECM solutions as a core element in their IT infrastructure (i.e., "a utility service that supports multiple applications") as opposed to a point solution to a particular problem (18%).

Overall, the ROI experience of end users with regards to ECM implementations is strikingly positive.
Given the challenges that many end users have experienced in justifying ERP or CRM implementations, it is important to note that 72% of end users believe that the ROI of their ECM implementations has met or exceeded expectations.

The awareness of the importance of managing documents is on the rise within organizations.
77% of end users believe that effective management of documents is more important now than two years ago. This rising importance is also reflected in the number of conversations within organizations relative to the value of ECM investments. Nearly one-third characterize such conversations as "always" or "frequent" over the past 12 months.

Users are aware of the complexity within their organizations relative to managing information, especially within large organizations, and the corresponding need to correct this situation.
34% of end users at large organizations believe that there are more than 25 discrete information repositories in their organization. If you subtract from the sample those who have "no idea" how many information repositories exist in their organization, the percentage reporting more than 25 repositories rises to nearly 46%. 73% of end users have a business need to unify access to and management of these disparate repositories.

Return on investment is clearly an important criteria for vendor selection, and becomes more important as the size of the organization increases.
63% of end users see return on investment as an important criteria for vendor selection. 44% of those who measure ROI do so within 12 months of deployment.

In midsize and large organizations IT executives have clearly moved to center stage in the ECM decision-making process.
When asked, who is the most critical executive in making purchase decisions on ECM solutions, 51% of midsize organizations and 56% of large organizations answer the "CIO or head of the IT department." As one would expect, within small organizations the president or CEO (or in some cases the CFO) are much more important in the ECM decision-making process than they are within larger organizations.

Anticipated spending levels clearly reflect the growing segmentation in the market between solutions that are appropriate to large organizations and those designed for midsize organizations.
Within large organizations, the emphasis is increasingly on rationalizing and integrating core information management processes. 52% of end users from large organizations who report spending intentions indicate that they will spend over $300,000 on ECM solutions over the next 12 months. Within midsize organizations, the emphasis is often on document-enabling existing vertical business applications. While there are significant numbers of midsize end users who anticipate spending more than $300,000 (14%), the "sweet spot" for suppliers targeting the midsize market appears to be solutions in the $50,000-$300,000 range (43% of midsize users).

The pitfalls that users experience in procuring an ECM solution point to the need to greater education about how to effectively identify internal requirements.
The more vocal problems related to poor implementations usually focus on those that fail because: 1) they were budgeted improperly; 2) there was a mismatch between project vision and core business objectives; or 3) there was a lack of management support for the initiative. For most end users, these are not the core challenges. The core challenges are: 1) defining core requirements; 2) better education about potential solutions; and 3) maintaining internal alignment and coordination.

There is clearly a gap in most organizations in understanding ECM.
On the plus side, 91% of end users agree with the statement "the business benefits of ECM solutions are clear to me." That's the good news. The challenge is that the awareness of ECM solutions and the awareness of the term itself are still in the early stages. The ECM industry is in a stage of development that is somewhat similar to the early stages of the evolution of the ERP industry. 70% of end users disagree with the statement "in my organization people generally have a good understanding of what the term ECM means." Clearly there is much work that needs to be done around educating organizations abut the business benefits of ECM.

For more information, visit www.aiim.org.

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For more information on related topics visit the following related portals...
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This piece has been brought to you by the DM Review Editorial staff.

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