During Empower 2014, the talk of the town was doing things the right way from the very beginning. While many of the presenters conceded that the planning stages of implementation can be challenging, they unanimously agreed that the dedication of time and effort paid off in the long run.

As Dr. Farid Amin, Technical Solutions Architect of Acenden Limited, noted, “The design element is the most important, because if you have to go back and amend it, you have a serious problem.” Too many things can go wrong without careful and thoughtful planning around your organization’s potential growth and future use cases.

Here are three tips for planning a successful—and long-lasting—ECM implementation.

1. Start at the End

Mark Gilbert - ECM Analyst at Gartner

Mark Gilbert – Research VP, Gartner

While starting with a solid plan is excellent preparation for implementation, the plan itself doesn’t have to start at the beginning. In fact, clearly defining your end goal upfront is generally the most effective approach. “The more you document where you want to go, the faster you’ll get there,” said Mark Gilbert, Research Vice President at Gartner.

For example, Franklin County started with its desired result and then worked backward to map out how an automated process would get there. Clearly defining the project goals enabled the county to organize its repository folder structure, configure entry access rights and set up workflows in the most logical manner for what it was trying to achieve.

“We probably spent four to six months in the planning phase, but getting those personnel files into Laserfiche properly has had an enormous payback for us,” says John Aguirre, Director of HR at Franklin County.

2. “Whiteboard” Every Process You Want to Automate

John Barragan, COO, Girard Securities

John Barragan, COO, Girard Securities

John Barragan, COO of Girard Securities, Inc., said during Empower 2014 that his team took three to four days to whiteboard each of the company’s processes before the firm’s IT department even had a chance to touch the new ECM software. Doing this kind of legwork was helpful for several reasons:

  1. It allowed Girard to audit its processes and to take out any unnecessary steps, streamlining operations.
  2. With the entire team in the room, everyone was able to see how every role contributed to each process.
  3. Everyone involved had a chance to provide input on how to make the process better.
  4. When it came time to implement, Girard’s IT department knew exactly how to build the approved workflows for each of the processes.

WorkflowStart diagramming your organization’s processes today with this simple overview: How to Diagram a Business Process

3. Understand the End User

There’s nothing wrong with configuring a system in the way that you would use it—except when you’re not the one who’ll be using it. During the implementation planning stage, it’s important to get the end users involved since they really are the experts on the process. They’ll be able to tell you what makes sense and what doesn’t.

“You can have the best software in the world, but if the end user isn’t comfortable with it, they won’t use it,” said Maureen Reynolds, Deputy County Clerk, Tompkins County, NY.

Check out these tips for ECM implementation best practices.

Before you implement an Enterprise Content Management solution, be sure that you have selected the right one that aligns with the needs of your organization. Get your free copy of “Document Management: The Buyer’s Handbook” and get started today! 

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