Finding the right Content Services Platform for your organisation.
Updated: Oct 13, 2019
If you're about to get underway procuring a Content Services Platform (CSP), here are some tips that will hopefully help with your direction.
Content or Process focus - which is more important to you?
The market has evolved from pure Document Management (DMS) to Enterprise Content (ECM) and now to Content Services (CSP). This reflects the fact that we're no longer only concerned with Word Docs, PDFs and Tiffs; we're now talking about all file formats - video, CAD, sound recordings, PhotoShop projects, social media and web content and more. And we're not just focussed on where we save them to and how we secure them - we're interested in how they're created and shared, and what information we can get from them to use in our business processes and reporting. In addition, these solutions aren't separated silos like an old DMS used to be, they're integrated into our line of business systems like CRM and Finance and provide a breadth of functionality to all of our departments.
So it's now about content, the services that can be enabled for our internal and external customers, and the platform-like nature of the products.
However, there is still a key decision to be made by your organisation when you look to the market - is file management, records compliance and security your key concern; or is business process, workflow and streamlining your office work more of a requirement. Perhaps both are equally important? Determining this before you begin to procure is fundamental.
Budget and Scale
Gone are the days of huge cost implementations with DMS only realistically available to cash-rich, large-scale organisations; SaaS cloud and on-premise susbscription licencing models and a highly competitive landscape have made these solutions much more accessible to all scales of business. It is still a large investment, not least in time and effort - but provided you keep the focus on bang for your buck and your specific requirements, the cost to implement a market-leading CSP can be surprisingly achievable.
Setting your budget is crucial, but can only be done in conjunction with the next phase - market analysis; and also must be realistic to accommodate your requirements. If you want a fully-featured, powerful CSP with great workflow and integrations, and a quality implementation partner, then you will find the old adage is always true: you will get what you pay for.
It's also vital to have a handle on your relevant internal business costs in the current state - so that you can understand the potential return on investment. Any good solution provider should be able to demonstrate the ROI to you, but only if you can share with them some insight into your existing issues.
Market Analysis and Shortlisting
Being aware of several different potential CSPs and what they each bring to table is highly recommended - it's a good idea to be wary of 'selecting early' and then possibly being led down a path that isn't right for you. Likewise, having an understanding of which solution providers are reliable, responsive and competitive should also be a focus. The best outcome is that you have the right product and a partner to help you deliver it.
A great place to start on the product side is Gartner's 'Peer Insights' page. These are verified reviews from actual users of the solutions, and they score the products on various metrics like ease-of-use, overall functionality and cost-effectiveness.
Once you have reviewed information about solutions and vendors, trim this down to the best few so that you can really focus in on them. Even if you don't have to run a formal process, devising a scoring matrix and running this as an 'RFP-lite' is not a bad idea.
Engaging your users - demonstrations and workshops
This is a very important and often overlooked component when procuring a CSP: your people must be involved, must be onboard and should be able to see how these tools will improve their work-life. Your biggest successes will be in solving issues for your team - it will get them enthused and this will flow on throughout the lifecycle of the implementation and beyond. Assemble a team of champions to run this as a project, and have them present their progress back to the business.
Conversely, keeping your users out of the loop will only foster cynicism and possibly even distrust in what the solution will mean for them. At the minimal end of this scale, people will assume they'll need to 'do things differently' and expect that it will be a chore, or worse: a failure. At the upper end they may believe you're only trying to automate everything and have a goal of reducing head-count. This is a surefire way to create blockers and sabotagers.
When it's time to actually see the solutions 'in action' (usually after shortlisting) run demonstrations and interactive workshops that should clearly show how the system meets your requirements and the supplier can answer all your team's questions. Vendors should be able to show functional areas of the CSP and if at all possible use some of your content (sample documents and processes). If the solution provider is reluctant to do this, it could be a red-flag that the system is cumbersome and difficult to configure; or that they have limited resource capability.
Summary: Ensuring success
Understand your primary focus and key requirements: file control, process management - or both?
Establish your budget and ROI measurements
Analyse the market and shortlist
INVOLVE YOUR USERS!
If you would like to discuss these and other strategies for implementing a CSP at your organisation - please get in touch.