Busted – you need ECM…so now what?

The jury is in. You’re guilty of needing enterprise content management (ECM) software in some capacity. So now what?

Well, it may seem obvious, but you can’t just buy something and hope it works. To avoid this, it’s important to get your goals in line, then, create requirements. By doing so, any major IT project, including ECM software, will be much more successful.

Before you dive into specifics, here are two questions that will help you create overall goals for the project: 

  • What are the pains you are trying to alleviate? (Think too much paper, too many disparate systems, a plethora of manual processes, the inability to easily locate information, unsophisticated retention practices, etc.).
  • What will a successful ECM project look like? (Think reduced costs, compliance with specific regulations, increased processing times, etc.).

Once you’ve done this, it’s time to really get into the nitty-gritty of the requirements. From my experience, it’s best to utilize proven tools that assess three main things: a solution, a vendor and the return on investment you will reap from the eventual implementation.

One of the best tools available is a request for proposal (RFP) or request for information (RFI). An RFP/RFI process allows you to solicit information from prospective vendors to assist in your decision making process. The results you receive back allow you to wean out those solutions and corresponding vendors that cannot help you reach your goal, and focus on those that can.

Now you need to “do your time,” AKA craft the RFP. When it comes to ECM, a multi-department system that’s also integrated with other products, the RFP is no small task. You want to make sure you’re receiving all the right information back from respondents. Ask questions that pertain to what really matters: what you are truly hoping to accomplish with the solution. Expressing the true pain points of an existing situation, along with future wants and needs, will help ensure a response that provides a clear picture of which solution is right for you.

Not sure where to get started? Not to worry. In my next post, I’ll share tips for writing killer RFPs for enterprise content management software, and will even include a sample RFP. In the meantime, I’d be interested to hear your feedback on the process. Have you been through an RFP for ECM and can share a pointer? About to start the process and have a question? Use the comment feature to get the discussion going!

Corri North

If you want to find a good software product, you first must have good requirements for what you’re looking for. Why? Just ask Corri North, team lead of proposal services... read more about: Corri North