What makes a successful ECM project?
In our implementation series of blog posts we wanted to share with you some of the lessons we have learnt delivering ECM projects and projects that are based on ECM platforms. In this post we thought we would post one of the hardest questions an ECM project team can be asked “What makes a successful ECM project?”
Let’s assume that you’ve chosen the right product, now you need a partner. The selection process for the partner should be as rigorous as for the product itself. You need to find a partner that you can trust and one that is prepared to challenge your preconceptions and bring new ideas to you. Your partner should be seen also as someone who is going to be with you not just until go-live but beyond that to make sure you can continue to maximise your investment. You should think of your partner as an extension of your own team and look for these characteristics in them but also in you.
Look for cultural alignment as well as a partner who can simply claim to be able to ‘get the job done’. In a complex, long-term project like ECM, it’s highly likely that you’ll need to be able to have open, frank discussions.
With a partner and product selected, sit together and articulate what success looks like, from all sides. Our teams will often do this according to key roles; user, process, technical, governance, compliance etc. Your teams should focus on a simple exercise: “We know the project has been successful when…”. With the definitions agreed, get them up on a wall so that the team is always looking at success to keep them on track.
Gather the A-Team
It’s hard to define success without the right people in the room, so from initiation to support gather the best people you can. You should look to get the right blend from your partner, internal staff, contractor and secondments. There are a couple of absolutely critical roles – getting these wrong can spell disaster:
- ECM Project Manager. There is a reason we recruit PMs who have done ECM projects before; without the right blend of skills and experience, ECM projects suffer. Each successful project that we have been involved in has had an experienced ECM Project Manager on both our side and the client’s.
- Solution Lead. This is a role your partner will deliver for you, the more experienced they are the better the outcome as options are more thoroughly analysed, impacts can be more easily explained to the project team and the success of the system is assured.
- Change Lead. A role that should be filled by the client, this is critical to gaining high acceptance and engagement levels during and post project implementation. They will often be a conduit between the project and business-as-usual activities.
Pragmatism first, last and always
It is easy to be seduced by the possibilities your new ECM solution offers you. While we love to explore the most exciting aspects of solutions we would rather focus on what the organisation can achieve, what it is culturally and financially ready for and build from there. ECM doesn’t end when the project goes live… you will have plenty of opportunity to improve it.
Design your ECM Programme
The project is often stage 1 of your ECM implementation. When you deliver your project you must have a programme that defines the plan for developments, and don’t forget that you will have upgrades and new versions of software to look to also. Make sure these are in your programme and you have budgeted for them.
When we start our projects we also ask you to consider what happens when the project is completed – but that’s a topic for another day. For now, why not share your comments and tips on successful ECM projects on our LinkedIn page or our Twitter feed?