Six Steps To ECM Success in the Cloud

Published on the 03/02/2017 | Written by Bob Dunn


At first glance, it may seem a cloud Enterprise Content Management deployment might be much more difficult than a localised one. It doesn’t have to be that way, says Bob Dunn…

The usual benefits of cloud – flexibility, scalability, no hardware and application maintenance and anywhere access for authorised users – makes the architecture particularly relevant for deploying and managing an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platform. As well as removing the need for up-front capital investment, the approach ensures the ECM can scale as the organisation’s requirements change over time.

To achieve the clear business benefits offered by a cloud-based ECM platform, your organisation needs to follow six steps. These are:

  1. Establish clear goals and metrics
    The first step is arguably the most important. The organisation must be clear on exactly why it is deploying an ECM solution, and the business benefits it expects to derive from it. These goals should be documented and shared with all staff. Each goal should then be related to specific processes within the organisation and linked to established KPIs to ensure progress can be measured. Later, these KPIs can be made visible via real-time dashboards and leaders can effectively coach the activities and behaviours that dictate success towards executing the defined overall strategy.
  1. Understand the enterprise
    Next, attention should be given to understanding exactly how the organisation functions. Does it operate using a centralised or decentralised model? Are there any regional or mobile worker needs that may differ from those within head office? Close attention should also be given to existing workflows and how the new cloud-based ECM platform will support them. Proper analysis and planning at this stage will ensure the new platform closely matches real-world requirements.
  1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
    Large-scale change can sometimes result in confusion for staff. Established work patterns and processes are likely to be altered, requiring consultation, training and ongoing support. When it comes to an ECM platform that touches all parts of the organisation, constant communication about the project is vital. Coming from the very top, this communication must clearly explain the goals of the project and the benefits it will deliver to all staff in their particular day-to-day activities.

Senior staff must also understand the wider implications of the project. For example, the company CFO needs to realise that the shift will reduce capital expenditure, but necessitates a stream of operating expenditure. The IT team needs to understand how workflows will change and their role in managing the external cloud platform provider. Also, legal counsel should be aware of service-level agreements, data privacy and protection mechanisms.

  1. Create a Cloud Governance strategy
    Companies need to ensure that any move to a cloud platform doesn’t breach the rules or laws under which their organisation operates. Common concerns include compliance relating to privacy and data handling. In some sectors, it is a requirement that data be housed within Australia rather than in overseas data centres and this could have an impact on the cloud partner that is chosen for the project. Companies also need a framework for making decisions and a process for executing against those decisions quickly. A cloud governance strategy establishes rules on how to set priorities for enhancements or changes to the technology based on the value that change brings to the global business.
  1. Put the right team in place
    As with any project, talent is a huge factor in determining the success of an ECM implementation. Identify the talent you’ll need for key roles such as a dedicated system administrator, project managers, business analysts and developers. Having a flexible team that can objectively operate both inside and outside the organisation can make the difference between a project being delivered successfully on time and on budget…or not.
  1. Define change management
    It is critical to win the support of end-users. Therefore, strong education and coaching programs will be needed on an ongoing basis to build advocacy from the ground-up. Don’t assume, however, that one approach can be used across the company. Cultural differences, languages and regional needs are likely to demand localised education programs. It’s a good idea to seek input from the regions as you prepare your change management plans.

During the past few years, the cloud has become a mainstream option for many businesses. As confidence in the architecture grows, more and more companies are seeking to take efficiency and competitive advantage to the next level. There’s plenty to gain from an ECM cloud deployment and, by following these steps, your company will be well placed to achieve the maximum benefits.


Bob Dunn is the Australia country manager for Hyland Software, creator of the OnBase enterprise content management (ECM) solution. Dunn has been part of the ECM industry for more than 25 years, and has held various positions during his tenure, with a focus on providing business process automation solutions.

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