Saturday, March 27, 2010

Why Financial Services and ECM is a Challenge

Most Financial Services companies large and small have really screwed up the ECM model. Years ago when they purchased Documentum, IT folks looked at the technology and installed the “docbase” server with HA and DR, and that was it. They are heavily into databases and the interrelationships of client IDs and Customer IDs, products and services, etc. IT looked around at the time and saw programmers, DBAs, and web tech guys and thought we’ll build our own frontends to Documentum, our permissions and rules for metadata are too complex, too fancy for the WDK. This was partly true as EMC Professional and Product Services never caught up to the specific requirements and functional needs of the finance industry as they did with life sciences.

Typical scenario at a Financial Company

The client applications director has been somewhat satisfied for the past four years with the way IT has maintained custom web applications integrating with Documentum on the back end. The director is getting more heat from above to look at cheaper, OOTB Documentum solutions. The IT department development (even outsourced to India) is getting too expensive. IT has been planning and executing an upgrade for the past year and a half. They are still at 5.3 (not supported) for the repository and are upgrading the website DFCs to 6.0. Why not 6.5? Because at the time of planning 6.0 was just coming out and the client development started. This is way too expensive and lethargic, but what are the alternatives?

BSAs with their head in the sand

The Business Systems Analyst Manager, with his MBA says we need to think about the big picture, but deal with the low hanging fruit now. In other words, there’s no bridge in communication between operations and IT. This is where a Deloitte is usually helpful in terms of getting the too sides to agree on long-term goals. I know consulting firms can be devastating, but in this case, all the MBAs need to get together and show off their power points. It’s not about just fixing one issue then the next. It’s about getting the CIO to wake up and figure out ECM should be handled like it’s ERP. There is usually a disconnect between the Client App Business Ops vision and the IT technical vision. This will not get fixed at the director level, as much as the C’s would like it.

IT is RESTful with their plans

Historically, the IT Internet/Extranet group has run the show. Choosing how to architect the ECM solution as a by product of their database and web application server architecture plans. Just figure out the storage of content and keep it forever. Here’s the argument: we already have custom applications for Documentum that work. All they care about is the “harvesting and production” side of content. They have no clue what the business is actually doing. How do we get IT to feel the pain of the business? A strong Client app director who cares about business process and content management would help. Get the IT managers out of the web services cloud and either do something enterprise wide with CMIS and other integrations or work with the OOTB products.

EMC Professional Services Where Are You?

The problem with EMC Documentum professional services is that it is not engaged fully during the pre sales activities of the sales engineers who are building POCs and demoing new software solutions. If they are they’re spread too thin and are not effective enough. They can’t keep up with actual work let alone consult on goals and vision. Most companies form their opinions on the can do all sales guys. The client is overwhelmed with products not solutions. They see scanning solutions, but not high end UIs which solve the complex financial relationship issues. A WDK or Taskspace form is a child next to the maturity of what IT has created for their highly customized UIs. EMC, what’s the solution here?

Sample Financial Solution Patterns

There are many solution patterns within the financial applications that EMC could solve with a product.

  1. Center a User Interface around Client and Customer Ids. The pre vs. post sales information gathering activities.
  2. Deal with the historical changes in attributes and their values. Financial services databases are always current and don't necessarily handle change management in content and metadata very well.
  3. Like the case management solution, figure out the foundational use cases of financial services (beyond scanning and OCR) and build product and solutions from them.

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