Sunday, January 27, 2013

ECM: Point vs. Enterprise Solution


The industry is healthcare (so lower budget by default for IT projects). The project is a document control system which needs to manage the publishing, approvals, security, and readership of policies and procedures.


The team has seen other point solutions which are exactly what they want. In their world, these solutions are perfect, however in the larger world of trying to make connections between the morass of information within the entire hospital system, the ECM solutions needs to be used, or at least integrated.

Failure in the Past

Program and port folio management was not part of the ECM initial rollout. There was no information architecture from a content management perspective. The informatics and integration architects have no idea what the implications of using the correct metadata for index/search means at the enterprise level. They know what to so with patient account data and paper forms and clinical notes, but when comes to weaving this information together, not so much.

Finding a solution

So put aside the lack of PMO and let's focus on how to blend the desired point solution with ECM. Paper is still used for reviews and approvals of the SOPs. The groups responsible for writing the procedures are not very familiar with metadata, they really scratch the surface with MS Office products. Trying to demo an ECM workflow with versioning, convert to PDF, and electronic signatures did not go over well. The group needed to drive with a permit and an instructor first.


  • Use ECM workflow solution, dump files in the existing repository as a pilot and keep revision and approval outside the system.
  • Scan existing SOPs into the system and just using the scans as for reader acknowledgement and approval.
  • Use Sharepoint as a bridge between MS Office and the existing ECM solution. The problem with this is that Sharepoint could easily take over the whole process.
  • Build on the status quo of the paper process, but use MS Office for revisions, Acrobat for signatures, email for workflow and folders for storage and presentation to the readers.
  • Pilot the point solution and integrate it with ECM at the reader acknowledgement and presentation stages.

Politics and Operations

Who has the money? Without PMO, the money for projects magically appears. So, the doc control group seems to think they have the money for the point solution. Politically, does IT dictate the ECM solution as it has implemented it with the assumption that there would be ROI only with penetration and scale.


  • Level set the group's understanding of the publishing tools, the revision and approval process, common metadata (ie Dublin Core), records retention, complying with the rules (HIPAA, CAP), etc. 
  • Find bridges between the old way and the new way of doing things, like using MS Word for revisions, isolating certain workflow steps like approvals and using a point solution for it, or using Acrobat for electronic signatures. 
  • Push for using the ECM solution as the metadata and content layer which will at least assure that the "big data" guys will be able to find the content and try to use it in their big data cubes. 

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