Are your ECM-systems mission critical?


Reinoud Kaasschieter

September 23, 2015


“The availability of mission critical information systems is often tied directly to business performance or revenue. When there is unplanned downtime due to a system crash during primary service hours, the result can have an immense impact on an organization’s financial stability.” (Larry Sheffield)

According to a study by BITKOM, the most common reasons to start an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system are: document management, and document archiving. Case handling, process management and collaboration come next. But whatever your reasons, one day this system will become indispensable to your organization.

What will happen when these systems fail? Can your organization still continue to work as before?

Humble beginnings

Many ECM systems start small, often as department projects. These initial systems contain a small amount of documents for a limited number of users. Like invoices for an ERP system. Or storing mail correspondence for a helpdesk. In many cases these systems expand rapidly. Not because single systems are growing fast. But because other departments are also starting with their own systems. Many organizations have multiple ECM systems in use, all for their specific purposes and organizational units, resulting in an ECM sprawl.

All these small departmental systems will remain under the radar of IT management. In the beginning, documents are still stored somewhere else, e.g. printed out on paper. So when the system fails, there’s no real issue: continue to work with the paper copies…

But as the data, and the organization itself grows, it won’t be possible to fall back on manual processes, or work with such disparate systems which have become critical for their specific business units.

The American ECM users organization AIIM has calculated that two-thirds of all ECM systems are business critical. They have become an essential part of the information infrastructure. Is this also the case in your organization? Often you do not know because you do not know what ECM systems are being used now and what the consequences are when they fail.


To minimize impact on business due to non-availability and/or scalability of multiple, stand-alone ECM systems, consolidating these into one central document management system is necessary, which will have stringent requirements in terms of security, flexibility, stability and extensibility. This often implies purchasing a new platform.

The consequence: documents not only have to be migrated to the new central system, but also all user applications have to be modified.

The advantages:

  • One central ECM system is much more manageable than multiple, distributed systems.
  • Functional and technical system administration can be streamlined.
  • Licensing and service management can become efficient.
  • Availability and scalability can be enlarged because everything is now done in a managed environment.

From a compliance perspective too, there are advantages.

  • Security, user authorizations and document retention (for example, with a Records Management Application) can be centralized.

Security is especially important when your employees share your documents with the outside world. Or they take business documents with file shares, like Dropbox, for instance to work at home or away from office, A modern ECM system allows you to let your users be mobile without issues around information security.

Migration of an ECM environment into the cloud can also be an option, instead of purchasing a new platform. You can work anywhere, anytime with your business documents, in a secure and controlled way, reduce your system administration tasks, and at the same time have a high degree of availability and expandability.

Our Approach

A range of alternatives is available to set up an organization-wide ECM system, and find the one best suited for your business’ needs. Consolidation projects can be labor intensive and costly, with many things to be transformed and migrated. The question is, can all that be done successfully?

Capgemini has delivered many consolidation projects in the field of document management and ECM. Based on this knowledge and experience, we can help you to consolidate your ECM systems step-by-step. The goal is to set up an ECM system that is available, scalable, and secure as would be expected from a business-critical application.

For example, we’re currently investigating how to make an electronic document archive highly available for a government agency, with an up-time of 99.8%.  The system should also be made future proof in order to cater for growth in documents and users. Capgemini brought all suppliers together to create a common strategy to achieve the goals of the project.

What steps do we take to ensure the project’s success?

  • Assess the current ECM strategy
  • Develop the business case

The business case is converted to a project, where our ECM experts will help you with successful implementation. The end result is a modern ECM system that does what it is supposed to do.

Want to discuss more? Follow me on @tweetreinoud and visit the ECM page.

Photo Public Domain by NASA via Wikipedia


This article was written by Reinoud Kaasschieter from CapGemini: Insights & Data Blog and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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