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Top 5 Considerations When Upgrading Your ECM

by Ashley Bennett

Whether you are completing a total replacement of your ECM solution due to an end of life announcement or simply upgrading your existing platform, it may be time to assess the state of your content management and workflow implementation. While most institutions do regular maintenance on their applications, many overlook the fact that business processes and requirements change, and student and employee demands evolve. These larger scale upgrades to your existing software or conversions to new systems can be a great opportunity to explore those potential changes.

Here are just a few considerations to keep in mind during the process:

  1. Pinpoint holes in your current processes – Are you taking advantage of this opportunity to analyze ways to improve your current business processes? Evaluating your filing structures and workflows will require effort, but will have a tremendous long-term impact on your institution. Don’t assume that everything will be the same. People and processes change, technology evolves and new opportunities exist to improve outdated ways of doing things. Be open to potential changes that will allow you to capitalize on these improvements.
  1. Avoid silo deployment– Are there ways to expand your implementation to more departments? Planning for an enterprise-wide deployment of the system will mitigate the chances of a fractured institution, with various systems lacking integration. Having a plan in place for deploying across the enterprise at a reasonable pace will also help to unify your institution and eliminate the risk of excluding any of your departments.
  1. Focus on budgetary planning– Budget and timing may not allow you to do everything you want to at once, so staggering the deployment across multiple budget years is sometimes the best option. Mapping out a 5-year plan with a cost breakdown will help you better understand the most cost-effective deployment options. Additionally, with cloud deployments increasing, institutions are now exploring options outside of the traditional on-prem models.
  1. Listen to your business users– Does your plan fit most of your users’ current and future needs? Don’t forget about including your end users in your planning. Their input will help ease the transition, especially if they are excited about possible improvements to their current processes. Cross-departmental committees are often the most successful at understanding the requirements of the users in your institution across the board.
  1. Don’t Overload IT– What other projects are on IT’s plate? Be realistic about the resources required and the scope of the project. Stay wary of the current projects that your IT department is managing, and plan your enhancements and upgrades accordingly. Cutting corners on training and professional services for cost savings may result in adding too much strain on your IT staff.

Take action early in your planning to take full advantage of this opportunity. This process is not always a walk in the park, but it doesn’t have to be troublesome either. Some planning and evaluation goes a long way in ensuring your transition is as smooth as possible.