Enterprise content management (ECM) systems that capture and convert physical data into electronic records have been shown to offer organisations the opportunity to improve processes, increase efficiencies and reduce staff costs.
However, the evidence from PA’s work with directorates in the Danish public sector has shown that the anticipated benefits of ECM technology investment are not always fully realised. The root cause of this failure is that the implementation of ECM systems tends to be seen as simply a change in technology rather than focusing on the wider business needs and the process changes that are required to realise ECM’s full benefits. There are three key reasons why this happens.
Employees are typically left to get to grips with the new technology with limited support
As recent PA research has found, 65% of Danish public sector organisations invest less in the implementation part of the project than in other activities related to the project. This means employees do not receive the help they need to use the technology. As a result, they then do not use the ECM system as efficiently as they could and tend to develop their own workarounds, for example storing documents on their own drives rather than uploading to the ECM system. This then introduces duplication and leads to poor data quality.
The new IT does not support the current systems
It is essential to undertake a business process management review to understand how existing processes will be affected by the ECM systems. This review can then enable the organisation to align their processes.
Governance is not embedded into the operation of the system when it becomes business as usual
Typically organisations invest in project governance for the implementation stage. However, once the implementation is complete governance is not then always embedded in the business. To achieve the greatest return from ECM systems organisations need to move away from a short sighted focus on the implementation project to ensuring they have the necessary processes in place support continuous improvements in efficiency.
These three actions need to be taken at the same time as using mobility platforms to build on the base ECM systems and introduce even greater efficiencies. To increase productivity, public sector employees need access to mobile devices such as smart phones and tablets that are now part of the modern workplace.
International ECM systems have facilities for mobile platforms. To enable productivity gains from implementing these facilities, Directorates need to integrate them into existing systems and processes; secure the support of employees; and put the right governance in place.
The opportunity to increase productivity through ECM systems is significant. Directorates that have put these actions in place, and increased their employee education and support, aligned their processes, embedded governance in business as usual and exploited the potential of mobile platforms have typically been able to realise benefits of up to 15%.