Implementing an Enterprise Content Management (ECM) system can transform your organization in several beneficial ways. However, without proper planning, strategizing, and expertise, the risk of a long, painful, and ultimately failed deployment is high — leading to additional training, assistance, and cost further down the line. That’s why many organizations make the smart choice to invest in ECM consulting.

Learn more about the benefits and features of ECM systems

But how do you choose the best enterprise content management consultant for your organization and its specific needs? Here are four factors to consider when searching for a successful match.

1. ECM Expertise and Experience

If you were building a house, you wouldn’t hire a doctor to get the job done; you would search for an experienced builder with several successful projects similar to what you envision under their belt. The same thinking applies when searching for an ECM consultant. To offer the best solutions for your organization, a consultant should have domain-specific knowledge, expertise, and experience in your particular industry or use case, including the ability to:

  • Explore and evaluate current ECM systems and processes and decipher the best course of action based on experience and familiarity.
  • Communicate with decision-makers at every level regarding objectives and strategies as they pertain to your specific industry.
  • Offer creative and innovative content solutions that can scale with current and future needs and trends in your industry and organization.
  • Anticipate challenges specific to your industry and exercise patience, persistence, and resilience while problem-solving.
  • Present ECM examples of past projects within your industry delivered using known methodologies.

Any good consulting candidate should have experience implementing ECM systems for your industry — and be able to prove it. Ask questions like:

  • Have their team members also worked in the industry?
  • Does their organization have any industry affiliation?
  • Does the consultant have any other relevant domain-specific expertise that could be beneficial to this relationship?
  • One particularly important aspect is to beware of vendors or consultants who may use your organization to try their hand at implementing an ECM system. The risks are too high for them to use your organization as a training ground - avoid at all costs.

2. Product and Vendor Independence

To deliver a scalable, comprehensive solution, ECM consultants must provide a fully tailored platform that meets objectives at every level without pushing a one-size-fits-all product option that could impose limitations instead of providing flexibility.

That’s where product and vendor independence enter the picture.

Most organizations struggle to standardize their IT systems and have multiple apps, services, and software from different vendors to address their organization’s needs. To implement a functional, modern ECM system, your ECM consultant should have ample experience with a variety of ECM systems and/or Content Services platforms (learn about what is a content services platform here), whether they work for a vendor or independently. Having such a breadth of cross-platform experience provides a solid understanding of the pros and cons of any given solution, and experience of how to apply these to your specific requirements.

An additional benefit of experience across many different systems comes when dealing with silos. Many organizations riding the paperless-office wave have faced a critical challenge with content silos, with information scattered across the business in multiple, isolated repositories. Modern ECM solutions solve this dilemma by using content federation, which connects all systems within an organization to create a user-friendly, comprehensive platform. With content federation, users can access information from any repository as if they were working within a single system. To create this holistic ecosystem, your consultant must be familiar with your systems, their uses, and how they are combined using federation. C— and your consultants with cross-platform experience are able to understand and leverage the specific capabilities within individual systems to create an optimal information management ecosystem within your organization.

Ultimately, the ECM consultant needs to define a roadmap detailing where your organization currently sits, where strategically you want to get to, and which technology pieces can help you get there. This needs to include insight into existing systems but also how the organization feels about moving to the cloud, the use of AI, remote working, and more. By creating a view of the organization’s technology landscape all stakeholders clearly understand the strategic direction, and the tactical approach to getting there.

3. Industry Reputation and Relationships

Before deciding on a consultant, there are a few requirements to review. Such as, practicing due diligence and researching industry reputations and relationships. If colleagues from other organizations have worked with potential consultants in the past, ask them how satisfied they were with their performance.

  • Did the consultant deliver the agreed-upon solution within the established timeline and budget?
  • Do they feel they have a solid client-consultant relationship?
  • What kind of support did the consultant offer, and are they still supporting them now that the ECM system is up and running?
  • Did they take the time to train the staff or empower leaders to train?
  • Can they depend on the consultant to offer help and training during changes and upgrades?

It’s also essential to find out if the ECM consultant, whether working independently or as a representative of a larger organization, has the capacity and financial stability to offer the appropriate level of support your organization needs to achieve its goals.

Find out how active ECM consulting is in your industry and the document management field. Do they have a strong presence at industry conferences and online? Have they won any industry awards? Search online for client testimonials via reputable peer review sites, and see if they’re listed and reviewed on industry forums.

Configuring an ECM system is a complex task that requires experienced consultants who are familiar with your industry. It is crucial to partner with someone who can practice what they preach — and prove it.

4. Enterprise Content Management Consultant’s Questions

While the ECM consultant you choose must be right for your business, you also need to be a good match for them. To build a solid long-term relationship, the right consultant should fully understand the scope of your organization’s vision and current circumstances to offer the strategy that best suits your needs. That’s why it’s important to note whether the consultant is asking you crucial questions needed to establish a winning partnership.

During the screening process to find an ECM consultant, both parties should communicate and ask questions to determine if this is a relationship worth pursuing. A candidate should inquire about your staff and leadership, especially about who they will have access to while implementing the system, who they will need to train, and who will be managing the system internally.

Warning signs should flash if an ECM consultant is more interested in pushing a product than:

  • finding out whether your decision-makers objectives are aligned
  • understanding the present challenges
  • inquiring about the company’s long-term goals, strategic vision, IT strategy, overall architectural principles, and investment priorities
  • figuring out if the company will be open for business in six months

Any potential ECM consultant should capture and grasp the entire scope of the project — from a general perspective to the minute details — before discussing service level agreements and initial and ongoing costs. They can only do this by asking questions, researching, and communicating.

Choosing the right ECM consultant boils down to finding a person or team you can work well with and create a supportive, mutually beneficial relationship. During the evaluation process, you should exercise due diligence, research, listen, ask questions, and communicate, communicate, communicate.

Implementing an ECM system is a significant investment that can transform your organization if executed correctly with your particular business and industry in mind. Taking the proper steps to ensure you choose the right consultant for your organization is time well spent today that will deliver benefits for the long term.

Please visit the Nuxeo partners page, to discover the best ECM consulting for Nuxeo