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    You take a deep sigh of relief: You've flipped the switch on your new enterprise content management (ECM) system, and it's finally working.

    The users have been trained. The workflows have been built. The document types have been identified. Records management has been set up. Best of all, employees are actually beginning to use the system.

    You're finished, right? Not quite.

    As tempting as it is to say “done” and move on to other projects, there are a number of steps you should take to improve user adoption and the installation of the new system on an ongoing basis. I have visited many failed ECM systems. I can say that 99% of the time, it's not the software, system, or vendor who is at fault. Inertia and inattention to the system post-rollout will eventually undermine even the best ECM implementations.

    The good news? There are simple tactics you can adopt that will improve user adoption and keep your system rolling.

    The below 10 tips are meant to be generally applied and may change somewhat, depending on your unique installation. They are not in order of importance, as each one is equally important.

    1. Lunch and Learn Sessions

    It's important to begin some type of recurring training for users. These kinds of sessions can be focused on things that are not intuitively obvious to the user and can include peer-supplied tips on how to work better with the system. Make sure to include time for questions and answers in these training exercises. If you don't have the answer right away, always follow up in a timely fashion. Remember, you should start these learning sessions immediately!

    2. Practice Active User Support, Not Reactive

    You can begin by polling users about their potential problems. Many times, they won't voluntarily seek out help or ask questions to their information technology (IT) department. Think about establishing a "superuser," a person who is business-oriented, to work with users directly or to help escalate issues to the proper resources. It's also equally important to poll users about what really works well. You shouldn't shy away from communicating the things that are really working either through lunch and learn sessions or your ongoing change management communications.

    3. Increase User Adoption

    You can do this in three ways: First, audit user logons post-implementation. You may be (unpleasantly) surprised to see that some (or many) are not logging into the system, or they may log in but are not actually using it. Instead of playing the blame game, work with these employees to address issues and to get them to a certain level of comfort with the system. Then, you can make corrective actions to help increase adoption across the company. You may see a global trend that applies to a certain department or the company as a whole, revealing a bigger problem that may be developing.

    4. Address Any Security/Permission Issues Immediately

    This is critical, so don't ignore it. There is no quicker deterrent to using a new ECM system than not being able to open a file in your own department or not being able to open a file hyperlink sent to you. This indicates a security/permissions issue and must be corrected immediately.

    5. Monitor and Incorporate New Federal or State Legislation

    Someone has to be responsible for ensuring that the system is kept updated when new laws and legislation affect it. For example, personally identifiable information (PII) regulations will affect where information is stored and who can access that information.

    6. Keep on Top of System Updates

    If updates are “automatically” incorporated (as in a cloud system), make sure you understand new features and functions and communicate those back to the users via your change management communications and/or lunch and learn sessions.

    7. Record and Monitor User Issues and Requested Enhancements

    Users will quickly drop the new system and revert to old solutions or new workarounds if their issues are not addressed in a timely fashion.

    8. Don't Stop Communicating

    Post-implementation is perhaps the most important phase for your ECM project. This is where the system will either take off and be successful or slowly spiral down to become shelf-ware. Now is not the time to stop communicating with users about the new system.

    9. Keep Your Product Manager Permanently

    This person should be a business-oriented superuser who is given additional training and could also be considered a product evangelist. This person can be the "first responder" to triage the issues or move it on to IT. It's important to track issues for the first year, so you understand where problems lie and where trends emerge. This could be a company-wide position or replicated in each department, depending on the size of your organization.

    10. Keep the Executive Committee and Key Stakeholders Informed

    It's important to consistently report on the system performance, issues, and remediations. Do this on an as-needed basis, but, at least, once a quarter for the first year. If there are user adoption issues, suggest how to resolve the issue, which may require additional resources (time and/or dollars).

    An ECM system is never “done.” It's an ongoing process that will need constant attention throughout its life cycle. It is not just about adding/deleting users but adding document types, new metadata, updating the retention schedule, and, most important of all, listening to, and helping, your users.

    Never forget that enhancing user productivity is the goal for the ECM system. Even the “best” system will fail if users don't use the system.

    Bud Porter-Roth has over 20 years of experience as an enterprise content management (ECM) consultant, with a focus on cloud collaboration, electronic document management, records management, and paper document projects. He is also the author of Request for Proposal: A Guide for Effective RFP Development. Follow him on Twitter @BudPR or contact him at info@erms.com.
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