The decision to invest in content management sometimes leads customers to a seemingly either/or decision. Choose a point product, or invest in an enterprise content management (ECM) platform? In my opinion, this is not a trade off that Energy customers need to make. By choosing a “verticalized” solution with industry-specific workflows and integrations, customers can have the best of both worlds.
These are some of the aspects I think are critical when considering so-called “point products.” Especially if you’re building a capital asset subject to regulatory compliance, or you face inspections, you’re better off having rich content management capabilities than relying on a simple product that just gets you through the initial process. While these key capabilities are often missing from individual point products, they can be part of a leading industry solution:
- True records management functionality will ensure records are not deleted and are proven to exist for the timetables required by regulations or contracts. The ability to purge documents that are out of date or no longer accurate is also important.
- Audit trails – for compliance sake, you want the ability to know what was done, by whom, and when. But also for ongoing process improvements, a supervisor’s review of logs and authorization sign-offs can indicate where things may be inefficient or incorrect, and can improve processes moving forward.
- Access control – security and compliance both require controlling the right level of access to the right people. This control should be granular, to allow for denying or allowing access based on content types or groups of documents, for example.
- Content storage for a broad variety of content types is often overlooked in some point products, because they grew from a single document type system, such as engineering documents, while a robust platform can readily handle all types.
And these are some of the value-adds I believe an Energy industry solution built on an industry-leading ECM platform can bring to your implementation:
- Time to deployment is accelerated because you’re not recreating the wheel and developing workflows from scratch. Configuration is the focus, not customization.
- Industry standard workflows make sure the right change management processes are built around common requirements, whether creating a transmittal, signing off on a design review, or handing over content to somebody as part of handover process.
- Knowledge of content types specific to the industry is already built in, to support not only standard Office documents, but also engineering drawings, design notes, reports, and certification data from the construction phase, for example.
- Document organization is already figured out, so to speak, for common industry-specific tasks you might perform. It saves time knowing how to organize documents and what metadata to add to documents to find, track and pull them quickly for Transmittals.
- Vertical solutions often use APIs or exports in common formats so content can be consumed by other solutions typical in the industry, such as project management, maintenance management, and ERP systems.
- Expertise often comes along with the technology, whether consultants who have completed implementations or strategists who can advise how best to go about the changes needed.
Combining the critical functionality for content management mentioned above with the richness of industry knowledge means there’s nothing you have to give up. In fact, if you choose an enterprise-class industry solution based upon a robust content management platform, you have the best of everything. You can then use the same system across projects for scale, consistency, and ease of use. And you can share dashboards that look at certain sets of documents or entire projects to have a closer understanding of true project status.
So before you feel you have to make a tough call between a point product versus a platform, think about choosing a vertical solution that has E) all of the above.