ECM – Don’t need developers anymore

There was a small document management team with a couple of developers and an administrator. They had a patchy old document management system built on a legacy version of a popular ECM product. Only a handful of business users used the system and very few liked it. The majority had complaints about the stability of the system, features, and on top of that the attitude of the team.

The business users were getting increasingly restless. Their pain points were huge. The number of documents they have to handle physically was only increasing. Most of the time they didn’t quite know where to find the right information from. The IT team was forced to explore options to put in place a robust ECM infrastructure that could potentially meet the demands of this mammoth organization. The IT director brought in a new program manager with a vast amount of experience in ECM in general and in the chosen product stack in particular. The new program manager successfully brought in a new ECM infrastructure built on the latest and greatest technologies within a short span of one year. He put together an enterprise-wide ECM vision and a roadmap for the next five years. The business groups were taken into confidence and things looked quite rosy.

The journey however was not quite easy. The biggest hurdle came not from the business, higher management, or external vendors. It came from within. The team he inherited, particularly the developers, had its own reservations about everything that the new program manager did. They threw spanners at every new initiative, intimidated the external vendors, and played all political games possible.

Quite unfortunately for the organization, there was a management change at the top. The developers managed to convince the new Director that whatever ECM needs of the organization can be met by the two of them. Frustrated, the program manager put in his papers. Nothing moved in the organization from that point onwards. The business users ditched the ECM bandwagon and looked for point solutions to solve their pain points. The entire ECM vision and implementation was sabotaged by a couple of developers.

This is not an imaginary story. It happened in one of the largest oil companies in the middle-east and that too very recently.

At the fulcrum of this issue lie the developer’s concerns regarding their job security. But the bigger problem is the complete lack of understanding by the senior IT management. Their inability to understand the business priorities and eagerness to cut a few thousand dollars cost the organization an opportunity to improve its effectiveness.

In the ECM world, developers are slowly becoming an endangered species. The products and platforms are evolving to a state where hard-core development and coding are fast disappearing. The new paradigm calls for configuration, modelling, and quick scripting instead of long-winded development tasks. The key to ECM implementation will be proper and thorough business analysis, process engineering, and quick rollouts. It is essential for developers to understand the changing landscape and recalibrate themselves to stay relevant in the ECM domain.

And for organizations it is time to get rid of the ECM developers who refuse to reinvent themselves.



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