HCL Connections Review

I use it to save time answering emails by storing content. I like the search capability as well.


Valuable Features

The ability to have all business owners own, author, and manage content and communications is very valuable. I can use Connections and eliminate use of other software/tools, and it greatly reduces my need for IT support for simple requests. If talking about specific capabilities that make this possible, the integration of email and Connect is a huge time saver. With that, the ability to manage your community/email membership saves time. I don’t need to go to some IT staff or process to update community/email membership.

I have other business users in Connections, managing their information and communicating to 11,000 employees dispersed across the United States. I might have taken 30 minutes to train them and get them started. And that 30 minutes has allowed them to own their information, communicate it to all, receive input from all, and respond to that input. Because I spend 30 minutes training someone, I’ve gotten three years where I didn’t have to manage that information for them. Or someone else or some process didn’t have to manage that information.

I sell Connections internally by saying I can do 10 minutes of work in Connect and save an hour in email. I haven’t done a study to prove this, but I bet if I did, I’d save an hour of email for only five minutes of work in Connections, not 10. I use Connect as my knowledge base for employees. Specifically, I use the wiki capability in Connections often. I store my knowledge there.

Here are three examples of wiki pages. The first screenshot was a wiki set up by another employee who is the subject matter expert for the topic. She’s got files and videos stored in Connections, and then she delivers all the info via a wiki. The other two example are mine, and they also show the comment/interactive capabilities.

If I get 100 emails throughout the course of a year, I don’t have to take 5-10 minutes to answer 100 emails. I have that answer, already stored in Connections. The search capability in Connect is great and can be very specific. But even if a user can’t find something, the 30-second email to get someone to that info saves me a lot of time, rather than the 5-10 minutes it would take me to write that same email over and over.

Basically, Connections saves me time. Lots of it.

Improvements to My Organization

Prior to our use of IBM Connections, any internal web info had to go through a help desk process. It was time consuming. And the business owner of that info had no control or say of how that info was displayed or organized.

Room for Improvement

I understand this is about IBM making money. But I want all the features/capabilities in the base package. For example, one thing I don’t have is the IBM Connections full-documentation solution (FileNet). If I did, I could get rid of our use of SharePoint. Or at least greatly reduce it.

Use of Solution

I have used it for three years.

Deployment Issues

This is not my area of expertise, but from what I see, we have absolutely not encountered any deployment, stability or scalability issues. I work for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, specifically one agency of USDA called the Natural Resources Conservation Service. There are 15-20 other agencies using this product. The ability for USDA to use this as a whole and communicate between agencies has been good, along with the ability for each agency to use it to communicate within its own agency.

Customer Service and Technical Support

Technical support is excellent. I’m sure this isn’t the norm, but because I am assuming that USDA is a large customer, we get a business and IT customer rep that checks with us on a regular basis.

Previous Solutions

Our use of IBM Connections is a case of, it’s better to be lucky than good. I do not believe we did any requirement-gathering from the business end or evaluation of other IT products.

Implementation Team

This is not my area of expertise, but we have an in-house team that did the implementation. Technically, I believe some of that in-house team are contractors, and some are employees.

ROI

I am not involved with the ROI aspect either, although I have some awareness of it. My only advice is to negotiate hard for what you want. Know all the capabilities of the product, and sacrifice what you don’t need for what you do. For example, Connections comes with a chat service. We have that and I assume pay for it. But we really don’t need it, as we have Skype. What I really could use is the more comprehensive docs capabilities.

Other Advice

Sell the time-saving aspect of this to any leadership. Less email. Way less email. Less IT help desk support needed. A little use of Connections in its place.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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