IBM ECM Review

It helped standardize content ingestion across different business units.

What is most valuable?

It's actually helped us standardize our content ingestion piece. We receive anywhere from 10,000 to 12,000 documents a day. It's helped us standardize that process across six different business units. We've seen a reduction of error rates. We've seen much easier training on the new platform.

We haven't implemented the Case Manager piece yet, but we feel that's going to give us some tremendous benefits in re-engineering business processes, and making the system work more like the business processes.

The usability from our standpoint has been very, very good. With the new version of Datacap that we're on now, what had took nine months to train somebody, now takes just a couple weeks. Datacap is pretty intuitive, the way we have it set up. People are productive within the first day or two that they're there on site.

How has it helped my organization?

It provides a very simplified process. It's a lot more flexible than the system we had before. It allows us, again, to create those business processes on the platforms that more closely represent the actual business processes. It's got a lot of capabilities to be extended. We've glued into our infrastructure. Our ecosystem can talk to many other systems. A lot of things that had been manual in the past are now automated.

We are not yet considering employing IBM on cloud, hybrid or box solutions.

We haven't yet leveraged any new analytics or content management services. Because I went to a recent World of Watson conference, my eyes were opened to a whole lot of content analytics that we wanted to do as soon as I got back.

There are probably a lot of operational efficiencies, as I’ve mentioned. I think it's going to make us more acquisition ready. We'll be able to hide a lot of complexity as we acquire new systems. We can glue them into the ECM platform very, very easily; keep a very standardized process across business units. That'll help us acquire companies much more rapidly and, more importantly, absorb them into Western and Southern.

We have plans to eventually include mobile as well, in a couple of different ways: our interaction with our end customers, our policyholders, our contract holders, probably some exchange of information with agents. I don't know, yet, how we're going to fully roll that out.

We've had Datacap in place about eighteen months. It's been very successful in the business unit that's using that. We're still working on the Case Manager piece. The first workflow should go live after the first of the year. We expect a very similar experience with our customers there.

What needs improvement?

I haven't really found anything that I would like to see improved. They're continuing to improve it; things such as improved optical character recognition, hand writing recognition. I think as they continue to tweak those engines on the Datacap side, that'll get better. I’m looking for more improvement in that, and that’s mostly because the environment itself is very difficult. A hand-written form is extremely difficult to interpret. Sometimes, it's even difficult for humans to interpret it. I think we get about 80-90% readability for hand-written numbers, and 30-40% for hand-written letters. That's the nature of the OCR business. I’m looking for them to improve that, if they can.

It didn't implement as easy as we had hoped. We had some partner issues. Ease of implementation would be really great and make it perfect.

For how long have I used the solution?

Data Capture has been implemented and providing value for more than 2 years. Our first Case Manager workflow solution should be implemented in the next couple months

What was my experience with deployment of the solution?

Finding external talent for Data Capture and Case Manager has been extremely difficult.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

It is rock solid.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When we did our purchase three years ago, we asked them to size it so it would double. They said that would not be a problem.

How is customer service and technical support?

Customer Service:

We purchased IBM Forms in September 2016 and paid a significant amount of money for some custom widget work to IBM to integrate IBM Forms with the Case Manager platform. In mid-December 2016, IBM announced they were discontinuing IBM Forms. In spite of assurances that "they would make us whole", this has yet to become a reality. Moving to IBM Forms Experience Builder is going to result in a lot of throw away work and wasted money. This is significant point of contention.

Technical Support:

I have used technical support many times. They're very good; very, very good.

Which solutions did we use previously?

I was involved in the decision process to invest in the ECM solution. I knew we needed to invest in a solution like it because we had a legacy system that just turned 20 years old this past June; it's called the OIT from DocFinity. It served us well over the many years, but we needed something that was a little more flexible for us to design our business processes around.

How was the initial setup?

It is a very complex platform. There's a pretty steep learning curve for it, but it is extremely powerful.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We actually did a big project to do a product selection, and ended up selecting IBM's ECM suite. We looked at Documentum from EMC. We looked at a hybrid Microsoft solution. We looked at some things from Lexmark, which had an offering. We looked at Hyland. ECM was the better choice of all four of those.

The decision-making process took about six months. I think it proceeded on track. We have a fairly robust decision-making process, so we just followed the process: RFIs, demos, and then an on-site bake off. ECM won out.

When selecting a vendor to work with, we put a lot of stock in customer references. We'll shrink it down to a shortlist, based on their reputation in the industry, based on our personal experience. We've got multiple mainframes, so we've been an IBM customer for many, many years. We'll look at vendor reputation, ability to deliver, and the actual platform itself or the product itself that they're trying to deliver. Then we go through as many customer references as we can find.

We did not consider building an in-house solution ourselves.

What other advice do I have?

Look at my presentation, Lessons Learned from Implementing an ECM Stack, which I gave at a recent WoW conference.

A couple of other things: Make sure you have sufficient people in place. Make sure that you understand how complex and what the support requirement is. Make sure you understand that you can't just turn off the legacy systems or put them in sunset mode, because they're running the business. It takes a while to get things migrated to the new platform. You need to staff accordingly. You need to have some guiding principles, because the new platform that you're putting in probably has additional features that your old one didn't.

You don't want to just take the old system and pour it into the new system. You want to re-engineer business processes, as appropriate, and make sure that you've got the right tool for the right need. That's probably the two biggest pieces of advice.

I think overall, now that it's in place, it is a very powerful, complete platform.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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1 Comment
author avatarWW Practice Leader in Solution Architecture and Systems Engineering at a tech company with 10,001+ employees
Real User

Excellent write-up. WoW was definitely eye-opening w.r.t. Analytics on the platform. I've played around with Box and the integration as well as the mobile offerings. Not real use but just a side project thing. Those look promising also.

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