Ibm

IBM ECM Review
Great Enterprise features-ready one platform but not Out of the Box production ready


Valuable Features:

IBM Enterprise Content Management suite(ICN2.0.3 for Filenet CM 5.2.1)  is an enterprise-ready robust collaboration solution for knowledge workers that would meet the broad needs of the entire enterprise(Eg document-records management,search,scanning(datacap). cloud ready etc), compared to the other competitors offerings in the market.

Improvements to My Organization:

It has helped business areas to centralize storage,usage,search,dispositon of digital content and assets from multiple sources without a lot of training and  helped IT to consolidate multiple vendor tools without a lot of customization but certainly with some tweaking-multiple upgrades with assistance from IBM . Our future plans for ECM users is to allow them digitize,store and collaborate easily on one platform. 

Room for Improvement:

The IBM Content Navigator product (IBM's new UI and Collaboration) is much stable with fewer bugs but this should not be a surprise as IBM has been shipping poorly QAd/Tested products for many years expecting their customers to provide feedback and improve unlike their competitors and its not even funny.Better QA and product release cycles would be appreciated.

IBM really needs to provide a single ECM management dashboard or platform to manage the ECM components as currently its an sys-administration nightmare especially with one ICN UI platform strategy for all ECM products.

Product licensing can be more easy on customers as there is not a single size that fits all and business area requirements and IT landscapes change every 2 -3 years due to M&A and adoption of new technologies like hybrid cloud.We abandoned our Case manager solution as it was so complex and cost-prohibitive for us .

Use of Solution:

2007(XT) and the 2014(ICN)

Deployment Issues:

Initial versions of the IBM Content Navigator product 2.0.1  had many bugs that were addressed in successive releases (ICN2.0.2--2.0.3--and now 3.0.0).IBM addressed the bugs and assisted with our deployment to production.Many enhancement requests have also been implemented in the recent major releases.

Stability Issues:

We adopted the FileNet-XT around the years 2007 for a small business area unit then consolidated and implemented for the entire enterprise in 2014 ECM-ICN.

Initial IBM content navigator releases needed many upgrades to stablize to meet user acceptable performance benchmarks on Browsers and MS-Office ECM client.

Scalability Issues:

The solution is highly scalable and many add on tools can be added at a cost to meet demanding business requirements like records management,datacap-scanning,box-cloud integration etc .The stability issues were exposed as soon as all our legacy data was imported/migrated into the tool .

Customer Service:

IBM technical support along with  engineering teams have always come to assistance to fix bugs,performance tuning and address enhancement requests .Direct involvement of IBM and a good VAR partner is key to a successful implementation.NEVER attempt implementation of IBM products in-house without an experienced VAR/Integration partner.

Technical Support:

The technical support engineers are  helpful in terms of identifying the problems and involving engineering teams as needed which will be very often in a new implementation. 

Previous Solutions:

We already had multiple tools in our corporate ECM landscape (IBM XT,Sharepoint,WorksiteMP-iManage etc), that we intended to consolidate into one single enterprise platform.

Being Gov. we are a very slow ship to steer by IT with lots of red-tape but we chose IBM after a lengthy RFP process.

Initial Setup:

The setup was complex because we made some architectural choices of not going with the recommended very expensive WebSphere ND architecture.Product Installations are easy but performance tuning to meet enterprise performance workloads and benchmarks will required direct involvement and assistance from IBM. 

IT management team should have resource and training plan budgeted to support this complex platform and business users can loose confidence/adoption momentum really fast if IT doesn't have a team to rollout project of such scale and complexity.Plan the legacy data migration and retention as a separate project task from tool implementation.

Implementation Team:

We've worked with two different IBM VARs .When possible always go with fixed bid instead of t&m on IBM projects  .

ROI:

TBD  and in-tangible so far .We are still stabilizing the solution and are in the process of upgrading to the latest and greatest what IBM has to offer and bringing many more users into the system and rolling out additional ECM tools Eg Datacap,IER,Box Cloud Integration.

Cost and Licensing Advice:

Listen to the customers and you should not be vendor-specific or vendor-biased(not uncommon with silos and vendor loyalties and camps) when making decisions. You should capture your requirements correctly and be clear about the financial cost, which includes upfront licensing and maintenance, over a span of the first three years. If you are clear about the top requirements that are absolutely necessary, then a year or two down the line, it is less painful to go and revisit those decisions and make amends.

Other Solutions Considered:

We looked at all vendors in the Gartner's/Forrestor articles such as the Documentum, SharePoint,Hybase and IBM .

We had a small XT implementation of IBM . ICN/FCM met the maximum checkboxes as an integrated enterprise features ready integrated platform. We preferred this solution rather than getting into customization and trying to make all the moving parts work together to meet the enterprise business needs across the business areas.

Other Advice:

The most important decision for enterprises to choose a ECM platform should be a clear IT vision(ECM roadmap 2-3-5 year) and requirements(business area expectations and maturity to accept-adopt change).Then the decision point would be to go with a  major-industry-expensive tool(Documentum-D6 or Filenet5.2.x $$$Millions) or cheap/open-source platforms(Al-Fresco,iManage,Nuxeo etc $Thousands) criteria while selecting a vendor .

Also many smaller and cheaper market vendors have great product roadmaps,swissknife functionalities and are very proactive and responsive to the customer's needs and with rapidly changing IT and then there's the new hybrid cloud SaaS offerings (Google Docs or Office 365...) so is it even worth investing Millions into an on-premise ECM tool in 2017 with a 3-5+ year ROI .. 


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

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