IBM FileNet Review

A very robust solution for my client after more than 15 years

What is our primary use case?

Our client is using it for search and retrieval and for archiving. From the very onset, it was deployed for archiving of their legacy records. We did not implement any workflow for them. We use the FileNet Content Engine Web Services to retrieve documents. We use high-end production scanners to scan the records. After that, users can use FileNet to search for these records.

There is automation involved in the process. At the point of scanning, the scanner dispatches the records to a particular folder. In each folder, there is an application that has been designed by us, which files the records in FileNet. We are not using any FileNet application to do the filing. We have an application which renames the XML to FileNet to do that.

We mainly use it for inactive documents. These are records they don't need to edit any longer. They are still necessary for their day-to-day operations; they provide evidence about their operations so they cannot be deleted.

 Our client is using version 4.2 on-prem.

How has it helped my organization?

We implemented it, per our client's request, as an archival solution. FileNet has given us what we needed.

FileNet has helped our client implement a retention policy for their inactive records.

What is most valuable?

We mainly use the Metadata, we don't use content, as such, for the retrieval. It has been robust because that's how we designed it. The application, in terms of durability, has been able to withstand the usage, given that it was installed in 2003 and it's still working. The version installed back then was 3.6. In about 2009, it was upgraded to 4.2.

For us, the back-end has been good. The system is so robust that we've never had problems, in terms of system administration. We've never had any challenges.

What needs improvement?

Our client feels FileNet does not provide them with content searchability. They feel it's cumbersome. They're only using Metadata. If the Metadata is not well-populated, it becomes a problem to retrieve a document.

Aside from that, they feel the interface — when they look at modern interfaces — is not robust enough for them. However, they're on an old version and I wouldn't know what the current interface looks like.

For non-technical users, with what we currently have on the ground, which is the web services, the only challenge we have is that content searchability is not available, because it is an old installation.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been using FileNet since back in 2003.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

From a technical point of view, FileNet is very stable.

How are customer service and technical support?

We have never had to contact FileNet support.

How was the initial setup?

I was part of the team that set up the FileNet installation we are currently using. I don't remember how long it took to implement, as that goes back to 2003.

What was our ROI?

The installation has been going on for a long time. I believe they have seen value for their money. They've been using this application for over 15 years and it's still delivering.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

FileNet is quite expensive, although Documentum is expensive too. There are several other content service platforms with a very low price, and they deliver as much as FileNet and Documentum do.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our client is trying to move away from the FileNet to Documentum and that has been difficult. The migration from FileNet to Documentum was started sometime in 2013 but, unfortunately, they have not been successful with it. I believe the vendor they used did not have enough knowledge to be able to deploy it, so they're having challenges with it.

They decided to move away from FileNet back because there was no clear direction as to where FileNet was going. They wanted to do content, and there was an option to go with FileNet P8, but they got direction from industry reviews and decided to go with Documentum because of the content functionality. Aside from that, ideally, they need to bring in workflow, as well as content searchability — full-text search. Those are some of the things they desire.

When they began with FileNet it was started as an archiving solution. That is what it was conceived for initially. But the need arose to get into content and workflow and they felt they needed a new platform.

I do believe FileNet has such capabilities. We are trying to propose to them to go for FileNet P8. Unfortunately for them, they have spent so much time trying to implement Documentum and have not made headway. They have yet to look at P8. We are the ones supporting FileNet for them. We have told them that the functionality they're looking for is available in FileNet P8. I would love to use FileNet P8 to see what it can deliver. However, whether they want to implement FileNet P8 or Documentum, the procedure is cumbersome.

I'm very familiar with Documentum. I've gone for Documentum training in Germany. But I would still go with FileNet because it delivered for me. It has been stable for many years. That is a strong point for me.

What other advice do I have?

My advice would be, before you go for any DMS, don't get stuck on looking for solutions that rate highly in industry reviews. For some of my clients, that is important, but others aren't concerned about that. They say, "Does the solution address my problem? Is it cost-effective? Can I scale up? If yes, good." Those are all things my clients are looking for.

Disclosure: IT Central Station contacted the reviewer to collect the review and to validate authenticity. The reviewer was referred by the vendor, but the review is not subject to editing or approval by the vendor. The reviewer's company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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