The 5 Biggest Obstacles to ECM Adoption

Written by Meghann Wooster


We all know the benefits of implementing ECM: more efficiency, less paper, better information governance . . . the list goes on and on.

But there are still plenty of organizations out there that haven’t transitioned from paper-based processes to ECM-enabled efficiency.

Larry Phelps, Vice President of Sales at Solbrekk and an active member of the Laserfiche group on LinkedIn, recently asked the community to weigh in on the biggest obstacle hindering organizations from implementing ECM.

Here’s what you said:

1. Past failure. “Either they have SharePoint and believe that they have a full DM system, or they failed miserably implementing SharePoint (50% of implementations fail),” wrote Christopher Wynder, Consulting Analyst at Info-Tech Research Group. “Either way the resistance to trying again is very high in most organizations.”
Consultant John Annunziello agreed. “Our largest group had a new director who had come from an organization where an EDRMS [electronic document and records management system] had failed. She assumed this product would as well. It took a lot of hand holding to get her on board.”

 2. User resistance. Bob Trammel, former IT Director for the City of Bakersfield, CA, explained, “In many cases, the biggest obstacle is a lack of understanding and mistrust of computers in general. I know of one company where they still print three copies of everything to file hardcopy and scan one of the copies into their DMS [document management system] . . .
“You hear comments like ‘It’s too complicated,’ ‘What if the system goes down,’ and ‘What if somebody hacks the system and changes/deletes the images,’ etc.” He notes that these are generally not real concerns, but rather excuses to continue doing things the way they’ve always been done.

3. Cost. Of course, money is another huge issue for many organizations. Sharon Pikul, Owner of 8th Day Consulting, Training & Software, a company focused on serving K-12 educational institutions, wrote: “Where school district are freezing salaries, cutting teaching staff and student programs like art and music, parental protest at board meetings are common. Adding anything to a budget, let alone what is perceived as ‘administrative’ is voted down before it even has a chance to be heard.”

4. Time. Costs aren’t just measured in dollars, either. For Wynder, time and money go hand in hand. “The cost of implementing and the time commitment to do DM/ECM right is also a key concern that scares [organizations] off from starting a DM project.”

5. Lack of visionary leader. Pikul noted that an executive-level sponsor with a clear vision is another ingredient that is frequently lacking. “It takes a vision-focused person of authority with the confidence of top administration, a realistic plan and money to get it done. This can be said of any business, industry or governmental institution . . . A very wise man once said ‘Without a vision the people perish.’ He was right.”

Annunziello seconded this notion, adding, “Although the senior manager for IT was part of the team, he did not convey the benefits and the vision for the product to those who were actually doing the work. As a result, we fought with these guys quite frequently. This resulted in many people not accepting the product from day one.

To overcome this particular barrier to ECM adoption, Annunziello’s team “hired someone to go around to each department and be our ‘evangelist.’ This helped considerably. The product has grown and we have an in-house developer to help build the product as needed.”