Why Integrated Document Management Is Critical for Your Company

October 1, 2014 | Author: PM Hut | Filed under: Project Collaboration

Why Integrated Document Management Is Critical for Your Company
By Danny Boulanger

In brief

All too often, we see electronic and paper document management as an end in itself. In fact, as a manager you should see document management as a support service for your organization’s specific needs, such as:

  • Compliance and governance
  • Contract management
  • Project management
  • Group insurance case management with imagery
  • Vendor agreement management
  • And much more

Here’s the big question: how many of your documents are truly related to your organization’s activities, requiring structure and management?

There’s no one right answer to that question, but it should be clear that we’re talking about at least half of your documents.

Here is a rough classification – unscientific, but realistic – of documents:

  • 10% will be archived for legal and historical reasons
  • 50% are recognized as important for the organization’s activities (records)
  • 40% are collaborative

The first 10% absolutely needs a filing plan, including a retention schedule, business rules and an archival vault.

For the next 50%, it is important to have a filing plan with a retention schedule and destruction procedure.

And for the final 40%, employees should be responsible for using their good judgment for document disposal. (Sorry, purists.)

To me, the decision to manage electronic or paper documents has to be directly tied to organizational efficiency, or to a concrete need to comply with laws and regulations. If you are not yet ready to link your project to those two items, you are not ready to have a project.

Managers will not allocate enough budget, users won’t buy in, and you will become part of a grim statistic: 50% of electronic document management projects fail.

Here in the real world – unless you’re the government – business is business. J

First step

In the past I’ve implemented Documentum, PCDocs, Alfresco, LiveLink, etc. The electronic document management features of these solutions are much too advanced for most organizations. Naturally, there are exceptions requiring advanced management for specific document types:

  • Pharmaceutical filings
  • DoD Compliance application (activity document management for the U.S. military)
  • Large volume transactional documentation
  • Certain highly specialized applications

The majority of integrated document management needs can be met with SharePoint 2010 or 2013. However, depending on the specific details of your needs, you might need a solution developed on the SharePoint platform. That’s what our company has done with its Integrated Document Management in-a-box solution. Why? To let you do the job without in-house development, an obsolete approach rife with uncertainties. Even Microsoft recommends not using in-house development, because the consequences can be disastrous.

Our hands-on expertise allows us to target managers’ needs in an integrated document management setting. This isn’t a technology project! It’s all about management methods, change management and teaching users how to work with documents.

Are your users not managing their emails in Outlook? Are there critical documents on their PCs? Are documents relevant to potential disputes or litigation centralized, with adequate version management?

Even though several instances of document non-compliance have cost companies millions of dollars, I am sure that won’t be sufficient motivation for you. Why? For the same reason most people buy an alarm system only after they’ve been robbed.

This first step needs to target the risks and opportunities that electronic document management can bring to your organization. The real issues need to be presented to managers so that the project becomes a matter of corporate concern.

Second step

All too often, our organizations are structured vertically, and each silo has issues dealing with horizontal collaboration. When we talk about collaboration, integrated document management or imagery, this is a corporate project that requires you to target the right applications.

First of all, functional requirements need to be independent of technology. On the other hand, in a SharePoint environment you need to weigh the possibilities and the limitations. Vendors like my company have developed solutions that remove those limitations.


With more than 20 years of experience in the field, I have often seen the same mistakes being repeated. Here’s my advice for avoiding the main pitfalls:

  • Be sure to have an expert in the field for determining needs (expert in contracts, project management, EDM).
  • Identify some IT experts with experience in deploying integrated document management solutions – don’t just look for experience with successful projects, but failed ones too.

  • Develop an information architecture aligned with SharePoint’s architectural model.

  • Include the person in charge of paper document management on the information architecture team to make sure electronic and paper document management procedures line up.

  • Ban in-house development.


In 1995, Lotus Notes was the software to have! In 2014, SharePoint is it! What doesn’t change is your organization’s need for efficiency. Integrated electronic and paper document management is a project that can meet your organization’s horizontal and application needs.

Danny Boulanger is a Project Manager at Alcero. Alcero specializes in developing, implementing and deploying active solutions in-a-box. You can read more from Danny on Alcero’s blog.

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