So, you did it — you’ve created a short list of ECM vendors that seem suitable for your company. As you send out requests for proposals, there are some important things to consider when making your final selection.
DO Ask for Vendor Demos
As technology in the ECM field advances rapidly, it may be difficult to fully understand what these tools are capable of. A demo for your team will help you assess how you can utilize each ECM in your company. Be sure to include potential stakeholders from multiple levels of your company, not just your leadership team, because the everyday users of these systems may have the best grasp on how processes can be improved with ECM innovations. If possible, go for in-person demos from vendors, but at a minimum review an online demo.
Keep the Future in Mind
You are looking for an ECM solution because you have issues that you need to solve now, but don’t forget to consider what your needs will be in the future. Consider how each product could serve your company’s needs in 5, 10, or 15 years. Consider your growth goals and the types of demands those goals will put on the product you choose. A great place to start answering these questions is talking to product managers on your team – what projects do you plan to take on in the future? Can vendors meet the needs that come with growing project size, scale, focus, and documentation? Even if you don’t need the full breadth of a product now, purchasing an underpowered solution can be very costly later.
Make Sure They’re a Keeper
In any growing industry, there will be a plethora of startups, and ECM is no different. Ask each vendor what their company’s goals and projections are, and don’t be afraid to peek at financial reports if they’re available. Particularly if you are considering ECMs that are less established in the industry, make sure that they will be around for as long as you need them. Assess their longevity and look at which companies in their client list trust their brand.
Technical Compatibility and Support
You’ve already taken a cursory look at the technical viability of the product and should have an idea of what deploying each ECM will look like. Now it’s time for your development team to take a closer look and consider how the vendor aligns with and supports you throughout deployment and afterward. How easy will it be to integrate the ECM with your existing technology? Will their solution require lots of custom development to suit your needs? Will the vendor be available to support you after the product is deployed (and at what cost)? Can your development team support maintenance and changes to the solution in the future? Failing to answer these questions can mean added future costs and additional security vulnerability for your company.
Determine the Real Cost and Value
As a business, you are undoubtedly concerned with the bottom line. A nice, low bid might make a proposal very appealing at first glance. However, the lowest price may not actually be very low when all additional costs are added up. Carefully consider what your company’s needs are and take note when some of those needs require additional features at an additional cost. For example, post-deployment support can come at a hefty premium if you don’t read the fine print. Also consider the overall value added to your company — will you only use one element of a full software suite? Or, in time, will other aspects of the software meet other needs within your company? Take the time to circle back to point two above; as your needs increase, the pricing/value balance might improve over time, but once you have implemented an ECM it will be costly and difficult to switch to a different solution down the road.
Selecting the right ECM for your needs is a crucial decision for any company. The right ECM will be invaluable to your team, while the wrong one will be very costly to replace later. If you want to chat about your ECM search, reach out to us! We’re always happy to talk shop and hear about your experiences.