I was recently working with a company and we had a great discussion on using Enterprise single systems for managing corporate data or using different cloud point solutions. The context was a discussion on project management software and the big question was ‘in the long run which is the right way to go?’
This is a crucial question, especially if the business users have very little experience of Enterprise systems.
A single enterprise solution or point solutions?
I think there are many benefits in having a single enterprise solution to manage the different aspects of your business rather than migrating functions to different hosted systems.
The reasons include:
1. Giving users a good experience with single sign in. With Cloud point solutions they would have to log into different systems and may have to duplicate the same content in two or more locations. This also leads to user frustration and uncertainty about whether the information is the latest version and it may lead to the user uploading their own version of the information.
The result: confusion and frustration and files flying round in emails.2. Sharing and maintaining document control in projects can be a full time job. Combining your project management scheduling with your ECM is more efficient as you can link your documentation directly to your project – even putting key documents within tasks themselves!
Even though many cloud point solutions have the ability to add documents, their management becomes a challenge since you also won’t have the same audit and version history for your projects, which may be an issue for any regulations. Imagine attempting to review each document on 2 or more systems to prove that they are the same documents at each version!
3. An enterprise solution also provides a searchable database with full EIM search capabilities. You can re-use existing project information & templates and hence avoid duplication and wasting time searching through emails, network drives and abandoned team sites. It’s also useful to be able to search projects AND their content, so for example you can see which projects used which contractor or product. Using a myriad of hosted systems means it’s more difficult to provide the same flexibility.
4. An Enterprise product provides more tools to help you standardize, for example using templates for project layout and reporting, standard processes for approvals (workflows) etc.
5. With an enterprise solution you can more easily integrate to other enterprise systems, not just applications. For example these can include xECM, the OpenText ECM solution that uniquely integrates with SAP Business Suite and Oracle E-Business Suite.
There are also usually more options for exporting data on a scheduled basis for external reporting using something like Qlikview or Crystal Reports. Some of our customers export the project data on a scheduled basis every couple of hours. Again, such flexibility of configuration may not be available via hosted solutions.
6. What if you need to migrate the data back in-house? There will probably come a day when you will need to move off a cloud solution and that has its own difficulties; who owns the data, where does it reside, how do you migrate it back in-house? It may result in having to add the content back to your corporate ECM anyway.7. Multiple systems: one person recently told me that he had started to use a cloud solution for project management but now another department may be interested in another solution. This speaks of trouble down the line as there could potentially be many different ‘Project Management Solutions’ for disparate departments in the same business.
There are obviously some advantages to a cloud system such as convenience and perhaps circumventing some corporate purchasing requirements as you can use OpEx instead of CapEx, but are those advantages going to deliver the system you need in the long run and what is the real cost?
If you've any questions or would like to discuss this, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.