The invisible ECM – is this the ideal project management platform?

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Aaron Norman

We’re getting a lot of interest in managing projects on an ECM platform (Content Suite) and some of the most frequent questions are about Content Suite and not the project management functions!
In particular, people have questions such as:

  • ‘Do users need to be proficient on Content Suite to manage projects on it?’
  • ‘Our teams are used to Office / Spreadsheets / MS Project – how will they cope with Content Suite?’
  • ‘How much Content Suite support is needed to roll this out?’

The user experience of managing projects on an ECM:

The simple answer to this is that we have clients whose spreadsheet users are now happily managing projects on Content Suite and they have practically forgotten Content Suite is there.
The project management application is exactly that – it looks and feels like project management software, with Gantts, dragging & dropping, icons etc. We see that users do almost all of their work in the Gantt itself. Content Suite becomes invisible.

Even when they are working within a Task itself, it still feels to them like ‘normal’ project management. And adding a document to a Task (which is a Content Suite action) is simply done by clicking an icon.
The only area where minimal training maybe needed is to show them how to send a document for review or approval via a workflow, instead of piling documents into emails.

Our VP of Development, Kevin Keenan, has his development team focused on unifying the user experience into the Gantt screen so users can do more and more on just a single project screen, while Content Suite remains available in the background.

The Administration perspective: supporting Project Management for Content Suite

The feedback from customers who have implemented this solution is that it helps to have a business administrator who understands the concepts of project management and also has a good understanding of Content Suite. We spend time with this person supporting them in answering questions, reviewing configuration and general support so that they in turn can support the end users.

User feedback is that training should focus on project management tools rather than on Content Suite itself. Some users are happy to use just the Gantt and lists of tasks, almost like a spreadsheet. Others want to use a wider range of tools for example, completing timesheets, looking at resource allocations.

We have also seen that starting with one group and rolling out improvements for a 3-6 month period ensures that we get the configuration right before moving onto the next department. This also helps with rolling out standard templates and processes.

Another observation is that users get very interested in Reporting and the Dashboards and the challenge to the Administrator is to limit the number of dashboards requested!



Our customers’ experiences are that managing projects on Content Suite is really about managing projects and that Content Suite itself becomes essentially invisible to users.

That’s not to say they take it for granted, because they are very keen on the ECM benefits like adding document directly into Tasks, version control and especially the central location for all project content. We see this regardless of project type or department, whether its new product introduction, finance system upgrades, corporate strategies etc.

We have also had customers tell us that once they started managing projects on Content Suite, they could quite easily get buy in from users (those working on projects in any case) for Content Suite itself. There are two things in play here:

  • The first, and most important one, is to make sure that everyone involved in the project has access to the project Gantt and project documentation. This helps all users know what the project is about and how the project ties into corporate objectives. It helps the project team understand the context of their role and how their contribution drives project success. Teams appreciate knowing that all the project information is in a single, central location and that it's up to date.
  • Secondly, some of our customers are starting to use the product to get more people up and running on Content Suite. We all know that software rollouts can be slow, but by giving users a business application where they instantly see value to them, they will adopt the solution far quicker. Almost like a stealth mode, they then start to use other parts of the enterprise ECM.

Because of these two points, we now see that more customers are starting to consider enterprise licences so that everyone who needs project data can access the information, but also to help with increasing ECM adoption by providing a business solution on top of Content Suite.

If you've any questions or would like to discuss Project Management for Content Suite, please contact me at

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